I would like to disclose before I lead this two-month discussion of Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, that I do not have children. However, I do have nephews. I have friends with children. I have worked with children for almost 14 years, and have friends and relatives who are in professions that require them to spend much time with children. I have considerable respect for people who do have children since bringing them up is an important and time-consuming job.
I also have never been to France, although I did once pass through by train from Madrid to Venice. I've read the standard books written by American and British ex-pats living in France, including Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence and its sequels, which inspired me to read Jean Giorno. I recently bought a copy of Vivian Swift's Le Road Trip http://www.amazon.com/Road-Trip-Travelers-Journal-France/dp/1608195325 which is inspiring me to visit France some day, although after only visiting England and revisting Italy.
Over the years,I have noticed a shift in child-rearing practices in NYC, and in America in general. Every year new books are published on raising children. I've seen an increased demand for the 1,2,3 Magic Books (http://www.parentmagic.com/ ) and in books on potty-training in one day. Homeschooling is on the rise as parents decide that they are unhappy with the education provided by their local schools; unable to change the system, they op-out entirely and homeschool alone and/or in collectives.
Pamela Druckerman decided to raise her three children (for now) in France. Her children are enrolled in the state-run day-care and preschool programs in France. By observing her neighbors, her friends, and the caregivers at her children's schools, Druckerman is able to see the differences in how French middle class parents raise their children and in how they are raised in American homes. "Bringing Up Bebe" is Druckerman's way of sharing with Americans some French child-rearing practices that work in France and with her French-born children.
For those of you who have not read the book since there is a large holds list for it, here are some useful links: