When the book Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Drucker first came out, I became aware of it through the vitriol that poured through popular online media about it. Many comments were particularly dismissive of it, due to the idea of it attacking the American way of life, and who-is-this-Drucker-woman-to-speak-for-all-American-moms?
Due to this, I had no intention of reading it. My husband expresses no interest in it. But curiosity (and fear) overcame me, and I wanted to know what she meant about the poised Parisienne mother.
As it turns out, I love it. I have always believed that children are very capable, rise to expectations, and should make life more enjoyable rather than difficult to parents. Based on my (albeit limited) experience growing up with my brother, who is 6 years my junior, I believe children have more respect for you when you do not strive to serve them. Based on my own experience as a child, I believe that children respect clear and firm boundaries, and that they learn best when allowed to explore and make mistakes on their own.
However, not having grown up in that environment precisely (sorry mom!), I have no idea how to create that sort of environment. How can I be stern when I’ve never consistently been in the company of an adult who doles out justice (to my mind) justly? How can I be an adult while at the same time trying to be my son’s friend?
In her book, Druckerman states clearly that her experiences are not representative of all American parents, or French parents. She makes good effort to research and interview parents, child care providers and academics, which helps make the narrative more credible rather than purely opinion based (which this blog post is, because I’m lazy and am not going to be paid for writing it).
Can some of what she spout be exaggerations that fall far short of a fair study of the issue? Of course! As with most mothers in the modern age, she has less than a handful of long-term case studies at hand (her 3 children). And if her book was meant to be a treatise worthy of the political correctness and perhaps academic rigor that her critics seem to find lacking in her, it wouldn’t have been as popular or accessible as it is now. At least she is willing to (frequently) use herself as the example of failed techniques to discipline (educate) her children, and give us as full a view as possible of the alternatives.
As with breastfeeding v.s. formula, it becomes an emotional issue when you tell people that “The hours and hours you spent doing that for your kid? Well, it may not have been as good for her as you thought.” So I say, buckle down and change tack. I have yet the opportunity to mend my ways and (hopefully) prevent bratdom.