Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting - Pamela Druckerman I found this book very helpful. BUT, like many e-books, it tricked me by ending at the 86% mark- after that it was all index, etc. I hate that! I thought I had a good 10% left!

Format woes aside, I enjoyed this little foray into the parenting how-to genre, mostly because it wasn't so much a "how-to" as it was a borderline anthropology experiment. It relies on a premise I've seen done several times over the last few years, starting with [b:French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook|7017252|French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook|Mireille Guiliano||7263363]. Basically, an American/British/non-continental woman looks at the French way of doing something, most often having to do with diet and/or scarf tying, and determines she wants to learn the je ne se quois of the method and share the secret with the world.

So Pamela Druckerman, expat American married to a Brit, has a baby while living in France. While going through the grueling cycle of sleeplessness and tantrums, she notices that the French mothers around her don't seem to be suffering under the same stresses, or not to the same degree. French children are notoriously well-behaved- they say hello to strangers, they sleep through the night, and best of all, they know how to sit through an ENTIRE MEAL without crying, running around or throwing their entree at the waiter. Druckerman, entranced by this seemingly preternatural skill, undertakes to study the phenomenon in its natural habitat and give us poor American mothers the scoop.

Some complaints have been leveled at Druckerman- let's face it, no one likes to actually admit those crazy French people do something better than Americans- but for the most part she doesn't outline some step-by-step plan that she expects anyone to follow. Rather, she just makes a few observations that she was able to semi-successfully apply to her own three children. Most of her observations are common sense of a kind that strung-out, helicoptering American parents have lost sight of- simple things like speaking to your child like a rational creature or allowing them some space to be children rather than constantly worrying about their aptitude for reading or math when barely out of diapers. There are some issues covered that really are "impossible" for American parents; French social structure provides the kind of childcare average Americans can only dream of, and the variety of fresh, healthy meals available to French children is beyond what most average, urban Americans (or Brits, for that matter) can access/afford.

In her "experiment,"Druckerman covers some of the more important aspects of maintaining sanity during your child's formative years, namely sleeping through the night, eating like a civilized human being, and carving out an adult existence outside of the demands of parenthood (with minimal guilt). There are some ideas that I have taken from this that I hope to apply to my son when he is born in a few months. Even if this were the only thing gained, I would be reasonably happy with [b:Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting|13152287|Bringing Up Bébé One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting|Pamela Druckerman||17885255], but since Druckerman's writing style and parenting experiences were entertaining even without the instructional aspect, I have to rate this pretty highly. Perhaps it's my incipient "mommy brain," but I enjoyed this and hope other people who are currently or soon to be raising small children will give it a read, no matter how they feel about the French.