Synopses & Reviews
Adventures in Franco-inspired American parenting—a winning mix of witty cross-cultural observation, hilariously blunt French wisdom, and one American mom’s journey to create her own hybrid parenting approach
“If there is no blood, don’t get up.” This single nugget of parenting gold, offered by a French friend at the end of a long dinner party, changed everything for writer Catherine Crawford, her husband, and, especially, the couple’s two young daughters. Crawford immediately began to see that while the United States had become the land of too-involved parents forever wanting to talk through their kids’ feelings about, well, everything, France employed a far more laissez-faire attitude raising les enfants. Learning to sleep through the night? A few tears never hurt anyone. Food? Let them eat cake, sure, but only after they’ve sampled lamb chops, broccoli rabe, and the stinkiest of cheeses.
Short of shipping her daughters off to Paris for these—and many other—invaluable early-life lessons, Crawford did the next best thing: She brought Old World–style parenting to Brooklyn. In the process, she discovered that her kids could actually hold a thought silently for two minutes without interrupting adult conversation, and that she didn’t, in fact, need to buy out half the toy store to make their birthdays special. She even found out how much her kids like lamb chops! While combining the best attributes of the approach français with what she saw as American qualities worth preserving, Crawford found a way to save her household and her sanity. Hilarious and insightful, French Twist reveals how Crawford and her family survived le grand experiment—and why they aren’t ever going back to the way things were.
“French Twist describes an open-minded experiment in French-style parenting (though apparently there’s not even a French word for parenting!) and reveals itself as an honest examination of the author’s own missteps and prejudices—which we all can relate to—and the whole overparenting trend in this country. Are Catherine Crawford’s conclusions ‘French’? Who cares? They’re immensely logical and rational, and delivered with an abundance of love.”—Muffy Mead-Ferro, author of Confessions of a Slacker Mom
"Brooklyn-based parenting writer Crawford, the mother of two young daughters, claims that we have lost control of our children and our lives. Frustrated by her kids' propensity for throwing tantrums, she notices that the children of her French friends (Brooklyn has a large French population, she observes) are much better behaved. In this charming and clever parenting chronicle, the author decides to 'Frenchify' her family, delving more deeply into French parenting practices, interviewing parents, touring France, and taking stock of her own home life in an effort to find the key to why French children seem so polite and cooperative. Crawford reveals that French children sit quietly at the dinner table, don't talk back, don't throw tantrums in grocery stores, and somehow manage to skip over the terrible twos. French youngsters come across as respectful and sweet, with a minimum of meltdowns. In France, Crawford discovers, parents are 'chiefs' and their rights come first, with privacy and the marriage taking precedence over the demands of children. (French moms, she also finds, tend to give up breast feeding after three months or less.) On the downside, the French spank (an American no-no), tend toward public humiliation as a method of keeping kids in line, and may fall short addressing special needs kids in school. Though some may prefer their naughty kids just the way they are, this breezy, entertaining study of parenting a la Paris may prompt others to pour a cafÃ© au lait and rethink their strategies." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Catherine Crawford is a contributor to Droolicious on Babble.com, and the parenting website What They Play, where she conceived of and has written the Mothership column. She has appeared on CBS and Fox to discuss issues related to balancing work and motherhood. She lives with her husband, writer Mac Montandon, and their two children in Brooklyn.