I recently discovered the secret to livening up even the dullest conversation: Introduce the topic of clutter. Everyone I meet seems to be waging a passionate, private battle against their own stuff, and they perk up as soon as you mention it.
Pamela Druckerman is the author of three books including the international best seller Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. She’s also an Emmy Award-winning documentary producer and a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times.
About four years ago, a friend invited me to lunch with some cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper. Charlie was looking for new writers. I was looking for work.
One of the many problems with parenting is that kids keep changing. Just when you’re used to one stage, they zoom into another. I realized this was happening again recently, when my 8-year-old asked me about babies. She knows they grow in a mother’s belly, but how do they get in there to begin with?
I have an unusual item on my to-do list, wedged between home repairs and unwritten thank-you notes: Become French. I’ve begun the long process of gathering documents to apply for French citizenship.
I’ll remain American, too, of course. I’d be a dual citizen. But becoming French would bring perks. I could vote in French and European elections, stand in faster lines at some airports, work anywhere in the European Union and — crucially — make my children French, too.
I recently spent the afternoon with some Norwegians who are making a documentary about French child-rearing. Why would people in one of the world’s most successful countries care how anyone else raises kids?
In Norway “we have brats, child kings, and many of us suffer from hyper-parenting. We’re spoiling them,” explained the producer, a father of three. The French “demand more of their kids, and this could be an inspiration to us.”
It’s with great joy that I announce the launch/publication/birth of Bringing Up Bébé in paperback. This new edition includes Bébé Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting. So let’s just say it’s twins. I hope you like them.
NOT many Ivy League professors are associated with a type of candy. But Walter Mischel, a professor of psychology at Columbia, doesn’t mind being one of them.
“I’m the marshmallow man,” he says, with a modest shrug.
IF you had asked me what I wanted when I was 12 years old, I probably would have said, “to marry a plastic surgeon.” You can hardly blame me: I was growing up in Miami. Read the full story here.
One of the maddening things about being a foreigner in France is that hardly anyone in the rest of the world knows what’s really happening here. They think Paris is a Socialist museum where people are exceptionally good at eating small bits of chocolate and tying scarves. Read the full story here.
At dinner recently, one of my 5-year-old twins announced that he intended to learn Croatian. This didn’t surprise me. Mealtimes at our house have become low-level colloquia on international affairs.
Read the full story here.
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“Marvelous... Like Julia Child, who translated the secrets of French cuisine, Druckerman has investigated and distilled the essentials of French child-rearing.” —NPR
“’I’ve been a parent now for more than eight years, and—confession—I’ve never made it all the way through a parenting book. But I found Bringing Up Bébé to be irresistible.” ” —Slate
“Self-deprecating, witty, informative... But however much she admires the ‘easy calm authority’ French parents seem to possess... will Druckerman manage it herself? Her efforts to do so add a compelling narrative to this fascinating study of French parenting.” — The Guardian (London)
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