Some of the dust is finally starting to settle after last month's publication of Pamela Druckerman's Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. In the book, relatively new parent and American-in-Paris Druckerman begins to keenly observe the differences between the French parents around her and her own definitively American style of parenting.

The Book

Where American children run amok at playgrounds and nearly dart into traffic, French children remain obedient and mind their manners. While American mothers cater to their children by bringing half the toys they own to playdates and playgrounds and every snack imaginable in its own Ziploc container, French mothers bring a ball and remind their children it's not meal time yet. The French way, as Druckerman observes, is certainly much more calm and beneficial to the sanity of the parent.

Particularly amusing are the sections on dining. Our poor American children are raised to think boxed mac and cheese contain actual cheese, whereas French children of the same age can describe and name various cheeses and what they should be paired with for a true dining experience. The book dispels the myths that children cannot handle the introduction of real foods, real early. Another fun and wincing aspect of the book is learning of the differences in politeness and manners. (Hint: American children have no manners as compared to French children here.)

An excerpt of Druckerman's book was posted on the Wall Street Journal last month, followed by a live chat session of mixed feelings on the part of American parents.

The Reaction

Parents are gobbling up Druckerman's fun, witty, and self-deprecating observations, but they are also getting defensive too.

For older Americans the lack of politeness perceived in today's American youth is a big issue. The WW2 generation has witnessed callous and disinterested grandchildren too long not to give Druckerman's book a little credit. French parenting, they argue, is really just old American common sense, pre-1970s.

For others, like Forbes' Ericka Brown Eickel, Bringing Up Bebe smacks of socialism and does not allow for the individuality of a child to shine through. Name one French billionaire or self-made person, she argues. To her, Druckerman's book and French parenting is all about obedience, and obedience doesn't yield greatness that Americans are known for.

There's a middle ground here, and really reading Druckerman's book will help you find it. We don't have a monopoly on the right way to do anything. Study after study shows U.S. children lagging woefully behind in various aspects of education. Surely, we can take some of her observations and lessons with a grain of salt? Individualism and creativity is great in a kid — but so is being invited back to people's houses and living a Velveeta-free life.