Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
There is a lot of buzz going on right now about a book called Bringing Up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman, insinuating that the French are better than us Americans at being parents.
My question isn’t whether or not the French are better at raising kids, because not only is “better” a relative term, but it is also pretty generic.
So instead, I’m willing to learn, in what ways the French are perceived as better than we are at parenting. On the flip side, how are Americans better at it?
To educate myself on the subject, I read a blog post written by Paige Bradley Frost, an American woman raising her children in Paris. She shares:
“We therefore define ‘good parenting’ in vastly different ways. A ‘good mother’ in the U.S. (a virtually unattainable state of grace) is, by definition, a deeply involved and engaged mother. A sit-on-the-floor, clap your hands, dig in the sandbox, finger painting kind of gal.”
She goes on to explain that our self-sacrificing, American version of parenting is considered to be “absurd” by the French, who are more structured and less hands-on in raising their children.
From what I am gathering, it appears we as Americans would view the French as cold, militant parents whose children are well-behaved yet practically unloved. Meanwhile, the French view American parents as overly involved to the point our kids don’t respect our authority as they should.
This excerpt is taken from the book description for Bringing Up Bebe:
“…The French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play.”
Based on my experience as an American dad who is extremely observant of what other parents say on Facebook and in parenting blog comments, I would say that most American parents truly desire a balance between the two stereotypes.
We don’t want to be “that parent” who lets their kid run around crazy inside a TJ Maxx, tossing out empty threats of discipline but never following through.
Nor do we want to be uninvolved and apathetic in our children’s personal interests, forcing them to take piano lessons and making all their decisions for them.
I don’t want to be a stereotypical parent, whether it’s French or American. But I do want the best of both worlds in parenting: structured and disciplined yet affectionate and open to my child’s individuality.
As a stereotypical young American who believes I can do anything I put my heart in, I believe I can live in this mythical middle ground.
Thursday, September 16th, 2010
Until this week, I didn’t even know how to spell “Lamaze”, or even more importantly, what exactly it meant. All I knew is that it involved breathing techniques for women in labor. Monday night we had our first Lamaze class (out of six) and now I have a better understanding of what this is all about: Lamaze (named after a French doctor) classes help expecting parents to prepare for the birth of their child ideally without the use of medical intervention (AKA: going natural).
I think our take on “going natural” with this birth is currently along the lines of “let’s just see if we can do it”. Ideally, we won’t use pain medication, and a C-section won’t be necessary. But we obviously recognize it may not happen that way. We half-way joke with each other that if we can do this without an epidural, we’ll spend that saved money on a trip to Maine. I’m seriously planning on printing off a picture of us on our honeymoon at Kennebunkport to take when we go to the hospital, as inspiration. But we’ll see how it turns out in reality. I’m starting to care less either way.
With us starting Lamaze classes, it takes us to a whole new level of “Wow, this is really happening!” We’re both having weird, off-the-wall dreams, evidently fueled by our subconscious anxieties. I recently dreamt that Jack was born with light blonde hair and blue eyes, which I think is near impossible given our particular genes, though Uncle Jesse and Aunt Rebecca from Full House had blonde twins (and I could never get past that).
We both have sore backs these days, as it’s hard to sleep comfortably for either of us because my wife has to sleep sideways now with about five pillows, meaning I’m limited to a smaller sleeping space. But hey, I’m not complaining. I just want to do anything necessary to help her feel a little more comfortable during the pregnancy. And we are starting to feel this sense of unsettledness as we count down these final eight weeks or so. It’s getting to the point where we are both thinking, “Enough of this pregnancy stuff, I’m just ready for him to be born already!”
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
Categories: People, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: babies, baby, dad from day one, dreams, expecting parents, French, Full House, honeymoon, Kennebunkport, labor, Lamaze, Lamaze classes, Maine, natural, parenting, pregnancy, Smurfs, stork
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
What will be his or her heritage? How tall will he or she be as an adult? Boy or girl? I’m answering the tough questions today, based on educated theories.
This series isn’t a “baby blog”. Instead, it’s a documented journey of what a first time dad thinks about, starting from when I first found out and started sharing the news with everyone. Because this info is coming from a man, who processes things in black and white, it’s possible that the tone will be a mix of both practical and abstract. No goo-goo gah-gah. But maybe a little nanu-nanu.
In fraction form, here are the proportions of my coming child’s ethnicity:
1/4 Italian (my wife and I are both this)
1/8 Croatian (from my wife; Croatia is the country we know today as “Transylvania”, The Count from Sesame Street speaks with a Croatian accent)
1/8 Mexican (from me, my mom’s mom’s family moved to Buffalo from Mexico)
1/8 Norwegian (my wife’s grandfather on her dad’s side was from Norway, but was adopted by an English couple in Iowa)
1/8 German (from me, where the Shell name comes from, as well as a little bit from my wife’s Norwegian side)
1/8 Irish (my wife’s grandmother on her dad’s side came to America as an indentured servant from Ireland)
1/8 English (from me, where the pale skin and light freckles come from)
*Greek (higher up on my dad’s family tree, there were two separate Greek ancestors; family tradition tell us that a Greek ended up on the Italian side as well)
*French (in my wife’s Italian lineage, family tradition tells us that a Frenchman got thrown in the mix)
*Jewish (my Mexican grandmother swears that my late Italian grandfather was part Jewish, and based on the family’s speech patterns, uses of random Hebrew words, and quirky behavior, I’m convinced it’s true)
Virtually, on both my wife’s side and my side of the gene pool, there is no man 6 feet tall or more, nor is there a woman 5’ 8” or more. Combined with the fact that I am 5’ 9” (the average height of the American man) and my wife is 5’ 6” (two inches taller than the average height of the American woman), here are the most likely height ranges for our child once they become full grown:
Boy: between 5’ 8” and 5’ 11”
Girl: between 5’ 3” and 5’ 7”
Hair color on both sides generally ranges from medium brown to jet black, therefore it’s most likely the child will have semi-wavy, dark brown hair. Though I do have two blonde-haired, blue-eyed aunts and also a red-headed, green-eyed aunt as well.
In one of my Mexican grandma’s dreams, the baby was a girl. But based on a Vietnamese co-worker who correctly predicted the gender of my boss’s kid based on a Chinese calendar, he told me that there is a 70% change it is a boy. My wife’s mom gave birth to 10 kids, and only 3 were girls.
My instinct tells me it’s a girl. We’ll know in eight weeks if I’m wrong.
All this baby guesswork makes me think of those commercials for Puppy Surprise from 1992: “Puppy, puppy, puppy surprise… How many puppies are there inside? There could be three, or four, or five…”
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
Categories: People, The Dadabase | Tags: American, baby blog, boy or girl, Chinese calendar, Croatia, Croatian, dad from day one, English, ethinicity, family tree, fatherhood, French, gender, German, goo goo gah gah, Greek, hair color, having kids, Hebrew, height, heritage, Iowa, Ireland, Irish, Italian, Jewish, journal, Mexican, Mork and Mindy, nanu nanu, Nick Shell, Norwegian, pregnancy, Puppy Surprise, Sesame Street, The Count, Transylvania, Vietnamese, Year of the Tiger