After my post about not wanting to be Just a Mom, Donna suggested I read Bringing up Bébé. It’s about an American mom who discovers the secrets of French parenting. I’m only a few chapters in, and already, I know I needed this book. I have been the classic American hover parent. I cave in to my child’s every demand and don’t set rules to define boundaries for him. The fact is, children need those boundaries.
My parents did something right in raising us four kids. We were the most respectful, polite, and obedient children people had ever seen. And you know why? Our parents gave us chores and rules and curfew and restrictions. We needed it. We didn’t fall into heaps on the floor when we heard “no.” We didn’t have tantrums at the store. Because if we did, we knew mom would send us to the car. She wouldn’t break down and buy us whatever we were screaming over.
The French have a term which translated into English means “child king” where the child runs the parent. Brandon is a child king. Until today. I started working on our first lesson – patience. Patience isn’t something you either inherently have or don’t have, it’s learned, this book explains. If the second he asks something of me I do it, he learns not to wait.
So today, when he asked for something, I told him to wait three minutes until we got to the next store. And he did. It was as easy as explaining to him that he would get what he was asking for, but not in this moment. For three minutes, he distracted himself. He counted to ten, he sang his ABCs. And when we got to the next store, I gave him what he had asked for as promised, without him so much as having to ask for it again.
Perhaps the reason only children are stereotyped (and for a valid reason, I might add) as needy and spoiled is because they never have to learn to wait because they never have to share their parents. Brandon has gradually learned waiting over these past seven weeks merely because Holden is here and the supply isn’t there to fill his demand. I have told him to wait many times so he knows what it means now which is probably why today’s experiment had the perfect outcome.
You can teach younger children to wait, too. The French do what this book calls “the Pause” when an infant is crying. They don’t immediately rush over, but they don’t let them cry all day, either. The pause only lasts a few minutes, and certainly never more than ten before you respond to the infant. I don’t pause when Holden starts whimpering, which explains many ounces of wasted formula. I will assume he’s hungry when he merely is trying to fall back asleep. Apparently French babies usually sleep through the night between two and four months. That will be Holden. Check back in two months.
There is a ton of other great stuff in the book, too. If you’re a parent that wants to see another perspective on parenting, pick up this book. I’m not saying it’s the gospel on parenting or anything, but reading always gives me another perspective, which I need to prevent me from becoming the most narrow-minded person in the world. Some of it will stick, or maybe none of it will, but either way you’re better off for knowing another point of view. Just one day into the book, I already feel more in control of my child. Child King, my ass. There’s only room for one queen in this castle.