Posts Tagged ‘ Catherine Crawford ’

Catherine Crawford, Author of French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting Gives Great Discipline Tips

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

From what I understand, French kids eat spinach, don’t talk back, and aren’t enrolled in an outrageous amount of extra-curricular activities. I need these children. I am down with French parenting if it means I don’t need to worry about kindergarten math tutoring. (I did this with my 4-year-old until I got a life.) I can’t stop reading about French parenting, so I’m happy that mom and author Catherine Crawford just wrote French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian ParentingThis is one of my book picks for 2013.

What’s wrong with American parenting? According to Crawford, it all bowls down to the following three words: “baby yoga pants.” But it’s not too late for us, even if we are American. Tired of your kids fighting, jumping on the couch and leaving their chewing gum wrappers all over the house? Here are five French-inspired parenting and discipline tips written by Crawford herself.

“I’m a sucker for books about cultural parenting and have read what feels like a Kindle-full about different international approaches. Still, it wasn’t until I had some specimens (that is, a real live French family) under my own Brooklyn roof that I was really able to imagine a possible connection to our chaotic home-life. Referred to as “the experiment,” my husband and I made a pact to research and then practice the French techniques with our young daughters to see if we could improve certain unwelcome behaviors.  

One of the things we learned is that it’s just not possible to raise kids in the United States entirely like they do in France—and I don’t really want to. Some lessons were golden, though. Take, for example, the Franco approach to discipline. Ol’ Fyodor Dostoevsky probably wasn’t thinking much about French childrearing when he set out to write Crime and Punishment, but the shared spirit of his book and Franco parenting style can’t be denied. For most French parents, if a kid breaks a rule, they are bestowed with an appropriate punishment. How refreshingly simple.

The first time I really realized that my kids weren’t getting their just desserts ever (but were still getting way too much dessert) was when my French friend helped me out with a penance for my Daphne, then a toddler, who’d decorated our hallway with marker. My pathetic solution was to explain–to this 2-year old–what she’d done wrong. Mon amie, on the other hand, suggested that in addition to an explanation, I put Daphne to work getting the scribbles off with a sponge and some soapy water. My daughter was zero help with the cleanup–in fact eventually we had to repaint–but she did understand the consequences of red ink on Benjamin Moore Acadia White paint (matte).

It takes a little more effort than the half-hearted threats I’d grown accustomed to or a conversation on the nature of wrongdoing, but once my kids realized that bad behavior would generate a true consequence, delinquency in my house dwindled markedly.

To get started, here’s my French approach to dealing with a few particularly grating violations:

Climbing on Furniture: A couple of years ago, if someone had given me a quarter every time I had to say “stop jumping the couch,” I’d have had enough scratch to replace a beaten sofa as needed.  Sadly, I had no magic keeper of the cushions–just a busted couch. The good news is that these days I almost never have use for that irksome phrase because my girls know that if I catch them jumping on the couch, the price is that they must sit still on it for a good long time to think about what a sofa is meant for. If there’s one thing most kids absolutely detest it’s having to sit and think. Really, mini-Rodins, they are not. So give it a try. If you find your kid on top of the dining room table, make him set it for the next family meal (regardless of what time it is).

Fighting: I’ve got two girls. I swear on all that is sacred and domestically blissful that ever since I’ve counterbalanced my inner pushover, Franco-style, my daughters have become better playmates.  Maybe they are banding together as “the kid team” because I’ve made it clear that, in many household matters, we are not equals. Whatever their reasoning, I love it. I love it so much that it’s now become particularly difficult for me to tolerate fighting, which is still not quite extinct. I’ve now got a real response, though.

When your kids fight, don’t immediately jump in and start talking it out. Chez moi, that usually just ends up with everyone shouting. Sequester your kids together in their room (or one of their rooms if they don’t share), and tell them they can only come out when they’ve buried the hatchet. It’s like a kid version of Dante’s Inferno, except it’s temporary and there’s an exit.

Leaving trash around the house: I’m the kind of mom that hands out gum pretty freely. What can I say, I like gum. What I don’t like is when my kids–lucky enough to get gum–leave the papers all over the house. For years I’d tell them that if I found errant wrappers, they would no longer be allowed to chew gum. And yet I never took the gum away (see reference to former pushover above).  However, I finally figured it out. Now, instead of taking away a future, phantom stick of Orbit, when I find a gum wrapper on the floor I’ve also found myself a garbage collector or two. Little girls, at least mine, are not huge fans of emptying wastebaskets. Who is, really?”

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10 Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2013

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Bookworms will love the lineup of parenting memoirs and advice that are scheduled for release in 2013. I know I am. Here are the books I can’t wait to read in the New Year. Stay tuned for my write ups about them on this blog.

The Heavy: A Mother Daughter Memoir
by Dara-Lynn Weiss
Did you hear about the mom who put her 7-year-old daughter on a strict diet and wrote about it for Vogue? Author Dara Lynn-Weiss caused such a stir that she got a book deal. This memoir tells the story from start to finish–how the doctor labeled her little girl obese, and how this mother decided to take care of it. The book is supposed to be brutally honest, and Lynn-Weiss claims that her insights will help other parents in the same situation. (Jan. 15)

Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye: A Family Field Trip to the Arctic’s Edge in Search of Adventure, Truth, and Mini-Marshmallows
by Zac Unger
In this memoir, one dad takes his family to Antarctica–Churchill, Manitoba to be exact. In the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” he examines a faraway place that’s one of Mother Nature’s last strongholds. A seasoned writer, he observes the human relationship with the great bears. And he took his wife and two kids there! (Jan. 29)

The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals
by Kelly Rudnicki
The author runs the helpful and popular blog, The Food Allergy Mama, and she also wrote the companion book The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking BookShe has five kids, one with severe food allergies. All recipes are free of milk, butter, cheese, eggs and nuts. She uses easy-to-find, inexpensive ingredients to make dishes like oatmeal fudge bars. (Feb. 5)

The Secrets of Happy Families
by Bruce Feiler
Popular New York Times columnist and best-selling author promises another warm and helpful book. He often writes beautifully about religion (Walking the Bible), but this one focuses on innovative ways to connect as a family. He didn’t go to psychologists for advice but instead to Silicon Valley execs and folks on the set of Modern Family. Some of the surprising advice in this book will be to ditch the sex talk, don’t worry about family dinner and let your kids pick their own punishments. (Feb. 19)

The Still Point of the Turning World
by Emily Rapp
Rapp’s books (Poster Child) and articles are beautiful to read, but her piece in the New York Times called Notes from a Dragon Mom was particularly heartbreaking. In it, she writes about the short life of her young son Ronan who is diagnosed with Tay-Sachs. In her trademark way, she gently takes readers on her family’s difficult journey. (March 7)

French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting
by Catherine Crawford
For readers who were into in the controversial book Bringing Up Bebe, this book offers another intimate look into the secrets of French parenting. Instead of going to Paris to immerse her family in French ways, the author brings French attitudes to Brooklyn. She writes about her European hands-off approach and how it worked magnificently–most of the time–with her two kids. Now they eat lamb chops! (March 12)

Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives
by John Elder Robison
Diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 40, this dad writes about the adventures he has raising his son Cubby. Irreverent, hilarious and a little dark, this book is gives readers an inside look at what it’s like to be a person on the autism spectrum. He hopes to inspire his readers to embrace and celebrate misfits and geeks. If you’ve seen or read Running with Scissors, you might have met John–he is Augusten Burroughs’ brother. (March 12)

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures
by Amber Dusik
Hiliarious Parents’ writer Dusik finally gets to crack readers up with her own parenting book, and yes, the pictures are really bad. She’s a popular blogger, but in this book she delves into life with kids while sharing stories. Silly ones like the time her child asked if clowns will throw pies at her at the circus. She’s aiming for a funny run of stories and essays along the lines of Jenny Lawson’s Let Pretend this Never Happened. (March 19)

The Object of My Conception
by Elisabeth Rohm
Rohm, best known for her role on Law and Order, blogged about her infertility for, and she was overwhelmed by the positive responses from women who were going through the same thing. In her memoir, she tells the story of her fertility issues, her IVF treatments and her successful journey into motherhood. (April 9)

Learning to Listen: A Life Caring for Children
by T. Berry Brazelton
Fans of this caring and famous pediatrician will be interested in the story of his life. From growing up in Texas to heading to Princeton and Harvard to diving into research on newborn babies, this book tells the story of a great man in his own words. You probably know his seminal book Touchstones, a handbook for all parents of babies from birth to age 3. (April 9)

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