Mommy Face-Off: American Moms vs. French Moms

Feb 2, 2012 3:23pm

First, the Tiger Mom made us feel like we’re not tough enough, now French moms in “Bringing Up Bebe” are making us feel like we’re not mothering, we’re smothering. 

The truth is American moms take parenting seriously, so maybe it’s buzzy because the truth hurts.  Both critiques suggest that we American moms OVER INDULGE our children.  C’mon, are we spoiling our kids rotten?  I immediately flash to my 4-year-old, hands on hips, steely resolve on face.

You can read more about the tips from the book here, but much of it focuses on not giving in to your kids’ demands. No means NO!

I definitely want to have a firmer hand with my kids. I’m jealous of the no-means-NO rule – which nixes negotiating with your children - but Jen Pate and Barb Machen, bloggers and the authors of the book “The Mother of Reinvention” beg to differ.

Pate says proudly, “My son is going to be a lawyer when he’s older. He is a negotiator.”

And Machen chimes in, “I think negotiation is an important part of growing up. I mean, it’s a skill you need to learn. You go out to get a job. You gotta know how to negotiate.”

Pate, though, made a lot of sense when she said, “Listen, Americans are also the melting pot. There are French-Americans. There are Chinese-Americans. I mean, and we take a little bit of all of the cultures that we were born with. So hopefully, we can kind of pick and choose and, you know, craft the right little experience for us.”

I think it’s just that lingering self-doubt that seems peculiarly American but that leads to self-improvements.  We are an Oprah nation that struggles to always find our better selves.  And there is something alluring about the perfect French madame who can eat brie and stay skinny … and now they’re better parents, too?!  Aaaaargh.

Machen cheered me up though.  She said simply, “Yeah, enough with that. They’ve got the food. They’ve got the fashion. They’re not getting the parenting. … We are the better parenters.  There is no question.” Mon Dieu!!

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