I'm a big fan of the book, Bringing Up Bebe. As with the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother book which offered a perspective on Chinese parenting, I think it's important to step out of our comfort zone and see how others manage the important job of raising our next generation. Whereas the "Tiger Mom" book focused mostly on kids in elementary school through high school – and the social and academic expectations that the mom held for her kids – Bringing Up Bebe focuses on the earliest years. Things like how to get an infant to sleep through the night or get a toddler to eat his/her vegetables.
What’s this got to do with organizing? As I posted in an earlier blog, the “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua was a master of time management, being able to hold down a demanding job, help her kids master musical instruments, travel all over the world, and write a book or two. Whew!
In her book Bringing Up Bebe, expatriate American author Pamela Druckerman points out the perils and pitfalls many American parents encounter as they dote on their young brood in a manner that can lead to less self sufficiency for the kids and less personal satisfaction and spousal bliss for the parents. Many of the points she made (often directed at America’s stereotypical “helicopter parents”) do in fact regard how we parents organize our time and prioritize our activities. The book is a quick read and worthwhile for many parents or soon-to-be parents. It's full of easy-to-digest nuggets of wisdom, such as...
- French wisdom #1: Schedules can be good and not too restrictive. Having a set bedtime and mealtimes gives kids a sense of routine and expectations and lets the family have more relaxed transitions.
- French wisdom #2: "There are no kids' menus in France." Amazing enough, it's been proven the world over that a kid without chicken nuggets, pizza, burgers or pop not only survives, he/she thrives! Short order cooks, take notice and try serving veggies when kids are hungriest - they will eat them, promise!
- French wisdom #3: Delayed gratification and simple living is OK. We don't need to arrive at a park with an arsenal of entertainment options. Sometimes touching grass or exploring the woods is enough. Boredom is often discouraged in our country but it's actually essential to growth and creativity.
- French wisdom #4: Parents deserve alone time and kids deserve routine bedtimes. Combine the two, and you’ve suddenly got a recipe for a happier marriage, well-rested kids and the “downtime” many adults crave yet find so elusive.
- French wisdom #5: Autonomy is good for kids. If you expect them to do certain things (obey traffic rules, clean their room, help make dinner), they learn to meet your expectations!
Though I don't agree with all aspects of "French parenting" -- I personally am a fan of natural childbirth and breastfeeding when possible, but to each her own -- I do think this book offered a number of unique answers (and posed even more questions!) regarding finding the "right way" to raise our kids. Certainly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution out there, but being exposed to different ideas can help you find the method(s) that best fits you and your family.