Mummy stuff

French Children Don’t Throw Food

Strolling down the high street in La Petite Paris (pre-invasion of French bankers also known as Marylebone), I found myself magically drawn to the window display of Daunt Books. From red and white gingham backgrounds, it shouted at me in black letters:

‘French Children Don’t Throw Food’

Now, that’s a statement. We know already that French Women Don’t Get Fat, that they are better in bed and that they manage to cook up a feast even after a full day of work. But better at child rearing?

I bought the book and inhaled it within a few sessions. The author, Pamela Druckerman, is an American who is married to a Brit in Paris. When she had her first daughter and little later twin boys, she came to realise that French mothers do a lot of things differently. And sometimes better. So she set out to discover why French children patiently wait for their food, sagely say bonjour and au revoir even to strangers and why six-week-old babies that sleep through the night are the norm, not the exception.

Druckerman is observing la vie en français with a lot of witty humour and manages to wrap up her research back-upped findings in chatty prose. It’s an easy read with a good handful of parenting ideas – not so much a manual with a strict schedule to follow. It is ripe with stereotypes… the French, the British, the Americans… But sympathetically, she doesn’t stop short at her own pigeonhole, scrutinising what she has been given on her way by her own mother.

I didn’t share her view on the lacking of smacking and shouting in the French education, but maybe things are done differently in Paris. Either that, or the cardboard walls of our vacation residence in the South of France offer me an insight into French parenting that has so far been withheld from Druckerman.

But apart from that, a really uplifting and reassuring read for all those parents that don’t accept broccoli stained wallpapers and toy-flooded living rooms.

French Children Don’t Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman is available on Amazon for about £8.


  1. I have heard of this book and often thought about buying it, but wasn’t sure if it would be my cup of tea as I thought it was more of a bashing of other nations (particularly Brits) on our child rearing.

    However, reading this….I *may* give it a go

  2. Thats it you’ve convinced me, I have to read this book everyone is talking about. Being French that’s also a duty 🙂

  3. French women are such over achievers… I love Daunt books… especially the Marylebone one… I think I might love it best of all book shops

  4. It’s had mixed reviews, but mainly because it was supposed to have started yet another “mum war”, yawn.
    A few years ago I was talking with a small group of mothers. The topic got round to when one child tries to imply that she/he hasn’t been treated as well as a sibling – you know “Mu-u-u-u-um, why does she always get the biggest piece of pie?” etc.

    I said “I’m always tempted to say “Because we love her a lot more than you”, – the American mothers were visibly nervous, hoping that I wasn’t serious.
    And the French mum in the group piped up “We do”.

  5. Helen says

    I’ve started reading this book and I do take some things with a pinch of salt (my 12 week old still isn’t sleeping through the night but hey ho!) but it is a very enjoyable book with good tips and ideas without the pushy tone of some other parenting tomes.

  6. Kelleyn says

    Germans think there children are better too. The interesting this is that somehow French children are not nice in school . I have a friend who lived in Paris with ther American children and her children had such a hard time because the French children were so rough. Swear words and so on. Though maybe they were just in the wrong school. I hate to generalize.

  7. I loved this book and thought there was a lot of sensible advice to be found within it! I was pleased to see that I hold a lot of beliefs that Pamela does, i.e. valuing a child’s independence, teaching patience etc. Will definitely re-read when number 2 comes along and hopes this means he will sleep through the night by 6 weeks 😉 x

  8. I thought this was a book about getting children to eat, then realised it was (another…) parenting tome. I wouldn’t have said the French children I’ve met are any better behaved than British ones, though I would say they eat a more varied diet.

  9. I’ve seen this and nearly purchased it on amazon before half term but wasn’t sure i wanted to be told AGAIN that french women not only have perkier boobs but also have perkier kids- i might see if i can get my hands on it at the library then if it’s worth a read. I’m just about to read 50 shades of grey after all the hype it’s been getting, have you read that?

  10. I’ve heard a lot about this book, but probably saw too much of the technique in Brussels to want to try it myself – for well-behaved, it’s hard not to read ‘repressed’. I was glad to get back to the UK and see 3-year-olds wearing Spiderman costumes and tutus with wellies in the supermarkets – this would NEVER happen in Belgium and I bet not in France either. I think I just prefer eccentricity to conformity, even though it’s inconvenient in children x

  11. I miss that old-style parenting (I am an afficianado of sleep training etc.) In California its free expression and the child is always right, exhausting

  12. On my list to read for sure. My husband is part French so I have a duty to read it and asap x

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