Parisian Parenting

A Professor's Perspective on Current Events

Professor Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D.
By Professor Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D.

It’s been found that the “French Style” of parenting takes a lot of pressure off parents and still provides a wonderful childhood for the kids. Professor Eileen Kennedy-Moore discusses the cross-cultural lessons we can learn.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone had figured it all out? Unfortunately–or maybe fortunately–when it comes to parenting, there’s no one right answer.

Each parent-child relationship is unique. If you have more than one child, I’m sure you’ve seen this: What works with one kid doesn’t necessarily work with another kid. The flipside is also true: What feels comfortable and do-able for one parent doesn’t necessarily fit another parent.

Happy kid looking through hole in blue slime with girl in the backgroundI certainly don’t believe that any one culture has “The Answer” when it comes to parenting.  On the other hand, learning about common practices in other cultures can be useful. It may help us refine how we do things or open our eyes to revising our assumptions about how things should or must be done.

This article is part of our Professor’s Perspective series—a place for experts to share their views and opinions on current events.

There have been a lot of changes in how Americans parents view the role of parenting. When my grandmother was raising her children, she thought she was doing a good job if the kids were clean. My mother could pat herself on the back if her kids were fairly obedient. Nowadays, parents feel tremendous pressure to support their children’s academic and athletic and musical and social and religious and artistic, etc. development. They worry that they’re not doing enough for their kids, and the mountain of perfect parenting photos on social media can contribute to feelings of inadequacy.

Paris, France (Le musée du Louvre)

I think parenting is fundamentally about teaching our children how to be in a relationship. We need to try to see the world through our children’s eyes, even if we don’t go along with what they want. We need to use our adult judgment and perspective to step in and set limits on what our kids do, to put a stop to actions that are unkind. We need to try to turn towards our children more often than away and to have faith in our children’s ability to grow and learn. The details of what these look like will be different for each parent-child relationship, and none of us will “get it right” all the time. Relationships are messy and sometimes difficult. But perhaps the most important things we can teach our children is that love means trying again.

For more with Professor Kennedy-Moore, check out Raising Emotionally Healthy Kids Wondrium!