Thursday, July 26, 2012

Good reading for a new parent

Yes, I've been inordinately grumpy lately, I won't lie. It's a side effect of a difficult pregnancy, being mired in my house 24/7, completely deprived of good company and friends, and being exposed for unhealthy spans to the full brunt of the internet, politics, and craziness in this world.  My structure and routine is thrown to the wind, and it's quarter past one in the morning and I'm bright eyed and bushy-tailed for the first time all-day.

I haven't been able to scan the ultrasounds as promised because I forgot to set up the printer on my new computer and it's Windows 7, which means I have to jump through some crazy hoops just to get the updated driver to work with the printer/scanner and my new OS (I saw my husband go through hell with this, so I'm not really inclined to face that battle at this point. I have very little energy and am short of patience for this sort of thing.

By Pamela Druckerman

I've been listening to the audio book version of "Bringing Up Bébé", a book recommended by my sister, who oddly, is childless.  She read it and has been touting it with fervour since she found out I was with child. She gifted it to me, she thought it was so important.  I can't say I think she was wrong.  It's interesting, however, to read this book from the perspective of a European raised kid, to hear an American describe it. And it is in many ways, a revelation.

I've spent many hours puzzling with myself about child rearing methods I've seen in my time in this country. So many aspects of it confounded me. The indulgence, the 'it's all about the kids' thing, the leaping up and fussing to their every whimper, their lack of real consequences and discipline and the hovering, helicopter parent.  All of this is completely outside of my realm of understanding and has been for twenty years. And now, I finally know why--and Pamela Druckerman has shown me the light.  It's because I've come from the world of the 'cadre', and the parenting I see in this country is completely foreign to me.

Bringing up Bébé illustrates very strongly how children of France (and Belgium from my experience) are raised differently -- and more rationally than American and English children. It's much less child-centric overseas. They raise their kids, love their kids, watch out for them, but their entire universe does not revolve around the children. The lives of parents do not come to a halt or take a back seat because a child is born.  This book talks about the 'cadre' system which introduces life lessons, discipline and caring without being overbearing or too lax. It talks about understanding a baby's sleep cycle, to learn to not jump up every time it cries, to take pause, and in part, help the child's development by leaps and bounds by assimilating the baby to your family's routine rather than mold the family's routine to the baby. The babies sleep the night as early as two months old ... and are much more balanced, calm and peaceful because they are enjoying their full sleep cycles by rote.

It's a brilliant book, and I recommend (I'm only halfway through it BTW, my hubby stole it to listen to on his commute, which is awesome) this book to all new parents or soon to be new parents. It's eye-opening. If you want a non-screaming, non-bratty, respectful 'sage', well-behaved child that sits in restaurants quietly, eats what he's given and listens to you, this book could really help you work towards that; by basically raising your kid like the French do.  Just a quick recommendation.

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