Sunday, February 05, 2012

"Why French Parents are Superior"--I don't buy this

Here are the paragraphs in which the author notices the supposed difference:
[...] We quickly discovered that having two restaurant meals a day with a toddler deserved to be its own circle of hell.

Bean would take a brief interest in the food, but within a few minutes she was spilling salt shakers and tearing apart sugar packets. Then she demanded to be sprung from her high chair so she could dash around the restaurant and bolt dangerously toward the docks. [...]

After a few more harrowing restaurant visits, I started noticing that the French families around us didn't look like they were sharing our mealtime agony. Weirdly, they looked like they were on vacation. French toddlers were sitting contentedly in their high chairs, waiting for their food, or eating fish and even vegetables. There was no shrieking or whining. And there was no debris around their tables. [...]
One of the keys to this difference, we learn, is not to pick them up right away when they cry and other policies which avoid of giving too much attention and teaching patience and self-reliance. Some of this involves the fact that "the French have all kinds of public services that help to make having kids more appealing and less stressful. Parents don't have to pay for preschool, worry about health insurance or save for college." Be a Laissez Faire parent in a Socialist country, is that the idea? There are more anecdotes and scientific studies brought in to back all this up, but I'm skeptical. I'm surprised the Wall Street Journal published it.

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