Deborah Ross: You too can adopt French-style parenting – just say 'Non!'

If you ask me... I'm falling behind on the My Child Must Be Ahead Of All Other Children Act of 1981

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If you ask me, I would like to draw your attention to the success of a book called French Children Don't Throw Food, by Pamela Druckerman, which posits that French children are much better behaved and generally happier because their parents take a significantly more relaxed attitude and don't over-analyse or over-fuss. Are you a French-style parent? Ask yourself the following questions and if you answer each with a resounding "Non!", I'm thinking maybe you are:

Have I ever played any of those Baby Einstein DVDs to my baby, as recommended from three months even though, at this sort of age, babies cannot focus properly, let alone sit up, and would say if they could: "From where I was lying, it was just fuzzy rubbish"?

Do I see danger everywhere and lethal bacilli on every surface, and am I always producing anti-bacterial gels from my handbag because, what, a bit of soap every now and then isn't good enough for me, all of a sudden?

As a subsidiary to the above, would I rather be dead than retrieve a dummy from the floor, blow on it, and put it back in baby's mouth even though "Blowing On It" is recognised as an excellent method of sterilisation, whatever the science may say?

Do I fear that unless I comply with the My Child Must Be Ahead Of All Other Children Act (1981) and over-see a strenuous timetable of extra-curricular activities, my child will still be finger-painting well into his or her teens?

Do I forbid my teens from going "out" to do "nothing" with "people" – What people? "Just people" – and further forbid myself from saying: "Why don't you go out with some unjust people for a change? How about Kim Jong-un?"

When nearby families move expensively to "better areas" for the "better schools", do I consider this an absolute torment even though I can now steal their door furniture, bins, and even parking space?

Do I marvel at every doodle and hang it on the fridge even though it's rubbish and even though I am actually minded to say: "I think you did your best work when you were two, darling?"

Have I ever wheeled my child out in front of other people to show he or she can sing/dance/recite poetry/ play violin or steadfastly refuse to eat a crisp, because it has dropped on the floor?

Have I put this quiz aside for later because I have homework to supervise and must pass off the hamster's death as "a mini spa break at Champneys"?

And, lastly: Have I ever received a dough ball to the head in Pizza Express, and not wished I'd moved to Paris years ago?

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