September 28, 2014

"What strikes me as noteworthy is how easy it is to parent certain values in your kid if the whole culture supports a set of imperatives."

"The mom didn't do this on her own. The kids are used to good social behavior because they learned it in school, with friends, at family gatherings. She is just the maraschino cherry on their path in life. Much of the socialization of children takes place in schools and day care centers here, starting with infancy, where good manners, especially table manners are taught as assiduously as nursery rhymes and letters of the alphabet."

From a description of very young French children eating dinner at a restaurant with their mother. You have to scroll past (or linger over) many travel photos to get to this text, which surrounds the last of the photographs.

69 comments:

NotquiteunBuckley said...

What strikes me is you.

I've decided my time, being a man born free, is too valuable for you to whimsically dissipate.

Nothing but the best is my wish for you.

Goodbye.

This is a link to a man singing "if you can't see my heart you must be blind"

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Damnit.

This is a link to Born Free by Kid Rock.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Our white supremacist culture chooses the values for American children and supports them with the overwhelming imperative to keep the white supremacist structure in place. Small children of color learn from an early age that they are on the outside of this society so keep quiet and get with the program: there is no racism anymore, so even though you experience it everyday at such an early age you must remember to pretend it doesn't exist so whites will like you -- and in America it is all about needing the whites to like you if you are to have any chance whatsoever.

America: where any child can grow up to be President if they have white friends. And are at least half-white.

It is turtles all the way down...

Fernandinande said...

betamax3000 said...
It is turtles all the way down...


In France it's frogs all the way down.

I lived in France briefly; they seem to keep their kids somewhere out of sight.

chickelit said...

"Turtle Downs" is the name of an ancient racetrack where Aesopian fables were played out.

BDNYC said...

Some tourists are so keen to generalize and make large points about life and culture and so forth based on short encounters overseas. Impressions can be deceiving.

"It's so easy to raise children in France!" Maybe, but that ignores the end result, which is that you've raised your children to be French.

Meade said...

It's escargot tout le chemin vers le bas.

MayBee said...

I disagree with her almost completely about it being hard to be a parent in America or about people making it hard for you to raise your children to have good manners (!).
And, I agree with BDNYC.

I have brought my children, when they were little, out to dinner around the world. Some of my best memories are of them interacting with the kind waitstaff and even other patrons (one famous Italian man's two year old daughter came and stood by my 7 year old son and would not leave!). They were well behaved and wonderful and charming. Imagine the French people watching us and generalizing about Americans!

MayBee said...

The French very much like other people's well-behaved children. It isn't that children are so well-behaved there. It's that if they aren't well-behaved, you don't bring them to the restaurant. That is different than America (unfortunately).

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the lousy parents in France just hire a babysitter and go out to dinner by themselves. If so it is an admirable cultural trait. In America the lousy parents bring their heathen broods along and delight in sharing their misery with their countrymen.

The Crack Emcee said...

Please - I put these stories with those "French women don't get fat" lies:

See one French woman with well-behaved kids and, somehow, miraculously, they all are.

Whites worshipping Europe should come as no surprise.

But this is ridiculous,...

Titus said...

None of the restaurants I go to have children...I don't think they are allowed.

tits.

Anonymous said...

When they grow up to be student protestors, they will wait politely for you to get out of your car before they set it on fire.

Titus said...

France is so fab....and we have Mississippi-how sad.

tits.

kcom said...

"What strikes me as noteworthy is how easy it is to parent certain values in your kid if the whole culture supports a set of imperatives."

Does it, perhaps, take a village?

The Crack Emcee said...

A message for betamax3000.

The Drill SGT said...

My favorite parts of Italy and France;

Bolzano and Alsace. Both were lost to Germany after WWI. In both cases the underlying peoples are German, but with Italian and French passports. It's a good mix. Names like Henri Zimmerman, or Marcel Schmidt.

Love the food...

Particularly the Flame tarts and the Rosti mit Kase

Anonymous said...

In return, a message for The Crack Emcee:

Your website paralyzes my computer -- too many posts it is trying to load, usually have to Force Quit. You may want to consider having it display by pages, with X-amount of posts per page. Just my experience.

The Crack Emcee said...

The Drill SGT,

"My favorite parts of Italy and France;

Bolzano and Alsace."

I was attacked by Nazis in Alsace.

None of this - including it being your favorite place - comes as a surprise,...

The Crack Emcee said...

betamax - noted.

The Crack Emcee said...

betamax,

I reduced the number by half.

Just for you,...

Anonymous said...

Crack,

Thank you!

John Lynch said...

Yeah, yeah, if the French do it that makes it OK.

Babaluigi said...

Say, "please, thank you, yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, no ma'am" and have good table manners? Why, that is what I taught my own children. They were taken to restaurants from babyhood on, and were not allowed to run around and generally act like savages in public. They also started flying on airplanes as babies, and disturbed no one. It takes planning, vigilance and discipline on the part of parents to have well-behaved children who are welcome in most places.

Frankly, it takes a bit of self-sacrifice on the part of the parent. It is not martyrdom, it is called, "doing your job". In the places where families are usually found, no reasonable person should object to the occasional wails of the baby with a sudden need, and very small children might suddenly erupt because they are still learning. But the parent should immediately deal with the new problem and remove themselves and the child if the noise/ behavior does not stop. Too bad if it interrupts their meal/experience, what about everyone else there? Nobody outside one's own family should have to put up with that.

The funny thing is, when children are disturbing other diners or whatever, most people seem to be muttering about what the hell is wrong with the parents.

Paddy O said...

My wife lived near Toulouse for about 4 years. 3 of which entirely immersed, with only being around French for the most part.

She is not nearly as sanguine about French parenting in general.

I agree with the comment above how it depends on the kids. A mother by herself wouldn't want to go to a restaurant with unruly kids. Well-behaved kids make it relaxing.

n.n said...

Much of the socialization of children begins at home, then is either reinforced or contested by the community.

paminwi said...

I agree with Babaluigi. You must be willing to leave the restaurant if your children do not abide by the rules you have set. It is what we did with our children and often received compliments on their good behavior after doing that.

This same standard works on groceries stores, Target like stores, etc. you just have to follow through with your "threats".

Mary Beth said...

They looked older than I expected from the "very young" description. Mine knew how to behave at a restaurant by that age. I would expect to encounter more annoying children while dining out near my home than while traveling because I dine out frequently but only take one or two trips a year.

I wonder how many well-behaved children were on the train but weren't noticed because of the on disruptive Swiss boy.

Alex said...

Are we supposed to ignore the 10% Muslim population of France?

Darleen said...

Poor dear Crack never embraced Exodus 20:17

The jealousy just oozes from him, bless his heart.

Alex said...

Do the French even have kids anymore? Last I heard having kids was considering a nuisance.

Darleen said...

Parenting is work regardless of culture. Some people embrace it, some just wave a hand or shrug a should and let kids raise themselves ...

Taking credit for good and acting surprised at the bad.

Darleen said...

"should" = "shoulder"

apologies

Alex said...

Crack - I looked at your brown-eye/blue-eye video. All I saw int he end was another liberal mean-faced, clipped-haired lesbian berating some poor white student as being secretly racist or something.

The Crack Emcee said...

Darleen,

"Poor dear Crack never embraced Exodus 20:17

The jealousy just oozes from him, bless his heart."

Yeah - I sooo wish it was my people who enslaved whites. Then we could laugh at you for centuries. Live off of your money. Discriminate against you. Segregate you. Abuse you.

Then we'd be as mental as y'all are.

And you'd be the one who's "jealous".

Instead, I have to live with being part of one of the only groups in America that knows better,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Alex,

"Crack - I looked at your brown-eye/blue-eye video. All I saw int he end was another liberal mean-faced, clipped-haired lesbian berating some poor white student as being secretly racist or something."

Secretly?

You mean by habit - you know, like child rearing,...

Freeman Hunt said...

My kids eat nicely in restaurants. This is certainly not by the example of other children.

What strikes me as noteworthy is how easy it is to parent certain values in your kid if the whole culture supports a set of imperatives.

That's certainly true though.

The Crack Emcee said...

"What strikes me as noteworthy is how easy it is to parent certain values in your kid if the whole culture supports a set of imperatives."

That explains why they still exude white supremacy,...

Joe said...

"it is far far easier to be a parent in France than in the United States..."

Beyond the huge selection bias, raising kids in a homogeneous society IS easier IF you are willing to go along with the status quo. However, if you aren't, then it's much more difficult.

I should also point out that if your teenager decides they don't like the homogeneous society, parenting life will become a living hell. (Unless, of course, said society supports teenagers being assholes.)

tds said...

1. society in France probably supports turning them all into assholes, too. lol
2. it's like a Truman Show. People are talking about you on the Internet, but you live in total oblivion.

The Drill SGT said...

When disparaging the Frogs, one should make a distinction between country Frogs, who are quite pleasant and the Parisian Frogs who are complete a$$holes, like the folks in NYC.

I like Country Frogs, particularly Normand Frogs, who still remember the Ami favorably. Parisian Frogs on the other hand are obnoxious a$$holes.


n.n said...

Alex:

A nuisance or a "burden". Actually, the fertility rate in France (<2) is comparable to America (<2). The rate is proportional to morality or risk and inversely proportional to pleasure or ambition.

Anonymous said...

The Crack Emcee said...

"What strikes me as noteworthy is how easy it is to parent certain values in your kid if the whole culture supports a set of imperatives."

That explains why they still exude white supremacy,...

Crack,
Coincidentally I covered this at 8:44 on this post. You could learn from me...

chickelit said...

Speaking of frogs, the German word for turtle is Schildkröte which literally means "shielded toad." And if you look at the face, legs and tail of a turtle, they sort of do look toad-like.

Es ist Schildkröten ganz nach unten...

chickelit said...

What strikes me as noteworthy is how easy it is to parent certain values in your kid if the whole culture supports a set of imperatives.

Kids are ids. Parents are their egos until they're old enough to grow their own. If the parent is lacking, society is the next level buffer -- the super ego.

chickelit said...

Step on a Crack,
Break the mofo's Back

nina said...

Those who disagree with my words that "it's harder to parent a kid in America" should explain to me how they could possibly dispute it, given my comment immediately after -- that our country doesn't cut parents much slack in terms of family leave.I would add to it that our day care is inadequate and expensive. And finally, yes, there is a different emphasis on what values are supported in any number of institutions. I don't think I wrote anywhere in the piece that France is good, great, better. I think the point is that it's different. One good outcome is pleasant behavior at the table and good eating habits. You can speculate if that comes at a price.

The Crack Emcee said...

chickelit,

"Step on a Crack,
Break the mofo's Back"

"The crack is how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen

I think he's waaay more credible, than you are, when it comes to philosophy,...

The Crack Emcee said...

nina,

"You can speculate if that comes at a price."

I don't have to - I lived there, on and off, for 20 years AND I have several God kids there:

Kids are the same the world over,...

The Crack Emcee said...

My French kids are noticing they're treated differently than their Turkish friends as they grow up.

Our countries aren't that different,...

chickelit said...

"The crack is how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen

No, I think enlightenment would kill your persona like a vampire.

But, I'm hoping there's a real person in there and I want to be around when it's exposed.

chickelit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Babaluigi said...

I must be missing something here, what do family leave and daycare have to do with pleasant table manners and good eating habits? One could eat dinner at a fast food restaurant and still exhibit good table manners and respect for fellow diners...Teach your children what you want them to learn, transmitting your own values and interests. Raising children in the US can be a slog against the "popular culture", if that is counter to your own beliefs. But, that is part of the job, part of the "hard work" of parenting... The worst parents could have been the beneficiaries of "family leave", and still inflict absolute little hellions upon the world.

RecChief said...

Looks to me that she simply believes in "French Exceptionalism". How does that belief differentiate her from any other Frenchman or -woman?

Titus said...

Boston is very euro...if only the rest of the country could come along.

But you are still young, you taker, redneck, flyover states.

I love euro. When I travel to Europe I am home.

I will likely retire to some Euro metropolis and be all Christopher Isherwood.

tits.

MayBee said...

Those who disagree with my words that "it's harder to parent a kid in America" should explain to me how they could possibly dispute it, given my comment immediately after -- that our country doesn't cut parents much slack in terms of family leave.I would add to it that our day care is inadequate and expensive.

I see why you and Althouse are friends. Your communication styles are so similar.

Anyway, I stayed home with my kids, so daycare and family leave weren't a thing.
I also think that has little to do with parenting- being hard to be a parent- and perhaps more to do with working. Hard to be a working parent, perhaps, in a dual income home. But that is a sliver of what it is to be a parent.


The kids I've known who've gone to good day care here in the US, whose parents could afford it, didn't necessarily have good table manners.
Things like good table manners when eating out with the family are about the relationship with the parents.

MayBee said...

ALso,
that our country doesn't cut parents much slack in terms of family leave.I would add to it that our day care is inadequate and expensive. And finally, yes, there is a different emphasis on what values are supported in any number of institutions.

Perhaps you went into your post thinking, "Oh, France has these things I wish we had, and look how nicely those two familes are behaving in the restaurant. I see causation, here!"
When, as I said earlier, I think what you were seeing was parents with unruly kids staying home, and a culture that does encourage *that*.

The Godfather said...

So a Madison blogger, presumptively liberal, has just discovered that culture is important. Please call Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, and Michelle Bachman and give them the news.

And she discovered this in France at the very time when French culture is in danger of being overwhelmed by unassimilated immigrants. Brilliant.

Within my family, which includes members born in Korea, China, England, and Germany, as well as the US, and among those people I know who have, or recently had, young children, the terrible American culture with its failure to mandate that employers give adequate parental leave time, etc., doesn't seem to have prevented them from raising well-behaved, well-motivated, children.

Annie said...

Titus, I would stay away from places like the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium. Their refusing-to-assimilate muslim population don't take kindly to gays or uncovered native women. Violence against both groups is high.

Oh and be aware of the 'no go' areas in France.
*moves finger across the neck*

Darleen said...

Then we'd be as mental as y'all are

Your shortcomings have nothing to do with slavery. But it makes a nice little nail for your hammer to pound.

I'm the descendent of slaves and you know what? Doesn't mean crap.

You want to live off your melanin, that makes you a racist, dear.

5150

nina said...

I think the Althouse ship has sailed elsewhere by now, but I did want to add that my description of an evening out was merely anecdotal support for a point (about institutionally supported imperatives that assist parents in raising well mannered, good eaters) that has been well documented by others elsewhere. There is lots of good reading material on the topic.

Cultural differences in parenting are interesting to me for very many reasons, not the least is that I was born and raised in a different country (Poland), yet had my own children in the States.

MayBee said...

Thanks, Nina.

I, too, find the subject interesting because I raised my children partially in the US and partially elsewhere.

Japan had tremendous cultural differences in child rearing and almost every other aspect. That was a good place to have middle schoolers, but not because of any government support we got (we didn't).

Ann Althouse said...

"but I did want to add that my description of an evening out was merely anecdotal support for a point (about institutionally supported imperatives that assist parents in raising well mannered, good eaters)..."

This is a side effect of travel, though, isn't it? Having traversed the globe, you're inclined to think that you should be observing the people and you are freed from the usual social taboos about stereotyping.

You observe a few individuals, and it seems normal to think and talk about how the [name the nationality] people are.

But if stereotyping is wrong — morally and scientifically — something that's a big component of the psychology of travel is lost.

PatHMV said...

I've read this type of story before, and it is always presented as an example of the French way being superior to the American. But I'm not so sure it is.

Certainly I would prefer to eat in a room full of French families dining out than American ones, on the whole. But what kind of adults do these kids turn out to be? Do they ever question authority? Push back against unfair rules? Demand a change?

Americans do that; it's in our cultural DNA. Sure, we could raise our children to meekly sit there and do exactly as told, without question, every single minute of the day. But would we still be Americans? Would we still have the drive and ambition and questioning force that led us to our successes?

MayBee said...

You observe a few individuals, and it seems normal to think and talk about how the [name the nationality] people are.

Yes!
People do this all the time.
"I was talking to my Australian friend, and Australians think......"

The farther away the group is from you, the more inclined you are to think the few examples you personally know are representative of the group.

amie lalune said...

Crack:

Did you ever wonder how your French kids would be treated in Turkey if they immigrated there?

On second thought, you probably haven't.

Kelly said...

I eat out often and have never run into hordes of uncivilized, screaming children so many talk about. I have never had a meal ruined by a brat chasing the weight staff around the table with a spork. I've even dined out with my sister and her four children and had a very nice time. Perhaps I live in an are where all children attend French themed day cares where they are properly civilized?

Babaluigi said...

Just because some of us have taught our kids how to act in public, that does not mean they have chains on their brains...

All in all, if we are talking about stereotypes here, the French do have a reputation for being "rude".( I hope to get there someday to find out for myself .) It does seem that in America, our "social norms" have all been blown to hell in the last few decades, so a lack of "good manners" is a shame, but not surprising. Our manners here can also differ according the regions. Were you suggesting, Nina, that the expectations are more across the board in France? (I still reject the idea that daycare and family leave make the difference.)

Unknown said...

The Crack Emcee said...
My French kids are noticing they're treated differently than their Turkish friends as they grow up.

Our countries aren't that different,...
9/28/14, 6:49 PM

Hate to be pedantic Crack but I wish you would elaborate. You think mulattos or mulatto children in France are regarded or treated worse than Arabs or Arab children? How so?