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Busting the myth: French children are not perfect

So you know all the literature, and books about how French children sleep soooo well, are such great eaters and are perfect little well-behaved angels?




I am not going to say they were LIES, but they are inaccurate in the sense that not all children are raised this way.

CASE IN POINT — Little French cousins

Honestly, before when I was pregnant, the amount of nonsense I got from my French side of the family about how to raise my kid, let them cry it out, sleep in another bed, feed them this, that… #(%*#)^)#^…. it was enough to make a pregnant woman pretend she was so tired, she had to be alone to lie down and sleep 18 hours a day. *ahem*

(Speaking for a friend.. that is)..

Now that MORE people my age are pregnant and/or have had children close to Little Bun’s age, the truth comes out.


FACT: French kids are well-behaved…

I will not deny the envy I feel when I see Little Bun’s cousin listen and be so polite to everyone versus my little heathen who runs around in underwear and holey t-shirts (he won’t wear anything else at home), refuses to wear pants, and cries when people try to bisou hello, unless you scary-Mommy-quiet-threaten NO CAKE EVER AGAIN if he doesn’t kiss them politely on the cheek.

ENVY. I tell you.

I feel ENVY when I hear: Little Cousin, if you don’t do X, you will go straight to bed then. …. cue Little Cousin complying completely with zero tantrums and meltdowns.

He listens the FIRST time and doesn’t lose his #%(&#%, unlike my child.

He naps ALONE without much of a fuss.

So the main thing is: Little Bun is not Little Cousin they are two separate kids

Their personalities are drastically different.

I can see that Little Cousin is far milder, more pliable, accepting (they are the same age), and friendlier than Little Bun. Little Cousin is SWEET, and Little Bun is sweet too, but not as open to strangers coming near him, saying hello, or even wanting to be near anyone but Mommy or Daddy. He clings to us like Cling Wrap and Little Cousin is the opposite in personality in this regard.

We will see what happens when they’re older, but.. yes, French children are raised very well and behave well. They have threats of being sent to bed as punishment. I wish I had started that earlier but it is too late now.

FICTION: …but maybe not when they’re older!

So teenagers are teenagers. Pre-teens are wannabe teenagers. I encountered a gaggle of French ones who did not know how to behave in a church and I was completely shocked.

Yes, we are NOT religious but we ARE respectful.

In any place considered important or holy, you can be sure that we will be removing hats, covering our shoulders if need be (or our hair if asked), and not making noise.

These French preteens? When they were kids, they were pretty polite and would clear the tables without nary a sneer and did it without even being ASKED, they were so well trained.

Now? This one boy who I thought was so well-raised, not only wore a hat in church so that his grandmother had to hiss at him to remove it, he also left his cellphone on. HE LEFT IT ON.

It rang THREE TIMES IN THE CHURCH before his grandmother, seething with fury, hissed at him to turn the damn thing off.

Ringing once, fine. I can see that being a mistake. Oops, I forgot! How embarrassing... but TWICE? THEN THREE TIMES? And not even moving to turn it off!?!?!?!?

We were floored. He at least, thankfully, did not answer the phone, but… wow.

FICTION: French kids eat and try everything

Sorry. LIES.

When they saw Little Bun trying things like octopus (with a little encouragement), and tasting all sorts of different things (again, more encouragement), the stories about their grandchildren started pouring out about how they refuse to eat anything but mashed potatoes or pasta.

Oh realllllllllly??????????, I said with an internal Cheshire grin.

Sounds like a NORMAL child to me!!!

Little Cousin at dinner time, had to be coaxed (and this did not work 100% of the time) to even take 2 bites of food.

What he would say:

  • Nooooo I don’t like peppers!!! to which his parents would reply very crossly: STOP. You LOVE peppers. You have eaten them before.
  • I don’t want to eat!! .. to which his parents would reply: So then you go straight to bed if you won’t eat. then he would take 2 bites
  • I don’t know how to eat!.. to which his parents would pick up the spoon and feed him, rather than as all French children are supposed to *sly smirk* feed themselves without help *smirk*


Like every other child, he doesn’t want to eat, stages food rebellions, etc.

Even Little Bun does it from time to time and won’t eat soup or this or that, or tried octopus but won’t eat it again because now it’s “yucky”….

FICTION: French kids don’t eat junk or snack


Little Cousin starts his day with chocolate Nesquik milk, finishes with a strawberry and a chocolate yoghurt, has fried pancakes covered in sugar and cinnamon, and snacks pretty much the entire day until lunch or dinner.

He will snack on olives (his father pits them for him), and so on, and you wonder why ALL KIDS (French or not), come lunch or dinner time, refuse to eat?

When my sister-in-law saw Little Bun eating plain, unsweetened yoghurt, she thought it was a GREAT idea because she never considered you could have items without sugar in it, as we adults are used to a certain way, so we raise / train our kids to eat with sugar added to everything (even strawberries.. this is very French to add white sugar to strawberries when eating them).


If you let them snack and ruin their appetites, they won’t eat.

Little Bun refuses to eat sometimes now, because he is waiting for blackberries or for other yummier things. We just don’t feed him, and we don’t give in by giving him other snacks to eat.

Eventually, his hunger builds back up and he eats everything again. *shrug* This is how hunger works.

So. French kids?

Not perfect all the time. They DO refuse to eat and stage food rebellions and frankly, all parents are just trying to survive, French or not.

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