Monday Morning Musings on Tuesday - Pamela Druckerman, one of the most influential people in the world?

Peacock crossing. Even without their parents around, French children are generally well-behaved.

Sitting on the bus and feeling rather depressed by man's inhumanity to man after a guided tour on the history of Jews in France during World War II at the Shoah Memorial, I glanced up to see a trendy Parisian father in a New York Yankees baseball cap accompanied by two overly precious daughters in frothy, pink tutus stride down the aisle. As all of the seats were taken and protocol demands that older people abandon their seats for children under the age of four, the woman next to me politely offered her place to the fashionable father. Without a word of thanks, he picked up the youngest ballerina and attempted to plant her in the seat next to me. Letting out a blood curdling scream, the little minx went rigid and started howling, "pas à côté de la dame, pas à côté de la dame!" ("not next to the woman, not next to the woman!"). Still thinking about the staggering numbers of French Jews who were annihilated in Nazi concentration camps, it took me a couple of seconds to switch gears and realize that the little girl was referring to me and that all of the other passengers were regarding me with a great deal of suspicion. Was there a child molester or deranged serial killer in their midst? As Miss Pampered Princess continued to kick her feet in my direction and shriek like a banshee, it occurred to me that she must not have read Pamela Druckerman's book, Bringing Up Bébé, in which the author claims that French children don't throw tantrums. If she had, I'm sure that she would have settled into the seat without a fuss and that my ears wouldn't still be ringing from the onslaught of her screams.

While I realize that Ms. Druckerman didn't intend to imply that all French children are perfectly behaved all of the time, what confounds me is that she has been nominated as one of the most influential people of the year by Time magazine. Miss Pampered Princess and her fashionable father must not be subscribers! The results will be revealed Tuesday, April 17.

It's interesting to see that Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's extreme-right National Front Party, and Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, are also on Time's most influential list. Vive la France!

Edit: Poll results are as follows: Sarkozy - 3,465 yes (most influential), versus 6,515 no; Le Pen -  3,456 yes, versus 4,827 no; Druckerman - 3,118 yes, versus 6,580 no; Hollande 2,322 yes, versus 3,603 no.

Please click here to read the thought provoking NYT op-ed, The Non-Joie of Parenting, by Jennifer Conlin about why it's not so easy to transfer the French method of parenting to the United States. As a former expat who has lived in France, England and Belgium, Conlin raises some excellent points.

Comments

  1. Ughhh, this makes me sick to my stomach reading that woman was nominated to the list of most influential people of the year. I am so tired of hearing her name, her book and her silly philosophy - she just infuriates me!

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    1. Judging by the numbers of people who voted "yes" for Druckerman (3,118) versus those who voted "no" (6,580), I would say that a lot of people feel the same as you. On the upside, she certainly does have people talking about parenting.

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  2. No no no--you can't do that--make us wait a week to see the conclusion of a story. What's going on here? And over the weekend promising us the solution to your riddle and then not giving it to us. (It better be there today. Curious minds want to know, before they forget.)

    Seriously though, having never been a parent (with no plans to be one now) I wonder if the idea of 'consequences' has a place anymore in raising children--no child, no one seems to realize that actions have consequences, particularly bad actions. I'm pleased that my sister in Cincinnati has instilled that in her children--I marvel at their good behavior, even when it's pouty, disappointed or wrong. Now to look at the link.

    And you better get the end of the story up, or there will be consequences.

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    1. Sorry, Joseph! My brain has been here, there and everywhere lately - I had about three different ideas for a blog post this morning and went with this one after a good friend sent me the link for Jennifer Conlin's NYT op-ed. You're right, I shouldn't promise something on Saturday and not deliver on Monday. But in my defense, Monday was a holiday in France so I'm technically not late yet! ;) I'll get right on it!

      Kudos to your sister for doing such a good job as a parent. I think that overlooking all of the parents who are doing it "right" in the USA is what bothers me about the hype that Druckerman's book is getting. Plus, it has me observing French children and their parents with a much more critical eye.

      And now let's see if I can get my mind to focus on horses and Napoleon!

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  3. I don't know about anyone else but I'm just going to come out and say that I think it's ridiculous how this woman was voted influential. There must be a community of mothers who are eating up her "theory".

    As for fashionable father, shame on him for not thanking you and letting his little tutu princess talk like that. I'm sorry you had to deal with that. She will be nothing but a teenage nightmare in years to come. Good luck to him.

    And thank you so much for your recent comment and well wishes on my blog. It meant a lot to me....truly. I'll keep you posted on what's going on.

    ...and don't worry MK, I'll always want to sit next to you! : )

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    1. Thanks, Ella! I'm relieved to know that you wouldn't scream and kick your feet to avoid sitting next to me. :) Usually kids like me...but not little princess. I was also disappointed that neither the father nor the mother said anything to her. They just hauled her away when she started screaming. I guess that they were having a bad day. It happens. But that's why I don't like about promoting the idea that French kids don't ever have tantrums. They do. And I can just see the frustrated American mom trying to figure out what she's doing "wrong" after reading Ms. Druckerman's book.

      All of this is just a long winded way of saying that I agree with you and don't think that she should have made the most influential list. But then I looked at the other people and wasn't so surprised because Ashton Kutcher is also on the list!

      Thanks for keeping us posted. You're in my thoughts.

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  4. I need to stop reading these parenting gurus. Jennifer Conlin's op-ed made me feel ill too. Parents can draw the line if they want to. If you are spending all your time shuttling your children to an endless (and absolutely absurd) number of double booked activities, don't blame American society. Blame yourself. We live in the city and my children walk and take the bus. I do drive them some places but I don't let them over commit. They make choices and we all stay sane.

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    1. Sorry - it sounds as if this blog post should have come with a warning! Kudos for maintaining a sane schedule in the States and not allowing your kids to over commit. I have to admit that I found it hard to do when we moved there after years of living abroad. Everyone seems to feel that their children need to do as many activities as possible to make them competitive for college.

      One of the things that we really missed when we moved to the States was good public transportation and other parents who are willing to let kids figure things out on their own. Sadly enough, I think that we've become a generation of helicopter parents. It seems as if you have a good balance.

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  5. Thank you for the link to the article. I am a mother of three who is currently in Paris for the month of April (alone). Over my glass of wine the other night I was trying to figure out how to blend this wonderful Parisian life with my life back in California when I return to my family. That article just about summed everything up in a nutshell. So so true what was written.....

    Jamila

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    1. One thing that you'll be able to duplicate in CA is having a glass of wine in the evening, although with three children at home you probably won't have as much time for reflection as you do in Paris! What struck a chord with me while reading Conlin's article is that I found it hard to buck the system when I moved back to the States. And this was after I had been parenting abroad for many years. For example, I started keeping Coke at home (something which I never did before) in the USA because my son's friends weren't used to drinking anything else. In Switzerland, our kids' friends always asked for juice, water or milk, not soft drinks.

      Enjoy your time in Paris - it's a wonderful place for contemplation. Let's just hope that the weather improves while you're here!

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    2. Mary Kay,

      I could not agree with you more. Although since I live in CA. it is not coke but vegan everything. At least with my crowd! If you don't have vegan cookies, veggie burgers etc you can find yourself on the outside of that particular circle. Parenting! What can I say? I actually do know what to say but I will not take up your time in writing it.

      Thank you for your kind words about my trip. I am having fun! Your blog has been very helpful. The weather is getting better and I found a nice place to do some Yoga. Have a great weekend and thanks again for the discussion.

      Jamila

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    3. What? You don't serve vegan everything in your house?! ;)

      Glad to hear that you're having fun in Paris and that you've found a good yoga class!

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  6. You know my thoughts :) The picture you have is hilarious. I love it. And thanks for the Op-ed article. I found it interesting but agree w/ Anne. That said, I'm not a parent yet... I can only hope I'm not shuttling them around all day.

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    1. As Anne says, it's all about drawing lines and knowing your limits. I'm sure that you'll be a fantastic mom!

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