Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The globalization of parenting

Do you remember Tiger Mom? Last year she wrote a book, a Wall Street Journal article, and landed the TIME magazine cover about her Chinese parenting style. She horrified the world by telling stories of abuse (no playing, harsh-worded critiques and so on) for her children's greatest good with firm maternal confidence. Everyone agreed she is a monster and that her parenting style should not be an inspiration to anyone.

After Tiger mom, this year seems to be the time of Chic Mom. And who better to impersonate her than a French woman? The even invented the word. The book "Bringing up Bebé" by Pamela Druckerman is indeed having everyone talking.

The word going around is that French women are better mothers than American ones. Shock and irritation at first, but once their secret is unlocked everyone is forced to agree that discipline has its perks. We are not talking discipline à la Tiger Mom, which is not chic at all. Rather, we refer to a parenting strategy that privileges waiting to respond to kids' needs in order to teach them more autonomy. This strategy is supposed to be in everybody's best interest, because while children learn more autonomy, their French moms can have the time to cultivate their identity as chic women.

I am all for not losing sight of yourself as a woman when becoming a mother (why would have I otherwise started this blog?). I also agree that spoiling your kids rotten is not in anybody's best interest. Yet I do not buy it. If raising my son has taught me something, is that the best parenting rules allow for a lot of flexibility. For instance, I am sure Chic Mom would be horrified to know that sometimes, even today that he is five years old, my son sleeps in our bed. Is it right or wrong? I do not honestly care. It works for us. As Sarah Maizes correctly pointed out in her review of the book:
Some kids need a bit of “this” and a heavy dose of “that.”  Some need a dash of “that” and a sprinkling of “this.”  But in the end, the only time-tested ingredient you can add is a heapin’ helpin’ of love, then sit back and hope your child will rise.

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