In France and Elsewhere, the Truth about Good Parenting Is Probably Somewhere in the Middle

By now I'm sure many of you have read the Wall Street Journal article about parenting in France and how different it is from parenting in the United States. The thesis of the article is that in France, the family revolves around the parent, while in the States, it revolves around the child(ren). The dynamic this creates (per this article) is that French children, because they are raised with more structure and discipline (used in the literal sense of the word, as in "to teach," not as in "punishment"), are more disciplined themselves. It's an interesting read, and I recommend you read it and form your own conclusions. The following is an account of mine. My first reaction to the article was, "Oh hey great! I'm totes gonna give that whirl! My kid'll obey everything that I say! And will be super disciplined as an adult! Life will be so much easier!" so I spent the better part of last week attempting to practice the Art of French Parenting. I had a vague, sloppily-formed notion of what I thought that might look like--something along the lines of saying "NO" a lot and really meaning it, enforcing various arbitrary orders like You Can't Play in the Spice Drawer Right Now Because I Said So, while also making E take some time to play on her own. Many times during the week I wondered whether I was doing it right, because I thought if I truly was doing it right, it would feel authentic and great while making my kid fall into line, right?