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Wave a baguette around and your kids will behave?

Credt: Ros Page/Paris

Baguettes are like children: hard to make, but worth the effort

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.



8 thoughts on “Wave a baguette around and your kids will behave?

  1. The best advice I’ve ever heard about raising children is from an African proverb that states “it takes a whole village to raise a child”. Forget the French, and the academics. Children learn from everyone around them and we learn from the children. It’s a feedback loop that has made us so successful as a species. And taking Postman Pat away from a naughty 4 yr old also helps.

    Posted by Teachit | 13 February 2012, 6:58 pm
  2. I think ‘going it alone’ is a hard way to parent but we are doing it more and more these days with busy lives and living far from family that could be a part of it.

    Posted by PaleInk | 14 February 2012, 10:00 am
  3. This is a very interesting post. I don’t think there is one good way of parenting. You just do your best and go with the flow. I am French and I will probably deal with issues the way my parents dealt with me (consciously or not) and I am French. I am probably sterner than most non-French parents. It doesn’t mean its best or worse. It is just how I am. My daughter is only 4 months though (so we are not there yet) and she is a bi-cultural baby so will benefit from my husband’s Canadian-ness and my Frenchness.

    Posted by Sixtine and The Little Things | 16 February 2012, 12:35 am
  4. I didn’t mean to say I was French twice. *silly*

    Posted by Sixtine and The Little Things | 16 February 2012, 12:36 am
  5. I spend a lot of time in Paris and, in general, find French children I have met there to be interesting and interested. They willing to sit with the adults and hold their own in talking about politics, art, and philosophy. They seem to learn more in school and while they are still children and still learning self control they seem to be winning rather than losing the contest. Maybe there is something to be said for setting limits and having repercussions for bad behavior and laziness.

    Posted by Jeff | 21 February 2012, 11:32 pm
    • Interesting to see this confirmed in a way. I always think of that funny British comedy Absolutely Fabulous as it’s a satire on the ‘no boundaries’ parenting. It pokes fun at that and I’ve always thought there was something grain of truth in there that children without adequate limits may grow up and become more strict with themselves.

      Posted by PaleInk | 22 February 2012, 9:12 am
  6. I teach gifted children and they can also talk about a wide range of things and in ways that would shame some of the idiotic commentators and politicians in this country. But saying this, every culture has a range of intellectual levels and engagement with social discourses to varying degrees. What it gets down too is whether or not the kiddies are reading widely and being engaged with the world by their parents and school system. The overwhelming majority of teachers I have worked with do this extremely well. Perhaps the French have got the parent-teacher-nexus right!

    Posted by PaleInk | 22 February 2012, 7:02 pm
  7. There is nothing those French can’t do better than the rest of us. I’m not surprised their children are also incredible. x

    Posted by Maxabella | 11 March 2012, 5:21 pm

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