Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Gem of a Book

One day at the library, as I was discharging some books, I came across a title that caught my eye.

Bringing Up, Bébé by Pamela Druckerman.

Even if you don't have any more babies to bring up, read this book. Since the book is written by an American, it's a fascinating look at motherhood and parenting and general life skills in the French culture and how these differ from the American way of parenting.

On eating:

It's hard for me to imagine a world in which moms don't walk around with baggies of Goldfish and Cheerios in their purses to patch over the inevitable moments of angst. Jennifer, a mother and a reporter for the New York Times, complains that every activity her daughter attends, no matter how brief or what time of day, now includes snacks. "Apparently we have collectively decided as a culture that it is impossible for children to take part in any activity without simultaneously shoving something into their pie holes," she writes.

In France the goûter is the official, and only, snack time. It's usually at about four thirty PM, when kids get out of school. It has the same fixed status as other mealtimes and is universally observed for kids. The goûter helps explain why those French kids I saw at the restaurant were eating so well. They were actually hungry, because they hadn't been snacking all day.

Even the goûter isn't a free-for-all. "The great thing is that there was cake to eat," recalls Clotilde Dusoulier, a French food writer. "But the flip side of the coin was that my mom would say, 'that's enough.' It was also teaching kids restraint."

Restraint is a good thing to learn. I'm sure I wouldn't find French children going through potluck meals and taking five, six, seven desserts on one plate. We've got to change the way we view food. And how we use it, either as a pacifier or for comfort.

Because at some point, it stops comforting and starts damaging and a nation has an obesity problem.


There's so many good things in this book that I'll highlight some more over the next few days.


  1. Her point about actually being hungry at mealtime because of no snacking is so true! And, not just for kids - I experienced it myself the other day. We're so used to grazing that we're hardly aware of what we're doing.

  2. And how much easier it is to teach them NOT to graze when they're younger! It's hard to stop habits once they're formed, non?