Many people notice that kids in France are well behaved, brainy, and active. They rarely get naughty and fussy, they eat what they are served, and they politely greet the neighbors.
In the United States, most of us can only dream of having such well-behaved children, and it’s hard to take a trip to Walmart without seeing a kid throwing a noisy tantrum.
So why aren’t French kids that way? Well, it’s probably because they are, on the whole, happier. Here are some of the cultural differences between us and the French that might go some way to explaining that.
1. Baby’s First Year
Young mothers in France return to work less than 10 weeks after giving birth. If they stay at home longer, it might require large financial expense. According to the law, a mother can take care of a child for more than 10 weeks and have secure employment.
However, in this case, she should give up her salary in favor of social allowance. By the end of maternity leave, the child is taken to a nursery. While this might not sound ideal, it means that, from a young age, the child is surrounded by new people, helping him adapt quicker and become more independent in life.
2. French kids sleep in their own beds
French kids are taught to sleep in their own beds, no matter how little they still are. If a child wakes up during the night and starts crying, the mother usually waits for a few seconds to make sure her presence is really necessary. Night after night, a child gets used to sleeping alone, and will become able and independent more quickly.
3. Freedom of action
French parents give their kids as much freedom as he or she can handle. It’s very rare that you see a parent having fun on the playground with a kid. This is because they don’t interfere in play or even conflicts between kids, letting them take care of the situation themselves.
A good tip for parents is to set a line between innocent pranks and really bad behavior. The bad behavior should be punished so that your child knows the difference.
4. Grandparents are important
Grandparents play a supporting role in raising children. Family gatherings usually happen on weekends or holidays. You can see elderly people drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in a restaurant more often than taking constant care of their grandchildren – they don’t often babysit.
5. They eat like adults
Food is one of the most essential parts of French life, and a lunch break can last for 2 hours. French people express a strong opinion that it’s very important to gather together for a meal at least once a day.
Children and adults eat the same food because there’s no such thing as “kid’s food” in France. After all, Paris is the gourmet capital of the world! Parents don’t make their children eat what they don’t like, but they would insist on at least tasting the food.
6. Good manners are drilled into them
Good manners go a long way in life, and French kids are taught this from a very early age. They greet their guests and neighbors, they stay calm in lines, and they give up their seat to an older person on the bus.
From a very young age, they learn 4 important polite phrases: “thank you,“ ”good day,“ “you are welcome,” and ”goodbye.” Or, as they would say, “merci”, “bonjour”, “de rien” and “au revoir”.
7. A difference in expectations
In France, it is very common that children still can’t read at the age of 4 or 5, and parents are surprisingly cool with that. This is because they see early childhood as a wonderful time when their kids should learn to dream, explore the world, and learn how to be polite and responsible. And by the time they’re 6 years old, they learn how to read and count, in time for school.
8. Sundays are family days
Even though France is a secular state, they really cherish the day of rest.
Sunday is the best time to go on a picnic in the park, have a BBQ, or go for a bicycle ride. The French are very conscious of Sunday’s activities, and prepare for them in advance.
9. Kids get pocket money
During a shopping trip, kids usually stay calm and don’t make a big fuss about a parent’s refusal to buy candy in a shiny wrapper. They start to receive pocket money at the age of 7 and are allowed to spend it as they want. The monthly amount of pocket money usually equals the child’s age.
So there you have it, folks. While some of these parenting policies might seem a little cold, it’s all about tough love, and giving your kids the best possible chance in life.
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