Please don't be alarmed - I have nothing against French people (I'm talking about France-French here, not les Quebecois).
What I'm really tired of is people telling me that "the French do it best." Here's just a sampling of some books I've come across in the past few years:
French Women Don't Get Fat
Bringing Up Bebe: One Woman Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
French Kids Eat Everything
The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women
Everywhere I go, I'm hearing interviews and commentary from authors and blog writers that somehow, French women know best - they know how to dress better, eat better, lose weight faster, and even have better sex. Somehow, French kids are better behaved, are not picky eaters, and don't throw tantrums.
French women seem to be the authority on everything to do with life and parenting these days, and it's really starting to piss me off.
It's like the "African babies don't cry" myth. Or the "rice paddy birth."
Somewhere along the lines, North Americans have decided that we just don't do anything right. Apparently, millions of years of evolution have done nothing to help us learn how to birth babies and raise children. And we have to turn to other cultures to get a healthy dose of judgment and guilt.
Look, I have nothing wrong with getting advice from others. I think it's a great idea to do some personal exploration, and as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it "cherry pick" what works for you. I've read many parenting books, and always seem to find one or two helpful pieces of advice that I can put into practice (some with success, and some with dismal failures!)
But I have a real problem with the fact that mothers in Canada and the US seem to believe we are inherently flawed. I have a problem with the fact that mothers are ignoring their own instincts (and perhaps ignoring what their children are telling them), in order to follow some shoddy advice from authors who are basically just writing about their own opinions. All mothers are doing the very best they can, and although we certainly have cultural norms that we follow, I find it hard to believe that we can peg entire societies as being "better" than others at parenting.
These books are NOT fact, and they're NOT real life. Sure, maybe some French women do eat well, and maybe some French women do raise well-behaved children. But I'm certain this does not pertain to every person in the country. And if I wanted to start claiming something in defense of our culture, I'm sure I could write a book on things that I believe are problematic in French society.
But instead of mud slinging, I think I'll turn it over to you. Have you read these books? Do you buy into the belief that the French (or other cultures) do it better than we do?