Bringing Up Bébé: Tiny Humans and Day Cares

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back for week 3 in our book study of *Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman! Over the course of the last two weeks we’ve been really jumping in with great conversation about the American vs French approach to parenting. I’ve been really enjoying this book and learning so much thus far and I hope you are too!

If you’re a first time visitor and are curious about this book study, be sure to check out all the details on the book study page. I’d love to have you join whether it’s just in the comments, writing up your own reflection post and linking up, or even snagging a guest spot! Oh, and don’t worry – this book is perfect for all women regardless of if you’re expecting, already have children, or have no children but are curious about parenting and learning new Jedi mind tricks.

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tiny little humans

Being an educator and having spent a large portion of my early twenties studying child development and just how children learn, this latest chapter not only has me reminiscing about all those classes I took in the years past, but also has me changing my perspective from teacher to future parent. This chapter really digs into the core of French parenting in regards to how kids learn and who they are as growing individuals. Piaget is thrown in there along with Rousseau to give the reader a bit of a history/philosophy lesson on early child development and how that shapes not only French parenting, but the foundation of parenting as a whole.

I agree with Pamela’s assertion that the ‘American Question’ has always been: How can we speed these stages up? Piaget’s theory is based in that children should reach their milestones as they discover the world around them and that speeding up this process is neither possible nor desirable for the child.

“We Americans assign ourselves the job of pushing, stimulating, and carrying our kids from one developmental stage to the next. The better we are at parenting, we think, the faster our kids will develop” (pg. 82).

I constantly hear conversations amongst parents, friends of mine who are parents, and others discuss what fancy classes or prestigious preschools they’re enrolling their kids in – all in efforts to give them the edge above all the other kids, and not to mention the parents. I don’t personally believe that a child’s ability to reach a milestone is any indication of what good/bad of a parent you are – however I do understand this pressure parents put on themselves. I see it all the time.

Something that spoke to me was this French concept of a child “awakening” and “discovering” the world on their own and in their own timing. It occurred to me while I was reading that all of a sudden I feel validated in my teaching style and how that will translate to me as a parent. I’ve always had a firm, but gentle, approach to children and believing that we should offer them controlled choices. This is referred to as cadre, or a framework, in which children have very firm boundaries set by the adults, but are given the freedom of choice within those boundaries. It gives the child the feeling of being able to decide for themselves, but within the confines of adult-set boundaries or expectations. It’s amazing to see this described across the board both in French homes and child centers.

We, as adults, should offer our children controlled choices. This is referred to as cadre, or a framework, in which children have very firm boundaries set by the adults, but are given the freedom of choice within those boundaries. It gives the child the feeling of being able to decide for themselves, but within the confines of adult-set boundaries or expectations. It’s amazing to see this described across the board. Establish cadre in your own home with these easy-to-implement steps!

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A major takeaway from this chapter for me was how the French envision children as these tiny little humans that are capable of understanding and learning, even fresh out of the shoot. I’m loving this idea of bringing baby home and introducing them to the home, talking to them and explaining the routines, introducing them to the family pets, etc.

Pamela describes an example of this ability to educate when her daughter was only about 10 months old. Her daughter had learned to pull herself up and soon begin pulling books off of a bookshelf. Pamela admits that she would just go behind her and clean up, whereas a French friend of hers one day interjects and kneels down beside her daughter and calmly explains that, “we don’t do that.” She then proceeds to show the young babe how to put the books back and tells her to leave them there. Pamela says the shocking part was that her daughter listened to her friend and actually obeyed her. It proved that even at 10 months old, her daughter was capable of understanding and learning a bit of self-control – something the French instill in their children very early on.

I certainly believe that babies are extremely observational, even rational, little people and should be treated as such.

Do/did you ever feel the pressure to keep up with The Jones’?

day care?

Did anyone else find themselves getting a bit jealous while reading this chapter about French day cares, or crèches? I personally loved the history lesson on how they were established, and even how the concept was brought over to America, to assist poor working-class mothers. Eventually, and like anything, these crèches evolved over time and now all kinds of variations of the centers are available.

The other thing that caught my attention, and inner educator, is the intense training all caregivers and auxiliaries de puériculture have to go through in order to even look after these little ones. First theres an entrance exam, out of about 500 applicants only about 30 will be selected to go to the training school. There, there’s extensive studies on reasoning, reading comprehension, math, and human biology. Those who pass and make it to the second round of training are given a psychological exam, an oral presentation, and interrogation by a panel of experts. THEN…those who pass that will go on to complete a year of coursework and internship, which of course is all set and determined by the French government. It doesn’t take much for anyone to realize that to work in a day care center in France is a career – a concept that is absent here in America.

I’ve truly enjoyed these last few chapters and I love how Pamela seamlessly connects one chapter to the next. I’ve got all kinds of ideas floating around in my mind about how I’d like to approach this whole parenting thing. It doesn’t seem as scary or unpredictable as it once did. I think reading through this book and having you all to talk it out with has really helped me get a handle on what to really expect!

Join us next week for chapters 7 & 8!
Also, there’s a guest post spot open for this week so if you’re interested please email me!

To Link Up:

  1. Link up your blog post relating to this book study (not a link to your blog) and chapters discussed
  2. I encourage you all to visit and leave meaningful comments to each of the ladies who are linking up
  3. Tweet or Instagram your posts and this book study with the hashtag #bebebookstudy so we can easily find each other!

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  • Iryna

    I also enjoyed these 2 chapters. The idea of “awakening” and “discovering” the world on their own is what seems right and organic. it reinforces the natural curiosity and exploration in kids early on.
    And their child care enters are definitely something that America is missing on. I wish local preschools/day cares were more affordable with the same high quality education.

    • I was shocked to read about how much the government oversees the day cares in France. I think it’s a great concept and resource for parents with infants/toddlers. Something I can really appreciate is this idea of French parenting can be seen across the board from within the home and in their education system. No wonder these things work!

      Thanks for linking up Iryna! 🙂