Let me start off by saying nobody sent me this book, I didn’t receive a press release or a publicist outreach email. I bought this book because I was curious about what could possibly be different about parenting across the pond in Europe, more specifically, in France. (that said, I did secure a copy for giveaway after I read it, so read-on and comment to win!)
My takeaways from the book are …
The Perfect Mother Doesn’t Exist
Love this. So true, right? French moms say this to reassure each other. If we could all just stop being so hard on ourselves (and other moms around us) we would appreciate that we’re all doing our best and we should give ourselves a pat on the back for the things that we are doing well, which is typically a lot. “French women are convinced that it’s unhealthy for mothers and children to spend all their time together, which fortifies them against our typical guilt. They believe that there is a risk of smothering kids with attention and anxiety, or of developing the dreaded relation fusionnelle, where a mother’s and a child’s needs are too intertwined.” “Standards are certainly high for French moms. They’re supposed to be sexy, successful, and have a home-cooked meal on the table each night. But they try not to add guilt to their burden.”
Creating a good mix of work and family time. Allowing ourselves to feel contentment with each is almost like an elusive dream, it’s this ‘balance’ everyone always seems to talk about. French women believe it’s about “not letting any one part of life – including parenting – overwhelm the rest. It’s more like a balanced meal…” One french mother says “In general I don’t doubt whether I’m good enough, because I really think I am“. Well said. The author of this book feels that American parents are so used to believing that everything revolvs around the kids. “Being more ‘French’ means moving the center of gravity away from them and letting my own needs spread out a bit, too.”
Intimacy and Adult time
“Sacrificing your sex life for your kids is considered wildly unhealthy and out of balance.” Apparently in France, couples do understand that baby’s arrival changes things, especially at first, but that the couple comes first resumes gradually after the newborn stage. Not only do they make the ‘couple’ a priority, in general, ahead of the children, they also actually have a time of the day called ‘adult time’. It’s viewed as a basic human need, and it is when the children are in bed after about 8pm.
Self-care as a priority
French mothers seem to have a basic philosophy of ‘paying attention’ to what they’re eating all the time and don’t allow themselves the excuse that they’ve just had a child to retain their baby bulge for any length of time. In fact, “three months seems to be the magic number: Frenchwomen of all ages keep telling me they ‘got back their ligne’ (figure) by three months postpartum.” The writer talks about how her post-natal visit at about one-year after birth, where her doctor prescribes her abdominal reeducation since she still has a “kind of bulge around my waist that’s part fat, part stretch, and part unknown substance”. In France, they state covers this post-natal therapy and in some cases, even tummy tucks. Mothers are expected to be interested in sex and care for themselves to ensure that they remain this way.
It was an interesting read and I recommend it as a way of gaining some new perspective.
Comment below to WIN a copy of Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. Draw will be held Friday August 24 at 3pm PT.