So the French are better parents according to an American writer who’s been living in Paris and has just written a book and several articles on the topic.
The latest advice hot off the parenting mill is that we should ignore our children a bit more, not let them snack and have sterner voices. This is the ‘French parents are superior’ thesis that is now doing the rounds. You can find a discussion about it on the SMH and plenty of other sites at the moment.
Here we have yet another overly simplistic bunch of advice about how to parent that makes us all feel guilty and inadequate. ‘Oh, so you mean that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time. I should be treating my children as though we’re living in Paris.’ I don’t think so. If only it were that simple.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is sensible advice and most parents I’m around already employ these parenting tools in one way or another and generally the children I see are pretty well behaved. This sounds like a shocking statement as so much of what we read and overhear is full of negative stuff about kids. To these people: no, I don’t want to hear your story about some kid in the supermarket/plane/restaurant etc. I really don’t care about all the negative stories about children that people are so keen and willing to perpetuate. Keep it to your self or tell the other appalled childless people who can go and tell some other shocked childless people and let them all nod in agreement.
I don’t think any one culture, theory, country or group of people have the corner on the market on how to parent effectively and get your children to behave in a way that is socially acceptable and doesn’t make you have to yell and shout and get cranky too often. This best way to approach this stuff if with a healthy degree of scepticism about the latest new set of dos and don’ts.
It also has to be said that many of these articles appear online as what they call ‘click bait’ in the industry. A story that will get you reading because it’s a bit controversial and create a bit of outrage and so get people clicking and commenting. All good for the website’s advertising numbers. Noticed how the parenting or celebrity stories are often given a prominence on the site and designed to get both sides, the fors and against, a bit hot under the collar? You’re seeing click bait stories in action. Yes, this story is adding to it too.
But back to the parenting advice. It’s always useful to review your parenting and look to these stories a few tips that might be applicable to your situation and perhaps even some vindication that you’re already doing some of these things and mostly your children behave pretty well. Not all things apply to all children. One style of discipline might work with one child but not the other as they’re individuals.
After all, children are, wait for it, children and not adults so they’re still learning and haven’t mastered self control (note: nor have scores of adults by the way) and don’t always get the finer points of managing oneself in this life and it takes heaps of time, patience, discipline and years for the brain to grown and develop into maturity not just one set of rules. Most parents know what will help their child to be the best person they can.