After reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about “Why French Parents are Superior” by Pamela Druckerman, it finally hit me that some of my child-rearing methods are actually more French than I care to admit. I’m not French, but I spent a good chunk of my youth growing up in the suburbs of Paris.
My three sons are adults now, and grew up in the U.S., however, Druckerman brought up one main difference between French parenting and American parenting that struck a chord. She said, “Who’s the boss?” She then gave the French answer:
French parents say, “It’s me who decides.”
- Who’s the boss, you or your kids?
Right after my husband, Duke and I, made the decision to uproot our family from Orange County, California, to Belize, Central America, I remember being asked the following question, almost daily: “So what do your kids think about your decision to move to Belize?”
At the time, I thought this was a stupid question. Now I realize why.
Below is an excerpt from a chapter in my book: Freeways to Flip-Flops: Our Year of Living Like the Swiss family Robinson.
I’d become obsessed with Belize.
I’d tell anyone who cared to listen–including complete strangers in supermarket lines or at the gym—about how we were uprooting our family to live in Belize. Sometimes I imagined a glimpse of envy on a stranger’s face. That’s when I shifted into salesperson mode, trying to push them into doing the same. Duke warned me, “Don’t tell everyone about Belize; we don’t want people flocking there.”
Some people thought we were crazy. Others were skeptical. “Yeah, sure,” they said. “Let’s see if you really go ahead with it.” The second group always asked, “So what do your kids think?” to which I snapped back, “Who makes the decisions in your family, you or your kids?” Many looked shocked, but my European accent helped. It allowed people to classify me as an alien, despite my U.S. citizenship.
There are many times in life when you are faced with tough choices, and you need to make a decision. As parents, we cannot always cave in to what are kids want; we have to decide what’s best for the entire family. We need to guide and lead, and my experience with French parents, is that they are more strict, and perhaps more “old-fashioned” when it comes to child-rearing.
I could go on about so many aspects that Druckerman covers in her article: “Why French Parents Are Superior.” For example: teaching your kids polite manners, family eating habits, and disciplining your children, because I’ve seen it done the French way and the American way.
Since I’ve lived in both France and the U.S., as well as the U.K., Denmark and Belize, I can pick and choose what’s right for my family. That’s what I love about travel, and the expat life, you get exposed to different ways of looking at the decisions you make in your life.
What about you? Who’s the boss, you or your kids?
Do you have a “My Gutsy Story”?