• Bringing Up Bébé

  • One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
  • By: Pamela Druckerman
  • Narrated by: Abby Craden
  • Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (5,921 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The secret behind France's astonishingly well-behaved children is here.

When American journalist Pamela Druckerman has a baby in Paris, she doesn't aspire to become a "French parent". French parenting isn't a known thing, like French fashion or French cheese. Even French parents themselves insist they aren't doing anything special.

Yet the French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play.

Motherhood itself is a whole different experience in France. There's no role model, as there is in America, for the harried new mom with no life of her own. French mothers assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children and that there's no need to feel guilty about this. They have an easy, calm authority with their kids that Druckerman can only envy.

Of course, French parenting wouldn't be worth talking about if it produced robotic, joyless children. In fact, French kids are just as boisterous, curious, and creative as Americans. They're just far better behaved and more in command of themselves. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are - by design - toddling around and discovering the world at their own pace.

With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, sets out to learn the secrets to raising a society of good little sleepers, gourmet eaters, and reasonably relaxed parents. She discovers that French parents are extremely strict about some things and strikingly permissive about others. And she realizes that to be a different kind of parent, you don't just need a different parenting philosophy. You need a very different view of what a child actually is.

While finding her own firm non, Druckerman discovers that children - including her own - are capable of feats she'd never imagined.

©2012 Pamela Druckerman (P)2012 Random House

Featured Article: 10 Best Parenting Audiobooks


As many parents know all too well, there’s no official guide on how to raise your child. From all the ways you can show love and affection to the more difficult acts of helping them grow through discipline, each kid—and each family—is unique in what they need. A one-size-fits all approach doesn’t exist, which is why finding the advice and resources that best speak to you are so important. With our list of 10 best parenting audiobooks, we’ve pooled together the top resources on parenting for all different styles and families, and parents looking for a wide breadth of advice.

What listeners say about Bringing Up Bébé

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  • Em
  • 04-15-12

Inspiring

I started listening to Bringing Up Bébé the very same day it came out. Having a “bébé” of my own who is rapidly morphing into a destructive whirl of Tasmanian Devil-style energy, I was immediately sucked in by the title of the opening chapter of Pamela Druckerman’s book: “French Children Don’t Throw Food.” Oh really… I’m listening.

I’m not sure that there’s any one big Holy Grail of child-rearing here but this book proved to be charming, funny, and VERY informative, and I’ve found it’s been helpful in guiding my thinking about what kinds of values I want to try to instill in my child. Some of these have been surprising. For instance, Druckerman writes that in American households we force “please” and “thank you” down our kids’ throats - convinced that if they can master these two critical mantras of etiquette then they will be society ready. In France they teach this too, but there are two other, even more critical, words: “hello” and “goodbye”. French children don’t slink into the room or run to the TV when their parents' friends are visiting. They look the adult in the eye and say “hello”. The reverse plays out when the visitor leaves. French parents feel that this confers respect – that doing this forces their children to acknowledge the humanity of another person. Listening to this while driving to work I found myself practically fist-pumping. “Yes! I want my daughter to acknowledge the humanity of other people too!” She goes on to point out that much of the hostility that American tourists experience from the French originates from the fact that we don’t say “bonjour” upon getting in a cab or entering a restaurant. Who knew?

Overall this was a truly enlightening listen, filled with lots of inspiring little tidbits like this. Druckerman is funny and relatable and Abby Craden as the narrator was perfection. I was actually surprised it wasn’t the author reading it because her delivery is so natural and she sounds so connected to the material.

99 people found this helpful

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We Aren't All Neurotic New Yorkers

The so-called "wisdom" of French parenting in this book is a lot like the good 'ole common sense American parenting that you can find alive and well in the middle of this country, away from New York City and California. Perhaps Ms. Druckerman needs to travel in her own country a bit more - and step outside of her circles that only seem to include rich, privileged, obsessive, neurotic, ineffective helicopter parents. She uses the phrase, "middle-class families" a lot, but most Americans I know can't afford the nannies, camps, vacations, extra classes and cross-Atlantic flights that Ms. Druckerman mentions. For that matter, most of us can't afford to live in Paris. I know plenty of truly middle class parents whose kids eat their vegetables, sleep through the night, play independently at the playground, and use their manners. In fact, I don't recognize the profiles of most of the American parents she talks about. Parents who allow their children to be the boss and rule their lives are just bad parents, and there are bad parents in every country. From the evidence in this book, there just happens to be a high concentration of them in NYC.

43 people found this helpful

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Great book. Awful accent!

As a French new mom living in the US I found this book really interesting. Although I do not agree with everything, I feel like Pamela's vision of French parenting is very accurate. I can see a lot of myself in her French moms descriptions but also a lot of my own parents.
Even though I really enjoyed the book for its content, I found the reader's performance to be really bad, and actually even annoying to listen to. All along the book the reader tries to fake a French accent and completely fails. Her accent sounds more Dutch or German to me and I wish she just spoke plain English.

32 people found this helpful

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thumbs up

I liked it. This book gives a glimpse into the French way of parenting. It turns out there is a lot to admire and emulate. The author did a good job of high-lighting the things that drive me crazy about what a lot of Americans moms tend to do (I'm guilty!), but in a light way. I don't see this book's premise as a another reason to feel bad as parents, though. I look at it as food for thought. Speaking of food, I've been introducing more variety w/ my kids (based on the French way),...voila! it worked!

29 people found this helpful

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Great Read! Review From First Time Mom

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book made me laugh. My daughter is 11 months old and I read most of it while juggleing her from place to place. Well written and funny. I gave it to my sisters.

What did you like best about this story?

The writer is honest and also adds in a lot of facts about France- I learned a lot along my audio journey.

What insight do you think you’ll apply from Bringing Up Bebe?

To moms: trust yourself. You know more than both you and the oober mommy culture think you do.

Any additional comments?

This is the first book on parenting I've enjoyed reading... Come to think of it, it's the first book on parenting I've actually managed to finish. This book made me feel both hopeful and amused.

24 people found this helpful

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Narrator makes me want to jam pencils in my ears

I had heard great things about this book, and have many friends who recommended it. Being a fan of audible and having little time to read with a new baby I picked up the audio version. What a colossal mistake. The narrator's repeated use of the worst fake French accented English is so awful that I honestly can't finish the book. If someone did a Chinese accent the way this woman does a French accent that person would be decried as a racist and banned from ever using language again. Do yourself a favor and don't waste your money on this audiobook. Unless you want to have your brain repeatedly stabbed with knives

21 people found this helpful

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  • V
  • 12-18-12

Not A Fan of the Book

This book was more the author's personal life (her relationship and work) than actual class between her culture's parenting and parenting in France. She presents herself as a type of New York mom that I can't related to despite being from the US -- so the idea that it is US parenting vs French parenting falls flat.

Readers who do accents crack me up! My partner overheard this book and kept making fun of the reader's faux French accent. Made for lasting amusement whenever we discuss parenting...

I would recommend the "French Children Eat Everything" book. It is more focused on eating/feeding differences. And at least for me, I could relate more to the author of that book. [And I read it rather than listening.]

20 people found this helpful

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Excellent book, ridiculous narration

What did you love best about Bringing Up Bebe?

Parenting books are almost invariably insufferable as they offer some combination of patronizing, ineloquence, triviality, and sanctimony. This book was a clear exception: well-written, interesting and relevant. However, the narration was enervating: most French words, terms, names, and expressions were pronounced incorrectly, and all French speaking characters were performed with a fake French accent (in English). However, even with these shortcomings, I very much enjoyed listening to this book.

What didn’t you like about Abby Craden’s performance?

I resented the mispronunciation of most French words, names, and expressions (from bonjour to Paris Match, through Virginie and innumerable others). Does no one check these things for a narrator who clearly does not speak french? Also deeply disliked the fake French accent (in English) in which all French-speaking characters were read.

What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

The chapters on waiting, food, and discipline.

18 people found this helpful

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Everyone is a better parent than you are

Pamela Druckerman lived in France. She saw French parents doing a better job than she was and wrote a book about it.

According to Druckerman, French babies are treated like little adults and that is what makes the French wiser and better parents.

I have no children. I did full time nanny work for about two years and lived with and cared for children, but I feel like it's important to point out that I myself am not a parent.

This is an attractive book because it portrays a sort of secret code to getting your child to sleep through the night, eat their food and not to be hellions to other people.

Yet, really, its the culture and the social programs in place that seem to make the biggest difference. Americans are never going to take up the ideas of French parenting because culturally we are so different. In short? It seems to me like the whole book is a kind of utopian fairytale. Great for France, but not so applicable to America.

17 people found this helpful

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A novel about being a woman in france

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who like novels about women - going to work, meeting people, experiencing culture shock in another country, dieting and so forth might like this book...oh, I'm sorry -- was this supposed to be a book about children? Yes, there is a small bit of informal information about kids- it is not researched, it is always just things she sees and hears from her friends. But there is so very little of that kind of information it seems almost knitpicky to scrutinize its quality. This is a book about this woman living in France and her personal feelings about random stuff- mostly involving getting used to living in France with her daughter Bean- that is not a typo- I listened to her say that name hundreds of times- slow-mo and fast forwards and every single time she says Bean- so either the narrator has it wrong or the cover is a typo

There is also a strong emphasis on teaching the language and culture of France. These lessons fall equally into two convenient categories: Obvious and Irrelevant

I can't believe I let myself listen to seven full hours before I decided that she had nothing to say on the actual subject of her book.

What could Pamela Druckerman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I like books about raising kids- maybe one day she can write one of those and keep her personal life stories out of it- and she should source her material like a grown up professional who writes based on research

Would you be willing to try another one of Abby Craden’s performances?

For the most part she was acceptable except the long spans in which she spoke with a thick French accent even if quoting a written article- I think she was just looking for an excuse to sound bad- It was hard enough to get through this book without having to rewind bits to figure out what she's saying

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Bringing Up Bebe?

I would cut her personal stories but then the book would be ten pages long. Again this is a lot more about her personal stories than it is about education and very little has anything to do with children

Any additional comments?

So here is her advice:
-Let babies cry for five or ten minutes before tending to them- so they might comfort themselves.
-When children over four demand attention, politely tell them to wait a moment
-low carb diets work and can make you as pretty as the women in Paris
-The day cares in France are awesome
- France is a great place

The rest is all filler

16 people found this helpful

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  • Jordanna
  • 02-29-12

Would be great if it wasn't for the fake accent

Its an interesting book that has definitely given me a lot to think about. However I felt it was let down by the INCREDIBLY irritating, horrific french accent that the narrator puts on when she wants to quote a french person. I've had to take a break from listening to it simply because of that.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sara
  • 03-16-12

Maman knows best

I am a mother of a toddler, and as such have read a few books and articles about how I should be doing my job. I first read an article about Druckerman which led me to download the whole book. It's written by an American talking about French parenting, and as an English mother, I found it really interesting to be able to read it from a third perspective and have no personal issues with either style of parenting. I can imagine that some people may be defensive of either culture's ways, but I was pleased to simply listen to the evidence and take what I think is useful and relevant from it.

Regarding evidence, Druckerman has done a lot of research, I was concerned this would just be an anecdotal opinion piece, and was pleased to find that there was actually a lot of scientific and historical research quoted to back up the observations she was making.

Overall I thought this was a really interesting book, with some definite - if not sometimes obvious and common sense - methods which could be put into practise. But as I've found so far in parenthood - indeed in life, sometimes you do need the obvious to be stated in order to simply recognise and consciously decide to act on it. However I do agree with the previous reviewer, the narrator's French accent is terrible sometimes, and I accept the fact that not everyone can do accents, but perhaps they should have found a fluent French speaker to read the book, as there are quite a lot of French phrases used throughout and it did rather undermine what was being said.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Heather
  • 01-05-13

The fake accent is grating

I enjoy the topic and the writing. But the choice to use the fake French and British accents was a bad decision on the part of the producers. Now, the voice of the recording is very grating, and I also can't help hearing the narrator's creaky vocal fry. Yikes. The voice is the most important thing for an audio book. I think I'll be returning this one.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Rebecca
  • 06-05-12

Fun but don't take too seriously

Quite interesting and some food for thought. I think I'd have liked the book more with this one as it's the kind of book you would want to dip into and skim areas, also the narrator speaks so quickly I missed a lot of what she said which I found very frustrating. I nearly gave up on this a few times but quite enjoyed coming back to bits of it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • flo
  • 05-11-18

All I want is a calm and sensible child

Before listening to this book I have read the Danish way of parenting, I found a lot of similarities in the way these Europeans do parenting.

It might be hard to practice some advices outside Europe cos we don’t have much of those non fairy tales ending story books.

Totally fascinated by the crèche! Wish we have this in Hong Kong!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Emma Waters
  • 03-04-18

Easy listening common sense.

Humorous and informative in places, this is a good read for parents and parents to be. The only downsides to the audio book are the attempted accents that can be slightly annoying.

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  • shane barnard
  • 02-15-18

Food for thought

I loved it, what a holistic view on parenting and helping your child to become a strong independent person.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ioanna
  • 01-15-18

a good read overall.

it was a good read overall. more as a memoire rather than a parenting book with I liked. The French access was good and helped me distinguish who was talking.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-10-17

very relatable!

really enjoyed the book, as the mum of an 11month old we also named bean, it was interesting to hear the differences in behaviour from both french parents and kids.

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  • Zdenek
  • 09-03-16

Helped me to relax as a mother

This book is a very helpful study of french parenting that helped me to relax as a mother and realise that I should listen to my intuition more and filter all the advices from other sources. Very useful story told in a witty way with a pinch of humour. I highly recommend it.

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  • Lucy
  • 12-21-18

Loved it

Loved listening to this book. It is full of funny and compelling observations. It also helps that the reader has a clear voice and does a good job distinguishing 'characters' via accent.

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  • ellen evans
  • 10-03-18

excellent!

i want well mannered patient french children. great read. my new bible. cant wait to read her other books

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-13-17

Easy parenting tips to digest

Was quite entertaining and very byte sized for us to listen to in the car. Great book and not bad audio!

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  • m.m
  • 08-03-17

Fun and enlightening

I enjoyed the story, i am not sure how much i can actually follow french strategies even though they sound reasonable. The book doesn't give you exact guidelines and strategies on how to apply french parenting tools but as you move from chapter to chapter you get the general idea since the writer is not an expert but only transferring to you her personal experience, well the book is not boring as most parenting books to me, i consider this a bounce!

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  • Eady
  • 06-29-17

thoroughly enjoyed

excellent book, very well read except for the cringe worthy pronunciation of most if the French words. interesting and insightful!

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