there has been a brisk response, sometimes derisory, to the recent announcement that France has banned work e-mails after six p.m. it’s not strictly true, actually, as it only applies to ‘forfait jour,’ or temporary contract workers, but it certainly got the rest of the world thinking about the French attitude to the working week, especially as it came on the heels of what may be just about the most offensive Cadillac advert ever.
(if you don’t know the one I’m talking about, here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBfDNq4NlPw)
Cadillacs aside, this recent discussion of the sacrosanct nature of French leisure time has been interesting to observe. in the aftermath of the e-mail announcement, the Huffington Post published an excellent Sarah Klein Article on French lifestyle as part of their on-going series Living Well, On Location. in it, the author really gets to the essence of what it is to set time aside to enjoy life, and a good work-life balance is essential to this. the new e-mail rules for forfait jour workers reflect this – they are, after all, the sector of the working population in France that is least protected by labour laws and the powerful French union system.
check the article out here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/france-living-well_n_5148599.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false
some of the most important themes to emerge from this article are to do with the importance of family, and by extension, having time to spend with family, but the central role of food in French culture is also clear, as well as wide access to cheap, high-quality, university education.
one of the things that Klein observes is that ‘France wants to help parents raise kids.’ France does this by underwriting many costs associated with childcare, by offering good maternity and paternity leave, and by providing a great free education system as well as affordable higher education. but French parents themselves have a great handle on raising kids, and they tend to raise polite, well-behaved kids. they do things differently to American parents and differently to British parents, and it’s worth looking at what they do differently.
lots of authors have looked into this, and there is now a flourishing, freshly-printed selection of French-style parenting tomes to choose from, but here are a few of the most interesting and realistic articles from my favourite blogs and websites:
Kim Willsher, although a writer for Britain’s Guardian, is raising her own children in Paris, so she’s well-qualified to have an opinion on the merits of French attitudes to parenting; here, she reviews the book French Children Don’t Throw Food, by Pamela Druckerman. this article is refreshingly honest about the pros and cons of the ‘French’ approach, as well as pointing out that much of what we consider the Gallic approach is actually a stereotypical view of middle-class French attitudes towards the roles of parent and child. definitely worth a read, with plenty to take home…
Paige Bradley Frost moved back to Paris in 2011 with her two young children, and is a writer for, amongst others, the New York Times and the Huffiington Post. in this beautifully illustrated article, she highlights the strengths of the French approach to parenting, which goes a long way to underline the importance of keeping time for yourself and reducing the ‘scheduled’ time that is the expereience of many American children and their mothers.
Paige Bradley Frost blogs at: http://parisdejavu.blogspot.com
Catherine Crawford is an American mother, living in Brooklyn with her husband and two girls, and in this article she reflects on lessons learned during an evening dinner shared with French family friends. in addition to talking about how she grew as a mother over the seven year period between her first shild and the present, she examines the reactions to the noisy play and attention-seeking emerging from the next room during this dinner party, with interesting conclusions…
Catherine Crawford is the author of French Twist, published by Ballantine Books.
although most books and articles on French parenting focus on young children, Sylvia Sabes, a copywriter for brands such as Cartier, Hermès and L’Oréal, has written an excellent article about boundaries for French teenagers, drawing on her own own experiences. although the article begins as a treatise on the high rate of smoking among French teenagers, it’s actually about much, much more…
follow Sylvia Sabes at: http://findingnoon.com/