Parisian Living

Parenting Like a Parisian: Take the Best, Leave the Rest

by Paige Bradley Frost
Written By

Paige Bradley Frost

After nearly a decade in Paris, Paige Bradley Frost swapped the Banks of the Seine for the beaches of San Diego, California where she serves as Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, Women's Empowerment International. Still, her heart remains with the French capital where she hopes to one day return. View Paige Bradley Frost's Website

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14 comments on “Parenting Like a Parisian: Take the Best, Leave the Rest

Thank you for your article about children in Paris. The times I have traveled have been my own little oasis away from the States sans Hubby and children. But lately I have been considering bringing my son. He is autistic (high functioning) and was worried that he wouldn’t have anything outside of his electronics to keep him engaged. Your article gave me the support in the possibility in bringing him with me on a trip. Oh how I enjoy Paris without the pressure of domestic life! I may not give up my oasis!(lol)

Thanks for the link, Paige. Yours is a great response to the ideas put forth in Zuckerman’s book. You’ve obviously lived here long enough to be able to accurately observe the differences in French vs US culture and not just paint us all into little boxes that are overly-stereotypical, one-dimensional and largely untrue! I could regal you with stories from my kids school but sounds like you’ve seen much of the same…. 😛

Great discussion! If you’re interested, I had a lot more to say about this topic (and *that* book) on Huffington Post last year:

Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

Great article!!! Makes me want to move to Paris….sigh!

I am happy to say I adhere to many of these French parenting guidelines…but had not heard of the negative aspects mentioned at the start…that surprises me!

It’s funny, I have only ever lived in Paris since having children but here I have definitely heard a lot of horror stories of children being snatched from parks and supermarkets and assaults in public swimming pools etc. I think it’s great that parents want to try and give their children some normalcy and freedom growing up but I don’t think I will ever be that confident about it in Paris. It’s my biggest fear and sadness about living in a big city where bad things happen. I do think we can learn something from them about eliminating mother guilt though, I’m all for that!

Ever since “that” book was published commending French parents as being perfect parents and American parents as crap, I have felt compelled to read articles such as yours to understand how others perceive the differences between our two cultures.

I have lived in Paris for 10 years and am a working mom of 2. You have hit the nail on the head regarding the differences in French vs US parenting – great article, nice observations.

If I can add my two cents, I firmly do not believe French children are in any way better behaved, more prefectly raised, etc., etc. than US ones. Since opening my cupcake shop in Paris last year, I cannot even begin to describe to you the appaling behavior I have witnessed by French customers who come in with their children – they do not bat an eyelash when their kids start acting up, even when there’s often risk of damage to my property. Last weekend, a mom luaghed it when a child invited to a cupcake party pocketed several pot of edible glitter I use to decorate my cupcakes.

Bottomline, kids will be kids and a little rough-housing doesn’t scare me off. What does bug me is when people start telling me I am an inferior parent because I am not raising my kids the “French’ way. Let me decide what values, behaviors, attitudes, etc I instill my kids!

Whether Paris actually is safer or just feels that way, I do not know. (And of course it would depend on whether we’re talking about a big US city or small town, middle America). I do believe that the American 24/7 media coverage of kidnappings, shootings and scary events makes people feel a lot less safe and we tend to handle our kids accordingly. But in France, even when parents are physically present, there’s generally less hovering, hand-wringing and anxiety around parenting. And as I said in the blog, the social safety net here helps. A lot.

Its lovely that the French can feel comfortable letting their children be more independent and put family time first…it’s just not possible everywhere…xv

LOVE the photos and the content of this post. It’s something I see every day and marvel at here.
Merci Carolg

Fantastic! Love it! This is so inspiring to me. I love the self-respect that one gleams from French parenting – both for the child AND the parent.

In the US almost weekly there are stories in the newspapers about children kidnapped from school bus stops, in front of their homes etc by pedophiles. Kids disappear from parks with their parents not too far away. Are you saying these horrors don’t happen so often in France that parents feel comfortable with their laissez-faire attitude? French parents don’t worry about these things? What you describe in France is what my childhood was like but now that’s not the world my grandchildren live in. Curious about this aspect of French parenting

lets hear it for the Family + leave what you can’t use but take the rest. Yeah!

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