1. The Secret to French Parenting

    Just when the blogosphere finally drew a collective breath after tearing apart Amy Chua’s indictment of American parenting last year, in came 2012 and a new book that offers its own claim to child-rearing superiority. Replace Chua’s Chinese “Tiger Mother” with her high-heeled French equivalent—as chronicled in Pamela’s Druckerman’s newly published “Bringing Up Bébé”—et voilà. Let the tearing begin.

    As critics were quick to point out, Chua and Druckerman’s manifestos seem to occupy the same literary “niche,” for lack of a better word—from their widely read excerpted previews in the Wall Street Journal to their sharing the same publisher. And both books blatantly tap into the crisis mode that seems to characterize the state of parenting, or of motherhood, in present-day America. For Chua this crisis is best defined by what she describes as a defeatist, “try your best” mentality that American parents bestow on their children; for Druckerman, an American journalist raising her three children in Paris, it’s the lack of an authoritative “no” in the vocabulary of American parents.

    This is more or less where the similarities between the two books end. Because while Chua’s ultimate goal in “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” is to vindicate a society that places the child firmly in the center and pushes him or her to as many accomplishments as they possibly can (and then some), Druckerman mainly seems to be interested in learning how to discipline her children just enough so that she can get her own life back. … [Read more