It must be really terrible to be a child in America. At least, there’s no shortage of criticism for those raising them. From Tiger Moms and the superior French to the “regressive” nature of modern American motherhood, U.S. parents can’t seem to get a break.
It all started with a little book by Yale Law School professor Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, detailing all the ways in which “Chinese mothers are superior.” Unlike us soft, lazy Americans, Chua wouldn’t dream of allowing her children such base activities as sleepovers, school plays, guitar-playing or the freedom to choose their desired extracurriculars.
If Chua exploited our Chinese inferiority complex, publishers are seizing on another: in a year we went from Tiger Moms to Camembert. A new book by expat Pamela Druckerman explains why French parents are better—at everything….including book titles. In America it’s (annoyingly) called Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, but across the pond it’s French Children Don’t Throw Food (still annoying).
Druckerman—in her book, the Wall Street Journal and on this morning’s Today show—says that French children eat their vegetables, don’t throw tantrums and give their mommies space. French babies are also better at sleeping through the night. This, of course, in addition to French women being more stylish, shedding baby weight like water and never getting fat. (If you’re wondering from the byline: Yes, I am descended from the French but am American-born, so feel quite capable of both getting fat and breeding unruly children.)
If you’re starting to feel badly, and you’re a woman—not uncommon–there’s more. A forthcoming book and current European bestseller, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women by Elisabeth Badinter (a Frenchie)—provides a “scathing indictment” of “liberal motherhood,” outlined as “attachment parenting, co-sleeping, babywearing, and especially breast-feeding.”
Purportedly, this shift toward natural parenting, I’m looking at you Jessica Alba, is the most regressive force in modern culture since the 1950s. It’s produced overwhelmed, guilt-laden mothers who are tethered to their homes, pressured to feel empathy 24/7 and may contribute to declining birthrates in the West. Oh yeah, the shift is also made in America (unlike most of our synthetic diapers).
So what should we Americans take away from our distant neighbors? In a sentence: Stop being such lazy or alternatively caring parents. P.S. You’re terrible. And fat.