To deal with the impending big change in life arriving in less than two months, my sister-in-law gave me a fantastic book. (It’s also available in our libraries; hurray!) Parents-to-be will attest to experiencing that strange mix of feelings, ranging from excitement to dread to anxiety and so on.
You might probably have heard about this book when it first came out in 2012 with its catchy (read: provocative) title. (What, you mean only French children don’t throw food?) But like me, you probably wouldn’t have read it anyway if you weren’t (1) a parent at that point in time; or (2) interested in being a parent at that point in time.
Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist, moved to Paris with her British husband, has a child, and observed how much more well-behaved French children are as compared to her own daughter growing up. Comparing her own parenting experience, she ponders how French babies seem to sleep through the night, why French children obediently eat whatever food is offered to them, and how French mothers manage a nice chat with one another while their children play. She interviews various French parents, including friends, neighbours and a paediatrician, to find out their secret to parenting.
I have never been to France (or any other European country, for that matter), so it is a little difficult to know how much better behaved French children are compared to Singaporean kiddos. Nevertheless, the essential parenting ideas contained in this book is revolutionary to this parent-to-be. For example, when a newborn cries, my natural instinct would be to immediately try and pacify the baby. However, after observing how the French do it, the author advocates – at least for the first two months – pausing for a bit and observing the baby to see if it can soothe itself back to sleep. If the baby is genuinely in distress and continues crying, that’s when you step in to comfort him. This sleep training apparently results in most babies being able to sleep through the night within two to six months of age, whereas immediate parental help might result in a fussy baby who has difficulty sleeping through the night up till four years of age. I don’t know about you but if that works I’d definitely follow that piece of advice to a T; I aim to reclaim my natural sleeping habits sooner not later!
So, for new parents and parents-to-be, if you haven’t read this book yet, pick it up for good parenting tips presented in a humourous way and let your apprehensions turn into feelings of hope and of optimism. In the meantime, let me get back to highlighting and bookmarking those essential tips. (Don’t do it on your library copy, though.) I might just be flipping back to those crucial pages in the dead of night in a few weeks’ time.