Monday, February 6, 2012


"Why didn't French children throw food?"


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And the little girl children never seem chubby!

kate sweet@twitter

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fantastic..good job ! @v


So my parents have been French this whole time? Fascinating. (It would go towards explaining why it seems like we're speaking in separate tongues sometimes.)

Jon Custer

To be fair: we can't really criticize the French for being pretentious and snooty while also maintaining an apparently insatiable appetite for books about how the French do everything better (and with less effort!).


@Jon Custer Who ever said we were fair?


Hahaha, half of these techniques also work with dogs!


@Megan Patterson@facebook I never understood why people always seem to get insulted when you compare children to dogs. I'm like, But no, I actually like dogs much better!


@D.@twitter He's playing fetch with my kids. He's treating my kids like they're dogs.


@D.@twitter It's true. Dogs will not even try to sass you back. AND they are not constantly bringing their sick home from preschool. AND they potty train faster.


@Megan Patterson@facebook Hah, I was about to say the same thing.


@Megan Patterson@facebook AND you don't have to pay for college.


@Megan Patterson@facebook That said, there is a brief window when they are mobile, un-housetrained, and full of sharp teeth, but at least it's a BRIEF window.


@Ophelia But it is also acceptable to put them on a leash in public during this time.


@Megan Patterson@facebook On the other hand, I have yet to see a child eat its own feces or that of another. I mean it's probably happening, but they're probably not as excited about it as dogs are


@Danzig! I just heard a story about that happening today, so...


@Craftastrophies Yeah, I am like 99% sure a baby will eat any poop you present it with.


@Megan Patterson@facebook It seems that way, if the STFU Parents tumblr is any indication.


When I first saw this article, I kinda thought it was a satire of Amy Chua's infamous WSJ essay from last year. The headline, at least, is definitely referencing Chua's piece, but now I see that this author totally takes herself seriously. Unfortunately, I cannot bring myself to take seriously anyone who would title a book "Bringing Up Bébé."

Are They Biting Ducks?

@synchronized In the author's defense, the publisher is probably the source of the title, not her.

Tragically Ludicrous

@Are They Biting Ducks? I think it had a different title in England? Because I remember the same articles coming up in the Guardian and even the Daily Mail all the time. Unless there are two books like this, which is possible. (Weirder thing: if this is the same woman, her husband wrote one of my favorite all-time soccer books.)


@Tragically Ludicrous Ah, you are correct! Then again, "French Children Don't Throw Food" isn't my favorite name, either. (I can't believe we're all still stuck on the "French Women Don't Get Fat" thing!) http://www.amazon.co.uk/French-Children-Dont-Throw-Food/dp/0385617615/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1328561222&sr=8-2

Tragically Ludicrous

@synchronized This series of articles (and parts of The Football Men, which I was really excited about but then kind of disappointed in) is kind of spoiling Football Against the Enemy for me. I wish they'd stop.


I think the better question to ask is, "Why are my children throwing food?"

Toby Jug


I wait tables. I hated this article two paragraphs in.


@Bebe Three paragraphs in and all I want to do is ask, "Why are sugar packets and salt shakers within reach of your 18 month old while she is in her highchair, and why would you let her out to run around a restaurant?"


@Toby Jug the worst thing that could happen when I was waiting tables (in my opinion) is when they gave you a large family with many young kids. Also, I was an awful waitress.


@celacia I don't even have kids, and I know the first thing you do when you sit down is move absolutely everything on the table out of the kids' reach. The second thing you do is hand them some crayons and paper.


@beanie: "Oh, you want some crackers for your Toddler? Would you like me to grind them into the carpet for her or will she be fine doing it by herself?"


"Why didn't French children throw food?" The second someone threw food at them, they surrendered!


Temporary French Kid 1 just interrupted my Hairpinning by flinging rice pudding into the hair of Temporary French Kid 2. I don't think a year in the care of English Girls is helping their manners.

Faintly Macabre

This kind of comparison was the theme of my entiiiire homestay. Example: You had to do chores to get an allowance? Uh oh, we don't make our son do chores! But your room here is always a mess! Yay, your parents were ineffectual after all! (Sidenote: my host parents were actually generally wonderful, just sometimes frustrating!)

However, do the author and paper actually think disciplining your child is such a revelation to Americans? If my sister or I had even hinted at behaving like that toddler, my parents would have asked if we wanted to spend the entire meal sitting outside on the stairs and never. come. back. Just because this woman and her husband are bad at disciplining doesn't mean all of her fellow Americans are equally clueless.


@Faintly Macabre But her sample sizes are so huge! Her kids and... one other person's kids!

It MUST be all American kids vs all French kids. It's the only answer.

Faintly Macabre

"Frédérique smiled again and told me not to shout but rather to speak with more conviction. I was scared that I would terrify [my son]."



@Faintly Macabre But... his fee fees!!


I will be the first to admit that I mostly avoided restaurants with my child during certain toddler phases but also that firmness and insistence do not always win with particularly stubborn kids. Childhood--and parenting--seem to be a series of phases; she is getting better at controlling herself, and I'm getting better at keeping an even keel. There are no perfect parents out there, but damned if everyone isn't trying to us feel like we're doing a shitty job for doing too much. It always strikes me as unfortunate that all the disdain for overprotecive/helicopter, etc. parents isn't held up alongside the neglectful parents. That's a much greater crisis than too many lessons and snacks.


Am I the only one that kind of liked this article? Sure, it's annoyingly Francophile, but as the mother of a two-year-old, I appreciated that it both acknowledged that 1) discipline is tough shit, and sometimes exhausting and 2) it can(/must) be done without permanently scarring your children. I work hard at discipline and consistency, but I have to admit, sometimes I just want to say eff it and order take out.


@Shara No, I liked it a lot. The idea of having limits, but letting your kids do what they want within them is pretty much how I grew up, and I think it makes a lot of sense. The only thing I didn't really like was the fact that it took her what, like 5 years of observation to pick up on that? But maybe it's the tone I'm objecting to more than the content.


@Shara No, I also liked it, not for its crazy OMG-FRANCE! thing, but because I do believe that boundaries are what kids really need. Our lives are full of boundaries and rules, and we need to find ways to express ourselves without crossing them- as in, if you want to be in a band, you totally should, but you need to find a place to practice that isn't in your crowded apartment complex. Your kids need to respect you, and no one respects someone who lets them run around a restaurant and destroy all of the sugar packets (ref. to the author, of course!).

Tragically Ludicrous

The thing about this is: has the author not been to a museum in Europe, outside of France? The worst-behaved people I have ever seen in my life are groups of French schoolchildren in museums outside of France. They run amok, they're loud, they fuck with the art, their teachers have no interest in disciplining or controlling them. It seems that once a kid is let outside of France, it doesn't matter what they do. I dread going into museums if there are French youngsters about.

Jon Custer

@Tragically Ludicrous And then I asked myself, "Why didn't the American children burn my car?"


@Tragically Ludicrous: I lived with a Parisian family for 6 weeks before my year at University of Geneva. The 12-year-old daughter acted like a whiny toddler, and the 16-year-old son thought he was God's gift to everyone and treated me like a servant. I pretty much ran out the door at the end of the stay.


@Tragically Ludicrous You know, I did a lot of nodding when I read this article, mostly because I am a pending mother, which means I can still be really judgey about the parenting choices of others. However, your comment reminded me of how hard I fantasized about murdering a French 13-year-old after she elbowed me out of the way when I was looking at the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London last spring.

So, really, what we're saying here is that French parents need to work on teaching their children to fear and respect other adults before an angry American chucks someone off the Bloody Tower.


@Tragically Ludicrous All children in all museums everywhere are terrible. The worst group of school children I've ever seen were in a museum in Tokyo. Small children in Japan are relatively rare and generally well-behaved and quiet, except in museums, where they were all over the place and into everything.

Tragically Ludicrous

@KatnotCat The French just seem really bad, at least in the UK. When I was studying there I would go to the British Museum at least once a week, and there were always French schoolkids being assholes and getting chased by the guards. It's a big museum, lots of kids and school groups, but none of them were as poorly behaved.


Imagine that: Setting and maintaining boundaries with your kids--i.e., acting like an adult--helps them learn how to behave. And you can even be affectionate at the same time.

Okay, frankly, it's easy for me to be snarky because I don't have kids of my own and don't want any--and the difficulty of maintaining that balance between discipline and affection is part of why. That is hard stuff, probably too much for me. But the tone of surprise in the article was annoying. It took her how long to figure out that no must really mean no?

Faintly Macabre

@MissT123 I babysit a lot, and even then I'm pretty vigilant about manners, cleaning stuff up, sitting on your bottom in chairs, etc. As others have pointed out, it's way harder to do that when it's 24/7 and you're exhausted. On the other hand, as a young non-family-member, I only have so much influence/punishment power over the kids. In my experience, kids with decent-seeming parents don't like me any less for keeping them in line, but kids with obviously waaaaay over-indulgent parents get upset for me even trying. (And occasionally the parents do as well!)


You know, I don't think the part where french parents have so much more support from their government is really a tiny little sidenote. I suspect it's much easier to maintain firm and pleasant boundaries when you are not going out of your mind from exhaustion and isolation. The fact that the french are so vigilant about maintaining a fairly homogeneous society probably helps, too. I doubt that snacks at 4 and only 4 thing is going to work very well if you're the only family on the black doing it.


@katherinerine The fact that the french are so vigilant about maintaining a fairly homogeneous society probably helps, too.

They try to make it look that way, but it's never really been the case. I do wonder if French children who weren't wealthy enough to be raised inside the Parisian metropolitan area have fared so well.


@katherinerine And also, if you don't need to ace your Mandarin and Physics to get a scholarship for College, it's much easier to relax about your kids having extracurricular activities.

Jon Custer

Perhaps the ready availability and social acceptance of birth control also plays a part, at least if this ad is to be believed.


This person does not actually know any French families. I adore my goddaughter and hope she has a happy career as an opera singer, but you don't know from tantrums.


@Kakapo Not even French citizenship can tame the tempestuous moods of professional singers


i was a nanny for too many years, and i think the problem- no matter where you live- is that a lot of people are just lazy parents, because they think Terrible Twos are something babies grow out of. well, they don't grow out of behaving like little assholes if you never let them know those shenanigans are unacceptable, and the nanny wont always be around to help out.


"sniffy Parisian", eh? I like to remind Americans who think Parisians are "sniffy" that Parisians are sniffy when provoked. I lived there for 13 years. I like Parisians. They don't get in my face, they maintain a polite distance, and they respond well when approached by someone not acting like a clown (ie speaking English loudly, or being so ridiculously self-effacing about their accent that they render themselves completely incomprehensible. And believe me, I've tried both, and found that maintaining your calm and your dignity is a better way to be understood and tolerated by Parisians.)
Sniffy Parisian, indeed.
And yes, French children are certainly raised to be much more polite in restaurants (though not necessarily in museums, as noted above) than the unattended brats I have to shoo away from my dog while walking in the park, or from my table when I eat out here in NYC. But like any child, if they see you're a big fat sucker who's afraid to displease even a little child, they'll be rude to you, too.

Zeki Yol@facebook

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