When my daughter was 18 months old, my husband and I decided to take her on a little summer holiday. We picked a coastal town that’s a few hours by train from Paris, where we were living (I’m American, he’s British), and booked a hotel room with a crib. Bean, as we call her, was our only child at this point, so forgive us for thinking: How hard could it be?
We ate breakfast at the hotel, but we had to eat lunch and dinner at the little seafood restaurants around the old port. We quickly discovered that having two restaurant meals a day with a toddler deserved to be its own circle of hell.
Interesting piece on parenting. While I’m not a parent myself, virtually all of my friends are. They all deserve medals. So when I was reading the Journal, I came across this. Basically, the French system comes down to the following:
- Have a confident authoritative voice with your kids, but don’t scream
- Teach them the value of patience.
- Going with the above, forcing them to learn to play by themselves.
- French parents have an established boundary or frame or “cadre” as they call it. They let the child do what they want so long as it is within that framework.
A lot of it reminded me of the Montessori method for teaching children. They established something along similar lines when they created a system to teaching children in an urban environment. This article is really a sequel to another one the Wall Street Journal published last year about Asian “Tiger Moms”. The article drew both massive praise and criticism, as it highlighted how the Tiger Mom was just about a drill instructor that made the child learn by rote method.
So can Americans learn something from their French cousins across the Pond? Many looked at the Tiger Mom method as well. Both have a way of instilling discipline in children. But could Americans adapt such a method in our culture? There was a time when parents did something similar. Then along the way, it was lost.