French Children Don’t Throw Food –
Parenting Secrets From Paris
By Pamela Druckerman
Doubleday – £15.00
If you’ve ever wondered why so many young adults and children are almost out of control in the UK, perhaps you should read this book.
Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, a child-minder or a child psychologist; I really can’t recommend French Children Don’t Throw Food – Parenting Secrets From Paris more highly. Not only is it an unscientific and enjoyable read, it’s enlightening as well as something of an idiosyncratic inspiration. For even though France is just across the English Channel (a mere sixty or so nautical miles from Hastings I do believe), when it comes to parenting and educating children, it might just as well be as far away as the moon.
There are many, many reasons for this, one of which, unsurprisingly, concerns the actual condition of a nation’s health care system, as the Paris based American authoress Pamela Druckerman (married to a Brit) states early on: ‘’[…] the last time the World Health Organization ranked healthcare systems, France was first, while Britain’s was eighteenth (America’s was thirty-seventh).’’
Admittedly, this is a little surprising giving France’s renowned record for being just a tad lacklustre when it comes to organization, although in truth, it may partially explain its underlying penchant for patience; which, given the B-I-G parental picture, carries a colossal amount of philosophical weight. And it is precisely this subject that is most clearly and concisely explained by Druckerman in the fourth chapter ‘Wait!’ (which as a title, is more than a little apt to say the least): ‘’[…] kids need patience in order to absorb […] experiences fully. In the French view, having the self-control to be calmly present, rather than anxious, irritable and demanding, is what allows kids to have fun.
French parents and carers don’t think that kids have infinite patience. They don’t expect toddlers to sit through symphonies or formal banquets. They usually talk about waiting in terms of minutes or seconds (my italics).
But even these small delays seem to make a difference. I’m now convinced that the secret of why French kids don’t whine (well, hardly ever) and don’t often collapse into tantrums is that they’ve developed the internal resources to cope with frustration. They don’t expect to get what they want instantly.’’
The manifestation of said ‘’resources to cope with frustration’’ explains why one doesn’t often hear of French teenagers throwing acid in the face of someone who has asked them to be quiet in the cinema, or stabbing one another to death over something as ridiculously petty as trainers.
French Children Don’t Throw Food is a very valuable and important book.
If you’re about to become a parent – or are just a little concerned about the slippery, happy-slapping highway Britain now finds itself on – I’d highly recommend you read it.