What an utterly fascinating book! Okay, full disclosure, I have no children of my own, no younger siblings, and never really babysat, so my frame of reference for child rearing techniques is admittedly quite limited. That being said, working years in retail has acquainted me with how American children of different ages act, and how their parents (usually mothers) often respond. It's also a culturally accepted fact that American parents will be exhausted by child care and that they would do just about anything to ensure their children a leg up in the world, even if it makes them look ridiculous.
Druckerman, a journalist and mother of three, lives and raises her children in France with her British husband, and witnessing the drastically different French style of child rearing inspired her to research and write this book. She acknowledges that she and her fellow Anglophone mothers are all too familiar with sleepless nights, tyrannical children who refuse to behave, and complaints about their husbands' varying degrees of uselessness. But Druckerman's French friends all have children who sleep through the night a mere three or four months after birth, who are impeccably behaved and sit quietly at the dinner table and are happy to eat what is placed before them, and actively romantic sex lives with their husbands. Druckerman's quest is to find out what philosophies and attitudes might lead to this difference, and whether it is achievable for parents outside of French culture. What she finds out and the conclusions she arrives at are astounding, both in their far-reaching consequences and their simplicity, and her engaging, personable writing makes this a wonderful read.