These French Parenting Rules Will Teach Your Kids Manners

The French have a certain set of “food rules” they follow to get their kids to eat everything from beets and broccoli to mussels and mackerel. But those aren’t the only guidelines they adhere to when it comes to raising polite, well-rounded Minis.

Pamela Druckerman’s hit book Bringing Up Bebe details how she moved to Paris with her three children, observed the locals and picked up a few parenting pointers. While in the City of Light, Druckerman found that French parents have a few key mottos quite different from those of American parents.

You can teach your child how to wait

French parents teach their children to wait from a very early age. In fact, it’s called Le Pause and it’s one of the reasons French babies sleep through the night.

“Their parents don’t pick them up the second they start crying, allowing the babies to learn how to fall back asleep,” Druckerman writes. Le Pause is also a major reason French children will wait patiently at a restaurant and directly translates to the essential French food rule— no snacking!

It is possible to have a life, with kids

This is one aspect of parenting many struggle with as the act of raising children can become all-consuming. But just because you’re now a mom, or dad, that doesn’t mean your grown-up life needs to go out the window.

“The French assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and there is no need to feel guilty about this,” Druckerman explains. “‘For me, the evenings are for the parents,’ one Parisian mother told me. ‘My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time.”

French mothers stick to the philosophy that if your whole life is centered around your child, it’s not good for you and it’s not good for them. One part (being a parent, worker, spouse) should not overwhelm the rest.

Kids should spend time playing by themselves

Think about it— you need alone time, and well, so do your kids. Druckerman explains that French parents do indeed want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time.

“The most important thing is that he learns to be happy by himself,’ [one French mother] said of her son.” Children need to learn to be alone and cope with frustration as a basic life skill or else you cannot truly learn to be happy.

Believe yourself when you tell your child no

Druckerman shares that the authority aspect of French parenting is perhaps one of the most impressive, yet the toughest to master.

“When [a French toddler] tried to interrupt our conversation, [her mother] said, ‘Just wait two minutes, my little one. I’m in the middle of talking,'” Druckerman recalls.

“It was both very polite and very firm. I was struck by both how sweetly [the mother] said it and by how certain she seemed that [the toddler] would obey her. I gradually felt my “now” coming from a more convincing place. They weren’t louder, but they were more self-assured.”

For more on the French ways of parenting, you can purchase the eye-opening Bringing Up Bebe here

Would you stick by these French parenting rules? Do you follow similar rules? 

You’ll also want to read these 3 Parenting Rules All Danish Parents Live By or save these 40 Unique French Baby Names You’ll Love.

Opening Image: Sam Elsom for Captain and the Gypsy Kid