Review of Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

After reading and thoroughly enjoying Karen Le Billion's 'French Kids Eat Everything' purely catching my attention from Amazon reviews, I decided to read the other one along same lines also highly reviewed. I wasn't sure if I was getting much of the same thing but I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was quite different and for me, the two go very well hand in hand. Each author's experience of French culture, while obviously things in common as it's the same culture, it was still very different and very interesting.  I could not put this book down! I felt like I was feeding off every word - it all just makes so much sense to me!  I guess in a lot of it I saw also things I experienced as a child in New Zealand in how we were raised which had quite a lot of similarities, so for me this book and Le Billion's reminded me of systems that really do work!

These days mothers and fathers, often older - like myself, and having long forgotten the ways I was raised, you just feel like you have to figure it out for yourself. I read all the usual books every parent reads but after reading these two books, I wish these were the only two I had read. These practices are not someone's new theory, or some trendy idea, they are tried and true and still in practice by many around the world (this isn't just French - the book's are about french culture but like I mentioned above, my culture as a New Zealander had a lot of this).   That is what gets me,  it works.  For generations it has worked on any and every child and produces strong, secure, happy children - isn't that what we all want? It's not about rules as much as it's about providing good boundaries that your children can flourish under.

This book was written more as a personal almost journal, telling the story of how Pamela and her husband got to be living in France as well as sharing about their relationship and other personable experiences along the way.  It is well written and very easy to read.

Here's some of my take-away notes from this book:

- Evenings are for parents - it's adult time.  If the children are still awake and around then they understand this. Important for parents to have time to talk together uninterrupted by children.Adult time is a basic human need and kids must understand parents have their own pleasures.

- From birth, don't jump every time baby makes a noise, give them a chance to self soothe - this is key because if they learn it young they will sleep through the night faster. (We're not talking cry it out method here - sometimes babies make little noises as they stir and the parents fly in and pick them up, just hesitate and wait first and go in if necessary)

- Children and Babies need to play by themselves in the day and not always be entertained. If they are used to their own company and finding things to do, then things like going to bed by themselves isn't an issue. When children are playing alone, don't interrupt them unless you need to.

- Give children opportunities to learn the skill of waiting rather than instant gratification.  They then learn to occupy themselves and deal with delayed gratification which leads to better concentration and reasoning later on and better dealing with stress. Children learning patience is also a way of respecting them.

- Allowing children to face up to their limitations and deal with frustration and showing them how to deal with it makes more happy, resilient people

- With food - expose children to as much variety, taste, color and sight to give them pleasure! Pleasure is the motivator of life.

- There are actually 4 magic words:  Please, Thank you, Hello and Goodbye. Need to learn to say Hello with confidence as it's the first part of a relationship.  It recognizes someone as a person and avoids selfishness, learning its not just about their feelings but about others feelings too.  A greeting shows they are capable of behaving well and sets the tone for the connection.

- There's no such thing as kids food.  Talk to them about how it feels in their mouth, is it crunchy? Create interest in food, stress visual and textural variety i.e. not two purees in one meal. Educate your children to appreciate all food. They have to taste everything and its ok if they don't like it, they haven't tasted it enough times yet.Make the meal fun. Don't make a big deal if they refuse food, just try again next time.

- Eating means sitting at the table with others taking time together and no one is doing anything else.

There is so much more I could note from this book.  It is a wealth of wisdom for parents.  There are so many things I was grey on that this has brought clarity for me and I've adopted these things into our routines.

I would highly recommend this book. It is not a book of do's and don't, it is a fresh way to look at parenting and life - even for those not parents!  I'm excited because someone has finally written these things now that have been around for years and that work.  Don't think of it as French so much as just a guideline, because I'm sure there are families from many cultures who have followed this kind of guideline for years.

I bought this book from Amazon.