We may idolize french culture for their fashion and their food, but what about their parenting style? French parenting, while not so dissimilar from their Western counterparts, does prioritize the growth of a child. From a young age, the child is treated more as an adult, a trend that emphasizes the idea that as a society, we should be raising adults, not children. As a parent and educator, I find myself agreeing on multiple tenets of this philosophy. Best of all, the French style of wellness benefits not only your children, but you, too.
While it may not be possible to fully subscribe to the French style, these three tips are a great place to start!
- Make Mealtime Count
It’s no secret that the french people are masters at maintaining a healthy weight. The secret to their trim physiques? Proper portion control. For many living in France, the cuisine is an important part of the day. Enjoying a well-crafted dinner is a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Additionally, children living in France benefit from superior school lunches. While these lunches feature baguettes, cheese, and dessert, they all arrive in perfectly petite portions.
Your Turn: Practice intentional eating during your family’s dinner. While your children may not be used to eating meals that focus on vegetables, you’ll be doing you and your family a favor by committing to nutrition! If you’re tempted to make additional meals or exceptions for your kids, consider that the French parent would treat their child as an adult. Encourage them to take a few bites to develop their palate. And don’t forget about school lunches! When possible, take inspiration from these traditional French school lunches. Real food wins!
- Get Active
Besides taking the time to eat a balanced meal, frequent movement is also an essential part of French culture. Children are expected to walk or bike to school. Additionally, starting a young age, children take frequent walks during school and at home.
Your Turn: If possible, encourage your children to walk or ride bike at school. And, when they return home from school, practice sending them right outside to play. Spending time outdoors can empower kids to explore a new world on their own.
- Define Your Role as Parent and Person
To raise a child in the French style means not sacrificing who you are for the role. French parents carve time to act like an adult. Evenings, in particular, are designated as ‘Adult Time’. Children are welcome to join in these quiet moments, where adults may be talking, drinking tea, or socializing with friends. Chances are, the children will find more entertaining ways to pass the time.
Your Turn: You may feel that you’re not able to turn off your parenting hat each night, but what about taking baby steps to limit your parent-role all the time. Invite a few friends over for dinner one weekend. Talk about what the evening will entail with your kids and invite them to find ways to play by themselves. Clearly, this strategy will only work for children who are able to care for themselves! But don’t shy away from giving older siblings more responsibility, especially while you’re still there in the home in case of any emergencies.
What are your thoughts? Do you credit a certain style of parenting as your go-to?