Comments from Readers

I’ve been charmed, delighted, surprised, and in one case moved to tears (though it might have been the jet-lag) by notes I’ve received from readers of Bringing Up Bébé/French Children Don’t Throw Food. I’m posting some of these (from FacebookAmazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and letter-writers who’s given the ok) below, with names removed. Thank you to everyone who’s sent in feedback on the book:

“This is my first time reviewing a product on here. I am only doing so because it is not an exaggeration to say that this book changed my life and my whole outlook on parenting. A stay-at-home mom who left a career to raise her baby girl, I have been struggling for months with the idea of being the perfect mother. I read a billion books, researched a ton, and almost literally drown in all of the extreme expectations that American mothers often have for themselves. “Breast-feed or you don’t love your baby. Buy organic produce and puree all of babies food. Teach sign language. Teach spanish. God-forbid you ever let baby watch tv. Stimulate your baby constantly. Cry-it-out is such abuse. You are a lazy parent.” I mean, seriously people. MAKE IT STOP, is all I wanted to do. This book gave me pause. Wait…. you mean I don’t have to doubt myself and worry constantly? Wait, it is healthy for my baby if I have a life outside of her? And the best of all… I might actually affect her negatively if I continue to parent her so over-zealously? By chapter 3, I was already being a bit kinder to myself. This is a MUST READ for parents. I will be buying it for every shower I attend. Did I mention that she’s funny too? Thank you, Pamela. Thank you for giving me my sanity back.”

“I expected this to be kind of a gimmicky sort of book that I would abandon after a few chapters. Instead, I found myself reading it aloud to my husband and feeling empowered to define myself as the kind of mother I always wanted to be but didn’t have the courage to be, given our culture’s seemingly endless demands for parents’ self sacrifice.
I think it boils down to the fact that Americans generally live under a dangerous illusion of control, and when it comes to kids, this starts even before conception. If we only do X, Y and Z, our children will end up at an Ivy League school. But “X, Y and Z” gets way out of hand. After reading this book, I am joining the chorus of “Let him live his life.”
My son started potty training the other week, and I found myself tiring of sitting with him for hours in the bathroom, distracting him with books and convincing him that he needed to go. I started pulling back a little, connecting with “French Mom” and trusting that his body (in all its innate, wonderful wisdom) would tell him what he needed to do and when. Before long, he was announcing his success from the bathroom. I was enjoying a magazine.”

“Bonjour Pamela, je viens de finir votre livre “French children don’t throw food”. Etant maman de 4 garçons habitant en proche banlieue parisienne, je me suis beaucoup reconnue dans votre livre, notamment en ce qui concerne la politesse (c’est vrai que les 4 mots magiques sont super importants), les repas, le sommeil (mon dernier bébé a fait ses nuits à 1 mois, j’ai compris pourquoi en lisant votre livre !), l’apprentissage de la patience (j’ai réalisé que je dis “attends” à mes enfants au moins 10 fois par jour !). Bravo pour votre analyse, je n’avais pas réalisé à quel point Dolto ou Rousseau ont encore une telle influence sur notre façon d’éduquer les enfants. Encore bravo et merci!”

“Being married to a Frenchman and having a French MIL I had to have this book when I saw it. There were a few things I didn’t know but overall I found most of it to be just plain common sense, something the French have in abundance. When I was done my MIL wanted to read it and she laughed through most of it. She said that the one thing the French knew well was that anytime someone gave you advice the best thing to do was ignore them.”

“An insightful, humble, entertaining look at the current state of American/Anglophone parenting through the eyes of an American mother living in Paris. As a mother of a young child myself, I think this book is an important, timely commentary on how norms and expectations have gotten a bit out of balance in our guilt ridden, over-analyzed, over scheduled American parenting culture, and how we might learn a thing or two from French parents and also appreciate some aspects of American culture that we take for granted.”

” just meant to read this for fun, but it has become my parenting bible. Seriously, as someone about to give birth I have read EVERYTHING on how to be a modern, deliberate parent. I want a child I can take to restaurants, I want a child who won’t fight me on each bite of food, I want a child who knows not to interrupt me when I’m speaking to another adult and this book touched on the things I want in order to keep my life less hectic and make my children respectable young humans. Of course, it’s all in the practice right? But I feel like this is the only book I read in all my research that gave me answers to behavioral questions I actually cared about. Thank you Pamela. Thank you.”

“I had a good chuckle discussing this book with my French friends, who were like “Bien sur!” when I told them some of the author’s main points. A lot of what’s in the book as “French” is universal common sense to my mind, but not to many, it would seem. I am tempted to give this book as a gift to some of my friends who have lost control over their children, but that might not go over so well. I definitely plan to give it to some who are pregnant, but haven’t yet given birth. :)”

“My wife loves this book and often quotes parts of it to her friends. Neither my wife or I had much experience with kids before we had our own, so there have been a lot of anxious moments. This book helps alleviate a lot of that anxiety by showing that our beliefs about how kids can and should be raised are justified.
Children do not have to be picky eaters. Parents can spend time with other parents while their kids entertain themselves. These ideas seem obvious to most people. However, kids know that the squeaky wheel can frequently get the grease. But part of the job of parenting is learning when and how much attention should be spent on children.
Are you feeling burned out because your children are sucking up so much of your time and energy? Read this book to find out how to escape the prison in which you have ensconced yourself.”

“I found this on my partner’s side of the bedroom and picked it up, intrigued. We have a ten month old which explained why it had appeared. I have to say I found it incredibly humorous. Yes, I sympathised and empathised with the plight of the author and “Bean”; Yes, I read curiously over various marshmellow experiments, considered appreciately the concepts of “delaying” and “teaching patience through “baking”. All that aside, to all fathers out there, you could do a lot worse than reading this over the plethora of scientific and preachy “guides” that have created an entire “parenting” section in every high street bookshop. To be honest, I took the France v UK/USA with a liberal pitch of ‘sel’ as it came across as a selling gimmick rather than hard science. It merely illustrated that perhaps french parents are more relaxed about parenting, more “child ryhthm-attuned”. Not something that only the French can do! What was important it that it was funny. I actually wanted to read it. Some stuff made sense, I changed a couple of methods with our child. My partner and I read it to each other. Heck, I even read it to my ten month old one night rather than a story about a dog. She giggled along with me. Finally, I found a light-hearted irony in the way Pamela Druckerman castigates the “over-parenting, method-obsessed, book and magzine article-focused” nature of UK and US parents – then gives us yet another book on the matter. Fathers should read this. Mums should stick this in their husband’s Xmas stockings just to get them to read a parenting book because, like me, he’ll appreciate it, find it humorous and engaging. And…because fathers will like to read it, they might just find something useful in it.”

“This is not a review. It’s a testimonial. While I am past the age of having children myself, I read this book last year when it first came out. I’m an inveterate Francophile, so I tend to read new titles about French culture and lifestyle, thinking there are things we might learn from them. I found Bringing Up Bébé both sensible and entertaining, so when my husband’s daughter and then his son announced that they were expecting … one last November, the other six months later, I bought a copy for each couple. Today, one of our granddaughters is a year old, the other six months. The six month old is “doing her nights” and has been for a while now. The year old was the same. Both little girls eat everything and on a regular schedule. Needless to say, we all attribute these “miracles” to Pamela Druckerman’s lovely book. I can definitely attest that it’s a great gift for expectant parents. Nicely written too. I especially like that the book portrays how a society might care for its youngest members and preserve the happiness and well-being of its families, if only we were willing to consider the French model. So you don’t have to be a parent or grandparent to appreciate what this book has to offer. Anyone who cares about children and families and the policies affecting them would probably gain something from reading this book.”

“I loved this book. I have already started using a lot of methods with my daughter and can see great improvements in her behavior. Especially when it comes to food. Today, my very picky daughter ate a chicken sandwich with avocado, brie and sun-dried tomatoes, no fights no tantrums. And she ordered from the regular menu, not the disgusting “Kid’s Menu” of PB & J, pizza and grilled cheese. It is definitely harder to implement this things when you are surrounded with so many close-minded people (West Texas), but you just have to keep trying and forget about everyone else.”

“Certainly the best parenting or pregnancy book I’ve read… the only book which completely confirmed my own intuitions. Children are simply small humans. They need extra care, but are rational beings and should be treated as such. In the world of overly smothering attachment parenting, this book was a breath of fresh air. It is possible to love your child and encourage its independence, and maintain your own sense of individuality.
While it may seem at first glance to create greater separation between the world of the child and the world of the adult, I think the French method brings the two closer together. Rather than creating a whole separate safe world of special activities and special foods, children are part of the larger adult world from the start.
The sections about food and manners were especially helpful. Just because babies need their food soft or mashed-up does not mean they need to eat crap– leeks, goat cheese, etc. are perfectly good starter foods. Also, I loved the fact that children are always taught to properly greet adults, rather than hide behind Mom & Dad. Treating children like intelligent and responsible human beings makes them, you guessed it, grow into intelligent and responsible human beings.”

 “I LOVE this book. I tell every parent that will listen about it. I do not have enough good things to say about it. So many wonderful insights that have the possibility to make such a positive change in American parenting. I am so glad that it has come out while I still have young children. I feel like it really re-inforces common sense. Why should I feel like a lazy parent if I don’t try and force my 18 month old to read? I have so enjoyed this perspective of how we need more “cadre”. Love, love, love it. I have had so many friends ask to borrow it, but this is one book that I want to keep. I will not part with my copy :).””I hate to be dramatic about this, but sometimes a book comes along – the right book at the right time – and just puts everything into perspective. As a brand spanking new mom of a 10-week-old, I was completely exhausted, completely unsure about what I was doing right vs. what I was doing wrong, and starting back at work. In other words, a woman on the verge. This book came along and was terrific, not because it has all the answers, but because it offers a lot of thoughtful ideas that create a vision of loving, balanced, common-sense parenting that works for me. It’s also just incredibly well written, with a wonderful mix of wry humor, stories, and just enough science to make the whole thing feel grounded. It is not a story about being a neurotic mom who sees the light (thank God). It is a story about looking at the world around and thinking about what lessons it might have to offer. A nice antidote to all the hyperparenting nonsense bombarding new moms. All in all a joy to read, very well-balanced, and a book that – in the effort to stave off unnecessary amounts of guilt and obsessiveness – I’m going to keep on the nightstand for a while.”

I know you are probably receiving messages from people all over the world and I really don’t expect a response from you but I just wanted to say that I have just finished reading your book and it has made me feel less crazy and ‘misplaced’!  THANK YOU!”

“The author has produced a very sophisticated book – layered, informative and persuasive. Superficially this is a meander through the experiences of an American woman with an English husband bringing up three children in Paris, where she slowly realises that French parents lead a more tranquil life because they subtly lead their children into their parents’ civilised behaviour with careful, nuanced expectations. On another layer she introduces her researches in Paris, through a good bibliography of pertinent studies. You don’t have to be a Frenchwoman to bring this kind of peace into your life. This book makes it all very clear. Would you like your baby to sleep through nights by two months? Would you like to have your toddler sit with you at a restaurant table eating from the menu, in courses like you do, without having to fight the third world war in public? Ask Pamela! ”

“I am so glad I found your blog because I’ve been dying to write to you about your book. I bought it two days ago and cannot put it down. It’s made me laugh out loud to tears, cry of nostalgia because it evokes sweet memories of being raised in France, and nod my head at every page as you put words into those concepts I could not label (“la pause”, “faire attention à sa ligne”, “le cadre”, “attend”, only to name a few)
It’s like I am experiencing the opposite to what you experienced in Paris: I am French, from Paris, and the mom of a 6 months old boy, my first baby. But I lived my pregnancy, delivery and the first few months of my baby’s life in New York City. We live near TriBeCa and my son’s paediatrician IS Michel Cohen. :) We are now in the process of figuring out day-care and what a nightmare – I don’t understand why there can’t be government-subsidized crèches in a city like NYC!
It is such a blessing to read this book as you decipher the stereotypes of American v. French approaches to pregnancy, delivery and raising a child while remaining your own self and a woman. For instance, all throughout my pregnancy I thought I was an alien for feeling ok about eating saucisson and unpasterized cheeses. I was made to feel horribly guilty (not by anyone in particular, just by the prolific literature on listeria and the media brainwashing), I even lost sleep over it, worrying about my baby’s health, but I just couldn’t resist the French food! It was my first pregnancy so I wasn’t sure how it was done in France, yet I could not imagine (or remember) French moms-to-be like me accepting to be deprived of cold cuts and French cheeses! Luckily my own mother thought I was crazy for worrying so much and reminded me of how a healthy pregnancy can be a stress-free adventure in France, without the need for brainwashing by pregnancy websites and self-proclaimed experts on in-utero brain development. She even encouraged me to have a glass of champagne or wine on the occasional family reunion! Your book breaks-up all these built-up, artificial, ‘brainwashed-into-one’s-head’ beliefs that the American health-care and education systems combined put into parents’ heads about how having children – the most natural thing in the world after all – should or should not be.
I just wanted to thank you for helping me understand what seemed so natural to me for having been raised the ‘French-way’, yet not being able to explain it (even to my partner, or the nanny). Since my son is born, I am naturally exposed to and read a lot of US-based literature on the developmental stages of a baby and all I keep thinking is “but that’s not how I was raised”, or “why doesn’t anyone understand what I mean?”, and “if nobody understands these concepts, how am I going to ensure my child receives the ‘éducation’ I want him to have, unless I am the only one who raises him??”. Now, thanks to your book, I know that this is because the fundamental approaches to a child’s upbringing and the history behind not only the role of parents, but also, as you put it, what a child actually is, significantly differ in both countries. I am glad to know I’m not entirely crazy for having a perspective on a child’s upbringing that is so different from that of people around me ☺
The way you identify, isolate, and explain concepts of “éducation” as they are used in French culture are spot-on (“la pause”, mais biensûr! I never knew it had a name but of course I do do that!, “le cadre”, the 4 meals a day at the dinner table with the ‘goûter’, and I think, most importantly, letting children learn to play on their own without the hovering/smothering of guilt-ridden and competitive parents.). I love the tone of your book, the way you describe your own initial skepticism to crèches or how to manage an adult conversation while the children are playing on their own, yet always with a touch of sarcasm and a boatload of humour.
I read your latest post from the Atlanta mom who compares French methods to Montessori schools and I think she is right. I always wondered why Montessori schools aren’t so widespread or sought-out in France (I had never even heard about it till I started living abroad as an adult). I also believe that’s because the method used by those schools is what every French parent already implements at home!
Thank you again for writing this thought provoking, well researched, down-to-earth, and unbiased book. I now hope I will manage to convince my partner to read it, as I know he will recognize some of his own upbringing in it too (he is also not American, but was brought up in the US for most of his younger years).
Going back to my book! Thanks for the fun read!”

“Just thought I’d say a massive MERCI to Madame Druckerman.
I am a French woman AND a mother AND many other things at the same time. I had my baby girl three years ago with a fantastic Englishman in London. It was the start of a eye-opening, guilt-ridden, frustrating, rewarding adventure of love.
As a non-breastfeeding mother, who wanted to go back to work after a 3 month maternity leave, I was looked down and made feel guilty by the bible-bashing talibans of breasfeeding.
It was incredibly difficult for me to keep respecting their views about motherhood while they literally spat on my way of doing things.
Now NOBODY is perfect: not a French mum, not an “anglo-saxon” one, but who cares…Most of us are trying our best, and that’s what matters.
Madame Druckerman, if you read this, thanks for making me feel less guilty and a little validated.
Your book made me laugh, it made me cry. It might not be representing 200% of the French society, yeah maybe not. But there are one thing or two people could learn from these selfish, vain and ambitious French women. Starting with that: You don’t stop being a woman when you become a mother! And you don’t become a woman, just because you’re a mother…”

“My father was born in Paris and moved to Toronto, Canada with my grandparents in the 50′s.  He would often share tidbits from his childhood, for example, getting home from school around 4pm and eating a piece of baguette with butter and a slab of chocolate on it.  I always thought he was exaggerating, but I guess he wasn’t! Anyways, everything you write about resonates with me and I thank you enormously for all the hard work you must have put into this book.”

“I am Australian and my husband is French, we live in California and we have three small children which are being brought up exactly as you describe in your book. I just thought what we were doing was a mish mash of what my husband believed and I what I believed both drawing on our own happy upbringings.  His being the ‘french way’ (as you describe in your book) and mine being the stoic ‘she’ll be right mate better not to interfere, just get on with it’ Australian way.

Here in California I have often felt I am not ‘measuring up’ for example when I let my kids run around the playground and I just plonk myself with a book on the edge of the playground and don’t interfere with their play.  I am constantly amazed at the parents that follow their kids around the playground ‘narrating’ the play as you describe in your book (I never realised their was a term for it)…I have thought sometimes ‘oh maybe I should be doing that’ but I have known deep down that my kids are much happier just doing their own thing.  I have also had shocked looks when my kids come to speak to me and I’m midsentence with someone and I say ‘you’ll just have to wait until I’m finished speaking with so and so’ and my kids wait. They know I will deal with them eventually.  But I get the feeling that most American parents here think I am b*tch mother who doesn’t ever listen to her children’s needs.
We also have a catch phrase in our family ‘c’est moi le patron’ (mostly coming from my husband) and they know when Papa (or Mummy) sets a rule then that’s just that and they have to accept our judgement as parents.  Somethings are not up for discussion and they must accept this.  I could go on and on but I just wanted to thank you for your lovely book.  It has put a smile on my face to know that I’m not a crazy strict mother just a normal Aussie one with a French hubby.”

“Your book is the most wonderful reading I’ve done in a very long time. My son is 10 months old and I live in a remote town in New Mexico which might as well be Yemen as far as I’m concerned.
I could not put Bringing Up Bebe down and read it in three days, which is quite the feat considering my husband is always away for work and I am a full time MBA student. I begged my husband to take the book with him on one of his work trips and hope he is reading it. It made me laugh, hope and relax. It makes me want to be sexier and more attentive to my husband. It makes me want to be more attentive and thinner too of course!
When mentioning the book to some of the women in my little Moms’ group this morning at the park, many of them were upset and very defensive. I was crushed! I can’t believe how many women I offended just by reading a book. (Please note the town we live in is one where “Bohemian” style parenting is considered best and women walk around in the local co-op topless while breastfeeding toddlers in a sling).
Anyways I can’t thank you enough for writing what you did and how you wrote it. It was engaging and your sense of humor is hilarious, even if Simon thinks otherwise. I have been to France a few times but never noticed child rearing very much. Your book brought to light so many important factors about problems we have here in America and at the same time it helped me understand why I am so overwhelmed and confused as a mother. Thank you thank you thank you!”

“As a French reader, I cannot really imagine how controversial this book is in the US… because Pamela Druckerman description is exactly what we do in France.I agree with her analysis of the four meals a day, of “the Pause” (which is, according to us, just good sense, and not conscious at all!), the important of having a life as a woman and not only as a mother (séduction, losing weight, sexuality… are very encouraged and important after having a baby, to be considered as an entire woman… and i think it’s good!), the importance of saying no, of having time for ourselves, to let the entire family breathe! She could have added some perfection in her analysis of our way to see breastfeeding, stay at home mothers (Paris is not France, we can find women who choose to stay at home… but it is true that even them keep a life, pleasure, whith few guilt). Don’t forget too that France has a high rate of unemployment, women at work are not treated equally as men (less paid)… things are not so easy for french women. But I admitt that’s not the purpose of the book… The author is right when she sees a similar philosophy of educating our children, from north to south of France. I had a lot of pleasure reading this book… very instructive for us Franch, making us realize the chance we have with “crèches”, “école maternelle”, etc…A very useful “guide”, for American parents but for the French too!”

“After feeling really down in the dumps about parenting my one year old I have to say reading this book really helped me snap out of it. This book probably saved me quite a bit of time/money on the therapy that I thought I needed just by making me (a north american mom) aware of what is possible in terms of parenting peacefully. I came away from reading this book feeling ready to give my little girl some space to form some independence and realizing that something that would really make me happy is having a life of my own again. And I don’t have to feel guilty about that!

“I absolutely loved all the tips and personal stories peppered throughout the book, and reading all these made me realize that what was stressing me out is reading all about the rules and methods for getting your kid to do xyz (sleep, stop throwing stuff, etc) when what I really wanted to know is what some people actually do. Just knowing that this whole country of mommies isn’t trying to be perfect super mom took a huge load of guilt and stress off my shoulders and liberated me to think about what it is that *I* actually want right now.
Bottom line, I loved this book and feel a lot better about parenting after having read it! (A very quick read too, which was nice)”

“I’ve read Druckerman’s book several times over, yellow-marked it, underlined and dog-eared it. I don’t have kids, but I have observed French children and wondered at their calmness and good behavior. This book answers many questions about French culture in general and French eating habits in particular. Why are French women thin? The answer starts at the family dinner table and in daycare. Plus it gave me insights into my own upbringing. Bringing Up Bebe is a thoughtful observation of how another culture resolves raising children. The French government is certainly involved in supporting working parents in the process. Would it work in the US? As Druckerman notes the US army already provides French-style daycare for all of the armed forces so it is feasible. Something worth considering. By the way this is a very entertaining funny book to boot.”

“Pamela, I want to say thank you for writing this book. First, I love your sense of humor – VERY much appreciated! (the reference to ‘feeding’ our children instead of ‘meals’ is outstanding) Second, I am an older mother and have a 3 1/2 yr old that I am raising to be independent and a good person 1st and foremost and to treat others with respect; many of my friends are shocked when she says ‘thank you’. I have been criticized for my daughter being ‘too’ independent and she has too much freedom so to read your book; it makes me feel so good that I am giving her the basic foundation for her to become who she is supposed to be – please thank your husband and children as well – I know that have made sacrifices for you to write this book.”

“I am not sure how many men write to you telling you about their experience with your wonderful book.  Rarely do I find anything I have zero fault with.  Your experiences, examples, advice, etc., felt like I was putting on my favorite, most comfortable pair of jeans or shoes.  Reading your book was like listening to my inner parenting voice without the constraints of a wife who does not subscribe to these tenets.  Hopefully, she will read it and soften her stance on some of the philosophies you present in such a fun and informative manner.”

“The most accurate, intelligent and entertaining of the “Franco-Anglo experience” books, as well as the least narcissistic! Refer those abroad who can’t fathom why you live here…. I teach creative writing to kids of many nationalities, and constantly see the results of their upbringings. Word!”

“Just thought I’d say a massive MERCI to Madame Druckerman. I am a French woman AND a mother AND many other things at the same time. I had my baby girl three years ago with a fantastic Englishman in London. It was the start of a eye-opening, guilt-ridden, frustrating, rewarding adventure of love. As a non-breastfeeding mother, who wanted to go back to work after a 3 month maternity leave, I was looked down and made feel guilty by the bible-bashing talibans of breasfeeding. It was incredibly difficult for me to keep respecting their views about motherhood while they literally spat on my way of doing things. Now NOBODY is perfect: not a French mum, not an “anglo-saxon” one, but who cares…Most of us are trying our best, and that’s what matters. Madame Druckerman, if you read this, thanks for making me feel less guilty and a little validated. Your book made me laugh, it made me cry. It might not be representing 200% of the French society, yeah maybe not. But there are one thing or two people could learn from these selfish, vain and ambitious French women. Starting with that: You don’t stop being a woman when you become a mother! And you don’t become a woman, just because you’re a mother…”

“I got your book yesterday on my kindle and can’t put it down. I think my nonstop reading it will teach my one year old patience :)”

“This is by far the best parenting book I’ve read (I’ve read many). To me, it is really an enlightening book that a lot of fathers I know would really benefit from — it’s definitely not a book written for moms only. Ever since I became a father I have been amazed by the extraordinarily paradoxical feelings I have every day: I want to protect my children so much, that I know I am holding them back from becoming the best human beings they alone are capable of. This is the first book I’ve read that highlights that paradox and provides complex, sophisticated and reasoned justification for ‘letting go.’ Just like the author, I’ll never be perfect at it, but the book made me truly see that raising children to be fully autonomous, which is inevitable — and ultimately required as an adult — is not only possible, but it’s also not entirely my job. It’s my children’s job as well, and I’m now determined to help them find their own way.”

“This book is a lovely parenting book disguised as an engaging, imaginative memoir of a young woman raising her children in France. As far as I’m concerned (and I am merely a stay at home mom, not an accomplished critic) this is the end-all be-all of parenting books. Practical parenting advice is hidden amongst stories of meandering down enchanted cobblestone streets and the smell of fresh baguettes from the nearby bakery. I love that she gives her reader every reason to enjoy every moment of pregnancy and parenthood. This book is void of horror stories, anxiety, and legalistic rules but chock full of common sense and grace for mothers-to-be. I certainly wish I had read this book during my first pregnancy when I was a nervous wreck. If nothing else, peace has returned to my home via her no-nonsense parenting methods. Unlike other child-rearing and “what to expect” type books, after reading this, I am far less nervous about my potential to ruin my child for life.”

“I picked up this book the same day it came out and started reading it on the train home. I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t want to get off at my stop… I usually don’t write reviews – in fact, this is my first book review ever. But this book is so fascinating and well-written that I thought it warranted writing one.
Bringing up Bebe opened up a whole new parenting philosophy to me. I was afraid this philosophy would entail too much discipline, strictness, and punishments, but it really doesn’t. It’s quite a simple philosophy that includes boundaries and rules but also a fresh and new take on teaching your child patience and politeness, “tuning in” to your baby’s rhythms, enjoying simple pleasures, giving your child enough freedom, and how to instill an appreciation of different foods (and much more, of course). The book is warm and surprisingly funny with lots of real-life stories, examples, interviews with pediatricians and parents, studies, and the author’s own observations.
Druckerman is far from preachy – she doesn’t tell you how to raise your child, instead she humorously and carefully tells how most French parents do it and what she implements with her own children along the way. Just like the author, I don’t love everything about French parenting and culture (and I’m sure I would find that with most parenting styles and cultures around the globe, including different American ones), but the good thing is that you can leave behind what doesn’t suit you and implement what does. Without being a how-to book, I still came away with lots of practical ideas and new ways of viewing parenthood.
Apart from French parenting, you’ll also get a bonus glimpse into French culture, which is totally fascinating. Loved it.”

“This book is very enlightening and sheds light on several subjects pertaining to raising a baby. I like that the author comes from a very ‘American’ perspective and gives us a good grounding on her background, her thoughts, and her reactions to various parenting. One thing I really like is she admits when she’s generalizing. She also gives backgrounds on various techniques and their authors both from NA and from Europe. I’m married to a Frenchman and I can see many of the things that come second nature to the French that are more difficult to grasp as a North American – the whole concept of patience, talking to your child in a rational manner, accepting that a child’s path is one of discovery. These are things that come naturally to my in-laws. This book helps you take a step back from all the propaganda and arguments out there – and lets you make up your own mind as to whether the different methods have merit or not. It also makes us question the “WHY” do we do what we do when we do.

Its also a good smooth read. An easy read. But not necessarily something that I would give my husband to read since she does dive into personal details sometimes before getting to the point. I find this interesting, but I think he would probably lose patience with the book. I would recommend this book to any new mother.”

“I haven’t had the pleasure of becoming a parent…yet…but I am a teacher, and an aunt. I read your book and loved it!”

“I’ve read Druckerman’s book several times over, yellow-marked it, underlined and dog-eared it. I don’t have kids, but I have observed French children and wondered at their calmness and good behavior. This book answers many questions about French culture in general and French eating habits in particular. Why are French women thin? The answer starts at the family dinner table and in daycare. Plus it gave me insights into my own upbringing. Bringing Up Bebe is a thoughtful observation of how another culture resolves raising children. The French government is certainly involved in supporting working parents in the process. Would it work in the US? As Druckerman notes the US army already provides French-style daycare for all of the armed forces so it is feasible. Something worth considering. By the way this is a very entertaining funny book to boot.”

Hi, I know you must get thousands of “I loved your book” messages, but I’m having such a blast reading your book that I just had to write you (this is the first time I’m actually writing an author of a book I’ve loved by the way) – it’s hit so close to home for me that I’m cherishing every page.  I moved to America from Prague, Czech Republic as a child (a tween is the word these days – I was 11) and lived there until I met the love of my life at age 27, who was, in a really funny twist of fate, from Prague…so now I’m back living in my home city (while my parents and brother still live in sunny LA) and am now raising my 2 children here.  Your book really drives home the difference between European (there’s huge similarities between the Czech parenting style – as well as other European countries – and the French style) parenting vs. US parenting that I was never able to put down in words.  I think about it constantly because sometimes I feel completely schizophrenic in my parenting skills – when we visit my family in LA, I find the little girls rolling around in the sandbox in their velvet princess costumes endearing and then feel as though I’m too strict with my kids…but when I’m here in Prague…I think most of my friends find me way too lax and “American” in the way I raise them – I tend not to fuss over the “hellos” and “goodbyes” (which btw, are the same pillars of “polite behavior” here – I’ve heard of kids not getting into an elementary school of their parents’ choice simply because when they came in for the intial interview, they didn’t say “Dobry den” (Bonjour)), I give them snacks all the time…I feel guilty when I don’t actively “narrate their playground activities” (that passage in your book is hysterical btw) etc…reading your book has made me realize that this “disbalance” I’m experiencing is completely founded and therefore ok :).  I also feel like those children you mention in your book – when I’m here I feel more “American” and when I’m in America, I feel completely Czech :) – so th!
ank you for making me feel absolutely normal in spite of that :).

“hey, i just wanted to say I read your book in two days, and bought it the day it came out! I want to be a disciple! ;) I’m still a college student, but by the time I want to have children, I’d LOVE to see a follow-up book. I’ve helped out with a lot of babies/toddlers in my life, and I think the idea of the sleep cycles, and “the pause” are so simple and amazing, but I don’t know if I’d be able to pull that off- do you have a mommy-blog anywhere? I’d be interested to read.”

“As a French mom raising 3 kids in NYC, I found this book very interesting. The different situations and points of view correspond to obvervations I made. Like the author, I started parenting (with very little experience with babies and toddlers, for sure) in an “American” (or is it a NYC?) way, saw my kids doing too much of “n’importe quoi” and my husband and I getting quite stressed, and moved to a more French style with more “cadre” and finally less stress. This book confirms some ideas I had from my experience and looking at other families around me and gave me some good ideas.”

“Your book “Bringing Up BeBe” is amazing and inspiring. The best read I have had in years and so helpful as a new mom. I too live overseas, in Germany, as an Amercian, married to a foreigner. I have watched as different cultures in Europe, do many things different from us Americans. As a teacher and parent I admire the laid back lifestyles and relxed but formative way children are raised compared to the U.S.. I miss my family and home so much, but resist going back to raise my child there, so much has changed and I love the life children have in Europe, even German children are more relaxed and well behaved. I also wanted to add, that the recipe you listed in the book, for yogurt cake was a hit with my duaghter who has been wantingt o cook with us. She wants to bring one to her kindergarten to share. Thank you for writing a book that was real, honest and funny, at the same time being so imformative. I was truly sad when my reading ending. I was craving more talks and insight, only a true writer can envoke such feelings. Thank you! I hope you and your family are well in Paris. Tschuss!”

“THANK YOU for explaining “The Pause”. I have 4 children who all “did their nights” before 3 months. They have all received lavish praise for their behavior in restaurants, even when they were little. Somehow I instinctively did “The Pause” and it made all the difference. I didn’t know what it was that I was doing right, though so I couldn’t explain it to anyone! Like the French women, it seemed obvious to me. Thanks for giving me the words to explain it!”

“I devoured this book in 2 days after getting it on my kindle. I am not a mother but plan to be one in the near future. Nor am I one of those france-obsessed americans, who think the french do everything better because they’re european. I do work with young children and have a lot of experience with upper-middle class american families. I found this book to be fascinating, enlightening, and applicable – I plan to keep many of these insights in mind for my own future family. I have read and re-read it, highlighting sections and taking notes. It seems like those who are bothered by this book are personally offended because they feel that the author is accusing them of being a bad parent or calling all american families deficient in parenting skills. I think this is unfair to the author, as Mrs. Druckerman clearly states that she is not making blanket statements about ALL FAMILIES – just many that she has observed (including her own). In my experience with young children, her insights are right on. Don’t be scared away by the controversy. This is now one of my favorite books!”

“I don’t take the time to review many books, but I felt I had to in this case. I saw this fleetingly in a bookstore and made a note to try a sample. I thought it was fiction (I didn’t have time to actually pick up the book), and I was looking forward to a simple read on a long flight. As always I checked the ratings and was horrified to find that (at the time) almost all of them were from people who saw the author on TV, or read an excerpt in an article and were actually reviewing that short exposure. That’s not a book review, and Amazon shouldn’t allow it.

“I liked the sample so I ordered the book. LOVE LOVE LOVED it! I’m definitely not a Francophile, so I wasn’t predisposed to like the strategy. I was however, intrigued by the concept once I read it. What I enjoyed most is that this is more of an objective study of the contrast between the cultures through the eyes of an American ex-pat living in Paris, but married to a Brit. Wonderful fodder for an assessment of cultures. I particularly liked that she nicely blended actual research with her own personal family experiences. Much more interesting than a parenting book that is written by someone who isn’t the primary caregiver. Definitely worth the time, and very interesting!”

“Let me preface this review by saying I have a lot of family in France and I am a total Francophile. So I cannot say that I’m entirely objective about this book.That said, it’s brilliant. It’s both interesting and informative. The principles outlined are actually quite basic, but very important. And for some reason, American parents have either lost these principles or never had them to begin with. For example, I cannot count how many times a child has come to my house for a play date and NOT acknoledged me with a simple greeting. The French would never allow that. and he author has a wonderfully thoughtful explanation as to why teaching children to greet adults is so important.Just like any a a renting book, you should not expect to agree with everything. For example, whereas the author devotes an entire chapter to the importance of French mothers having a job outside the house, I find that to be shortsighted. Stay-at-home mothers can have very, full rich lives without working. It’s a matter of balancing personal needs and interests with domestic responsibities. Not hard to do, and the end result can be wonderful.

My advice – if you have children then read the book. It’s never too late to teach them new things and never too late for you to adopt new parenting tools.”

“I just got this book and am compelled to write a review. I love,love this book! I first read a short review in the Week magazine and immediately I knew I had to have this book. I am half way done and I already feel less stressed about my baby’s sleep and eating schedule. Druckerman writes a funny, warm, eye-opening book. It makes so much sense about treating your child like a person and not like an unreasonable blob. She seems honest about her own experiences which makes her so relatable to me. I am so excited to have these old but new to me tools to help me raise a good sleeper, good eater, and be happy parents. Please read this book if you are expecting, or have a child, or thinking about having a baby. The insightful wisdom she shares is a game changer. I’ve already started implementing the sleeping part. My lovely daughter, whom has never napped with out being held has now been sleeping in her crib for almost two hours. A MIRACLE!”

“I actually ordered this book in hard-cover as soon as I read about it. (Except for professional reference books, I usually only buy paperbacks and get books as cheaply as possible from the library, resellers, etc.) So that’s saying something about my level of interest to read this book. My husband and I are older parents of a toddler. My 3rd child and his first. My other 2 kids are adults. I want very much for this younger child’s upbringing to be more successful (for all of us) than I felt when I was blundering through the other 2 kids’ childhoods. The idea of having a child who isn’t “unbearable,” who we can travel with, who is thoughtful and articulate, and who will not take over our lives is very, very attractive. The author also makes a strong argument that children raised in the French way are happier, more resilient and self-confident, which of course is what we all want for our kids even if we can’t quite figure out how to help them get that way.
The author makes interesting and enlightening comparisons between American and French parenting. She presents concepts in an entertaining way, acknowledging often how difficult it was for her to recognize and change her own instinctive ways of Americanized parenting to be more in line with those she observed in France. She seems to amaze even herself when small changes are effective, which is encouraging both to her and to the reader.
I have been telling my husband all about this book and he is looking forward to reading it next. I hope we will be able to incorporate these ideas with our child, who although quite bright, doesn’t listen particularly well, doesn’t sleep well, and has a fairly restrictive diet. I am excited to know there can be another, more peaceful, way to live with a toddler!”

“I really enjoyed this book – it was very well written and gave a great insight into french parenting techniques. I have a newborn baby so I will be using some of the tips in this book as my daughter grows older (I’ve already started using the ‘le pause’ technique which worked like a charm). Even if you don’t agree with what’s written, it’s a really entertaining read!”

 “Full disclosure: I was a nanny in Paris 15 years ago and carry the city in my heart. It’s a great book! I have to assume that the Parisians described in the book to represent French people are as exaggerated as the New Yorkers she chooses to represent Americans. I couldn’t always identify with what “Americans” do and think, but it’s a small matter. The book was hugely entertaining and informative. I found myself rooting for her, her children, and her husband to–I don’t know–make it in France, keep “sage” and happy, and make friends. So as a narrative, it was great. As a guidebook (which it was and at the same time was not), I also found it very interesting. My 2 month old, HALLELUJAH!, is sleeping through the night after one lousy week of The Pause. She never cries for long and not more than 1 time a night. That is worth the cost of 100 of this book. Also, my 15 month old seems to enjoy her meals more when I display the food, have her help me in the kitchen, and describe flavors. It’s fun for both of us. I am working with her to quiet her fits and to understand her motives. I feel empowered and encouraged to change how I address my family, to use reason, to use the framework of “education” instead of “respect.” It’s all little things, and very common sense (for Frenchies, though I as I read I discovered how many things about raising children I’d like to modify for my family). A pleasure to read.”

“I heard the author being interviewed on the radio and was intrigued by her ideas. I downloaded this book for my Kindle and thought, “OK, I’ll just read the first few pages and come back to it later.” Three chapters later I realized I was still sitting there reading! The whole book was like that. The author’s conversational style makes for easy and pleasurable reading. Her honesty and humility about her own parenting skills give this book a real “sitting around dishing with your girlfriend” feel.
Many of the techniques she describes are techniques that I, an American, have used with my 4 children but I am in the minority. I appreciated how she put a name to things that I have done but, like the French women she interviewed, did not know how to explain to someone else. I don’t think the author is trying to say that the French are the only ones who know these techniques, that is just where SHE found them, but I have seen some of these same parenting ideas in other countries as well. I have very rarely seen them used in the US and I’ve lived in 8 states. Having lived in Europe, I have found her observations about their children being better behaved, more patient and more respectful IN GENERAL to be quite true. Yes, they have bratty kids but not the PLAGUE of them that we have in the US. There is clearly something that we can learn from their approach.
The quality of the food aside, eating in a restaurant in Europe is an entirely different experience. Seeing a five year old speaking quietly and using impeccable table manners is a daily occurrence in France, England or Germany. Most Americans I know would not even believe such a thing was POSSIBLE. I think one of the most useful things this book does is to give Americans insight into what children are capable of if properly trained. I honestly think that most Americans believe that being snotty brats is “normal” childhood behavior! What the author calls “The Pause” is something that I have always done and had results exactly as she described (all 4 of my children “did their nights” by 3 months) but I have observed, as the author did, that that is not common among American parents. I am not one of those Americans who worships the French, but when they have a method that consistently WORKS, obviously better than what most of us are doing, why not look into it?”

“I bought this book, intrigued as to whose children throw food (mine are too busy eating it) and expecting a full-blown prissy nurse voice commandment manual. You know, the ones that have boxes on the page with bullet points; “strap your child into the high chair; only feed them white food on Wednesday; never let them see you drunk.”
I didn’t expect the narrative quality of this book. It tells you plenty about how the French raise their children and a whole load about how an ex pat American learns to copy their style. Pamela has basically written the story of her time raising 3 children in Paris; from meeting and marrying husband to now she tells you a lot of her personal details. It’s funny and frank and it does highlight the differences between ‘french’ and ‘american’ baby raising. I found it interesting to note that the ‘secrets’ the French use to ensure good behaviour are similar to the ones that I as an old-fashioned mother use; eating together as a family, leaving the child to self settle from an early age, not helicoptering at playgrounds and fostering independence. My children have never thrown food, and hardly threw tantrums as well.
As a reminder that sometimes we need to remember old ways and traditions as a basis for what works, this book was useful. It’s not a clear and concise read; the index and contents are a little higgledy piggledy but it is also an enjoyable story. Perhaps it truly is a French style manual where the philosophy of the practice is left to the individual to discover rather than a black and white do this don’t do that guide. It’s worth a read just to give you a moments relief that you didn’t have twins.”

“Just wanted to tell you I’ve just finished your delightfully-written and incredibly informative book, Bringing Up Bébé.
My wife and I are only now embarking on parenthood in our mid-40s, due to previous medical issues. We are expecting via surrogate in a couple of months.
The hindsight of watching all my friends’ parenting styles for the past decade has given me a strong dislike of the current American fashion—the overprotection, the child as a center that the whole family caters to—and I was searching for something that sounded more reasonable and common sense-ish.
I first read about your book in the Journal online (weird, I never read the Journal, not sure what took me there), bought it the next week, finished it tonight. It’s a revelation. I’m looking forward to my wife and I developing our own cadre and incorporating the French way of doing things into our child-rearing. (I’m sure It doesn’t hurt that I’m a francophile who has actually made croissants from scratch.)
You’re a terrific writer, and I just want to thank you for sharing and putting yourself out there, and explaining a philosophy and way of doing things that is not easy to put into words.”

“I have just devoured your book and I don’t feel guilty about all my time reading and not attending to my children…. I think I’m “modeling” the pleasure of reading!  Every page I turned I wanted to shout “That’s me! I do that!” I am born an raised in Atlanta, Georgia and have no French heritage or influences, but I swear I fit your perception of French parenting philosophy to a T!  I would love to invite your family to come visit us the next time you are in Atlanta…. your kids can eat off of real plates in my dining room just like my kids do.  I only pull out those ridiculous sippy cups when my friends INSIST that their child will spill with a regular glass.  We aren’t “fancy” at all, we just use common sense that we will all enjoy a meal better off of china and sitting down talking rather than off of plastic with the tv on in the background.  In 5 years, there have only been 2 broken dishes.
I constantly have had to defend my parenting style to my friends who are ALL overprotective.  My neighbors scoff at me and literally follow my children around the playground to hold their hands or catch them if they fall since I am always on the sidelines watching… it baffles me… why on earth would I mind if my child falls from a slide?  They have a lot of bruises but have never broken a bone yet.  Consequently my children have always had much better gross motor skills and balance than all of their friends simply because I have allowed them practice in developing their own body awareness.
Most of my parenting skills have come from a Montessori style philosophy.  Do you realize how much of your book mirrors Montessori?  I was really surprised you didn’t mention it, they are so very similar.  Montessori preaches to respect the child by giving very clear and definitive boundaries and letting them have freedom within those boundaries.  “Betises” are not morally wrong, but there is simply appropriate behavior that is expected in exchange for freedoms. The verbage typically goes like this “Oh, by banging on the counter you are showing me that you are not yet ready to use that hammer appropriately.  When you are ready to use it to hammer a nail, then let me know and you may have it back.”  From the age of 2, my children would say “that is not ap-pwo-pweate” when their friends would act up.  I never intervene when the kids are having a spat: “Mommy,  she took that toy from me.” “Oh what a bummer, I know you love that toy, you should definitely go talk to her about that problem.”  Why on earth do all my friends have to talk on behalf of their children to solve their problems?  My girlfriends roll their eyes at me when I intentionally “ignore” regular childhood disagreements, then they get up (interrupting our adult/mommy play-date time) and walk over to get the toy back on their child’s behalf.  That’s so crazy!  How will their children ever learn to problem solve if not given the opportunity to even have a problem?
Montessori also includes an emphasis on “meaningful work.”  My 4 and 5 year old daughters can load and unload the dishwasher all by themselves, as well as start their own laundry.  It is such a simple thing to teach and they take such pride in meaningful work.  And of course they have been cooking with me since before they could walk.  I simply can’t imagine having to do all the household chores myself, that is neither fair nor possible.  Your description of the doctor’s office when you apologized to your child for having to get a shot cracked me up.  I never apologize for vaccines either, to the contrary my 3 year old actually says “thank you” to the nurse giving the shot because we know the vaccines are to keep us healthy.  My children hate shots, however, we aren’t going to make a fuss or apologize for them either.  The nurses are in awe when my little tiny child sits up and watches the shot giving without having to be physically held down as is the normal practice for a toddler.  Also, I remember having to defend myself when I took my 2 year old into the doctor’s office for a cut on her hand.  They interrogated me about why her Montessori preschool would allow a 2 year old a serrated knife.  I was shocked at their disapproval… of course she needed the serrated knife, how else would she cut an orange for snack?  The butter knife is for the banana, but orange rinds require something much sharper.  Of course, she hasn’t cut herself again, she learned her lesson and all it required was some Neosporin and bandaid.
I also practiced the “pause” when they were newborns, and I never ever rocked them to sleep.  I will not rob them of the chance to be confident and self assured, and they just can’t gain that without having me back off.  Starting at age 3, my children have been flown out to Seattle (which feels like across an ocean from Atlanta) each summer to spend 7-10  days with their grandparents.  They cherish that time and they are so proud of having their own adventures independent from mommy and daddy.
I really think most of my parenting philosophy comes from Montessori, but my husband unknowingly planted the seed for this long before we got pregnant.  Right after we got engaged I made a comment about how now he and I were each other’s priority until we had kids.  He was taken aback and made it very clear that our marriage would always take priority over our (then future) children.  With that in mind, we were happy to get babysitters while they were very young so that we could have adult time away.  We simply must have a strong marriage in order to give our best to our children.
I am now expecting a third little girl due in October, and your book has joyfully and humorously reinforced my parenting intuitions.  Thank you so much for your research and humility in your storytelling.  Seriously, I’d love to invite you into our home and into our Montessori preschool.” –letter from a reader

“I am an American living in Andorra (tiny country between France and Spain) raising 3 kids under 5. My oldest 2 go to the “ecole maternelle” which is one of 3 free public school systems in the country. This book has accurately expressed so many of the observations that I have made while living abroad. She touches on nearly EVERY parenting situation that I have been baffled by and puts into words some of the particularities of American parenting. Critically examining yourself and identifying your own cultural biases is not an easy task. I applaud the author for the in depth research that she completed and her plunge into the philosophical differences of how children are defined in different cultures. Just this weekend my husband and I left our 3 kids with his parents for an anniversary lunch out. We went to a tiny restaurant in Spain and shared the restaurant with 2 other tables. One table had 3 couples, the other table consisted of their 10 kids. Our lunch lasted nearly 3 hours and I did not witness a single “incident” with those 10 kids. As we were leaving I complimented the parents on what well behaved children they had and how lucky they are. I corrected myself by then saying that I know it has nothing to do with luck. It is hard work. This author explains in detail the work required to have a happy family. And I specifically say family, because that is what the emphasis is on. The mom, the dad, the wife, the husband, the woman, the man, and the children. All of these parts have to be in balance for a happy family. Thank you, to the author for thoroughly, accurately, and concisely sharing her journey. I learned a lot from her writings and laughed plenty along the way.”

“I don’t take the time to review many books, but I felt I had to in this case. I saw this fleetingly in a bookstore and made a note to try a sample. I thought it was fiction (I didn’t have time to actually pick up the book), and I was looking forward to a simple read on a long flight. As always I checked the ratings and was horrified to find that (at the time) almost all of them were from people who saw the author on TV, or read an excerpt in an article and were actually reviewing that short exposure. That’s not a book review, and Amazon shouldn’t allow it.
I liked the sample so I ordered the book. LOVE LOVE LOVED it! I’m definitely not a Francophile, so I wasn’t predisposed to like the strategy. I was however, intrigued by the concept once I read it. What I enjoyed most is that this is more of an objective study of the contrast between the cultures through the eyes of an American ex-pat living in Paris, but married to a Brit. Wonderful fodder for an assessment of cultures. I particularly liked that she nicely blended actual research with her own personal family experiences. Much more interesting than a parenting book that is written by someone who isn’t the primary caregiver. Definitely worth the time, and very interesting!”