Wednesday, July 18, 2012

California has discovered parenting French-style

I was stunned to read this article in last week's New York magazine. The article is about a California-based program called Resources for Infant Educarers (REI). The author of the article attended a Manhattan class, and spent her time learning not to be a helicopter parent.

Intrigued, I checked out the REI website. The founder, Magda Gerber, received a degree in linguistics at the Sorbonne before studying with Hungarian pediatrition Emmi Pikler. Her philosophy of child-rearing, which includes free play, observing the child, treating the child like a rational being, and allowing the child freedom to play and learn sounds much like that of Francoise Dalto. She develped her ideas with the help of a neurologist partner, Tom Forrest, who presumably served as an advisor about the infant brain.

Gerber's take on discipline quoted in the New York article sounds very French:

"The RIE approach to discipline is simple: Set reasonable, consistent rules and stick to them even if they’re unpopular with those expected to abide by them. “It is not the best thing to try to keep your children happy all the time,” writes Gerber. “That is not the way life is.”

Presumably this means that you should also teach your children to cope with frustration, boredom, and waiting. It will be interesting to see if Druckerman's book on French child-rearing and classes on Gerber's child-rearing methods will have a noticeable impact on the children of NYC.

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