parenting in the french

frenchLet 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.


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    I heard this author being interviewed on cbc radio and was left intrigued! I would love to read this book … thank you for the chance!

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    Bravo! Sounds like an incredibly healthy approach to all the things that we torture ourselves with. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    I have been living in Alberta for a few years but I am from France. A lot of friends have mentioned this book recently and I would love a chance to read it because honestly even if I can relate to some of the things described in your article, certain aspects have me really intrigued.. 😛

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    I had read an excerpt from this book a few months ago and vowed to purchase it but haven’t yet. I know I’ve been battling the “not good enough” gremlin lately and this sounds like a fresh perspective!

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    FABULOUS!!! I cannot wait to read this! Or WIN this. I will be picking up my copy as I am almost finished my other book. Thanks:)
    Oh and you always have the greatest book suggestions by the way!!!

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    It’s always interesting (and important) to read other perspectives on parenting and motherhood. I find “mommy” blogs and books very helpful when I am out of ideas and need a fresh/new perspective! This book sounds like a good read-would love to win a copy. Thanks 🙂

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    I am obsessed with French women, children and pretty much everything about their culture. I’d love to give this book a read as I think it is very applicable right now 🙂

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    Great review, got me interested! Cannot wait to pick up this book….hubby and I are thinking about starting a family. We need all the advice we can get!

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