Back in the beginning of May, my son Adam and I took my dream trip to Paris and Rome. I am just now taking time to pull together some thoughts and observances that I had, so here is a first installment:
We were surprised to see that people in Paris and Rome don’t always walk their dogs on a leash, even on a busy street. The dogs know to stop at the corner and seem to be very well trained to come when called. The day we sat outside the Eiffel Tower in the park, watching the people go by, it was fun to see dogs running free. A beautiful husky was apparently lost and came by to visit with us for a while.
Parents are also pretty free with their children by U.S. standards. They just walk along and the kids, even little ones, are expected to follow. It’s not that they aren’t aware of their kids or concerned for their safety, it’s just that they don’t seem to have that obsession that parents here have with watching them every second. Keep in mind that the traffic is frightening – cars and buses and motorcycles careen by at breakneck speeds! I saw a little boy of about 2 toddling after his father, pushing his stroller – this is obviously an international phenomenon – when he veered off a driveway almost into the road with traffic. The father, a tall, lanky young man, was after him immediately, and scooped him up, chastising and hugging him for dear life at the same time. The father was obviously shaken by the near tragedy, but seemed to take it as part of the day.
Like the dogs, children are trained to stop at the corners. One of the first things I noticed in our little neighborhood in Paris were the kids riding around the sidewalks like crazy on scooters. I would have been scared to death when Adam was a boy for him to go flying down a crowded sidewalk on a scooter with cars and buses right there on the street, but the parents call for the children to stop at each corner and the children listen dutifully. Would American children be as obedient?
I couldn’t put my finger on what was different there, so I looked up “child rearing in Paris” and came across a book that came out a few years ago called “Bringing Up BeBe” by Pamela Druckerman. If you are currently raising little ones, you may want to read it. Here is a link to a great review:
The author is an American who couldn’t figure out why French children were not throwing tantrums and controlling their parents’ lives like children she observed here in the States, and she says it is because French parents basically ignore their kids 90% of the time and are much more relaxed. They encourage their children to play by themselves and foster independence in them, and believe it is okay to still have a life as a grown-up. They don’t worry if their kids are bored occasionally and teach them to wait for things. Also, their “non” means “non”.
I was not the perfect parent by any means, and it is by the grace of God that Adam has turned out to be the responsible adult that he is, but as an educator, I am appalled by the children who feel the world revolves around them and the parents who seem to agree. Young parents today seem to be trying awful hard! Maybe it is time to sit back and let our kids fall down and learn some lessons on their own, and try parenting with some “Laissez-faire” – (noninterference)!<a href="https://maflake.files.wordpress.com/