Parenting in French: Are French Children Better Behaved?

You may have already stumbled across posts about France and education. Currently there is real hype in Germany about raising children in France. But is there any truth to the idea that French children are well-behaved?

And if so, what’s behind it?

Why don’t French children throw food into restaurants, always politely say good morning and leave their mothers alone on the phone? And why do French babies sleep through the night at two or three months old?Pamela Druckermann addresses these questions in her Spiegel bestselling book Why French Babies Aren’t a Nuisance (continued link). The author and first person narrator moved to Paris for love and soon after had a child.

French kids never have tantrums and don’t hold back – supposedly.

In her book, which has many enthusiastic readers in Germany, Druckermann reinforces the cliché that French children never have tantrums and, of course, do not object. But is this really the case?

The descriptions seem very general and certainly do not apply to all French families. However, children in France, especially in Paris, are seen primarily by many Germans as well-mannered and remarkably well-behaved.

So you can be curious and ask yourself: How do French parents always treat their children well?

If you’re hoping to find the final advice now, we’ll probably have to disappoint you. In France, there are simply different ideas about dealing with children. Where exactly the differences lie, we’ll show you some examples:

Paid parental leave

Serious differences do exist at birth: in France, a woman is entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave after her first and second child. At least six weeks of this should be taken after delivery. After 16 weeks, parents can still apply for parental leave in some cases, but there is not always financial support for this.

In general, society expects people to return to work as quickly as possible. It is recommended that mothers earn money again as soon as possible and resume their old lives.

Just don’t be a “chicken mother”.

Accordingly, children are in care facilities early, where they learn to follow the rules and join the group. In contrast to kindergartens in Germany, schools for children are very school-oriented. There the children learn to read, count and write in a playful way.

By the way, the expression “mother of the crow” is not there – instead, women smile as “Mary Paul”, that is, as mothers who spend “a lot” of time with their children.

Breastfeeding is considered ‘not forbidden’

So it’s perhaps not surprising that French moms rarely breastfeed. They bring up the rear in comparison to the European Union. In the case of breastfeeding at all, then only in the first trimester. For comparison: in Germany, more than 40 percent of women breastfeed half a year after giving birth, and in France less than 10 percent. Breastfeeding is really frowned upon out there and considered ‘off the beaten path’.

Hard sleep training

In a bestseller, Pamela Druckerman also tells us that most babies in Paris actually sleep through the night from two to three months – in their own bed. But with their explanations, the dazzling effect wears off. In fact, according to the author, it is normal in France to let children cry until they “calm down” themselves.

In Germany, education experts would probably call this “pacification” a “resignation”. At this point, we highly recommend our contribution.”This is how stressed your baby’s body is when you make him cry.

Strict rules at the table

Another common practice in France: children are given the same food as their parents from a young age. France is famous for its delicacies and even young children seem to be pure gourmets. Druckermann notes this, too. Picky eaters? Apparently there are hardly any of them.

However, one must know that common French parenting advice is simply not to offer the child any alternatives until he is hungry enough to eat everything and also to stay seated at the table. In Germany, this is no longer considered modern, since such a compulsion can, in the worst case, cause a disturbance in the relationship with food in the child.

If you read it this way, it is not surprising that children in France are considered more obedient.

While in Germany there is a debate about helicopter parents who want to take everything from their children and thus raise them to be dependent, in France, authoritarian educational models that focus on the needs of parents prevail.

As is often the case, the middle path is probably the best decision – and many parents take it anyway, whether in France or in Germany.

What do you think of French ideas about education? Write it to us in the comments!

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