Top critical review
We Get It, You're Middle Class
Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2017
I lived in France for year and had already been introduced to the books, French Women Don't Get Fat and French Kids Eat Everything so I was already a bit biased towards French culture. I did notice during my time in France that kids would sit in bars drinking milk or juice while mothers and fathers had wine and in general the kids seemed calm and even tempered. That said, I think the book offers one perspective on some of the differences between French and American children and why. I found it to be an interesting read. Her writing style is light, conversational which makes for an easy read. My big issue with the book is that she emphasizes in nearly every chapter, multiple times that she is middle class and that she is talking and gathering opinions from middle class parents. The few times it was mentioned, I just assumed it was frame to help the reader understand the groups she spoke with but she reemphasized it repeatedly throughout the book and after some time it seemed like bragging or being condescending.
As well, I think she underestimated or played down some significant differences between parenting for women in France and the US. She noted the free children, free health insurance, education, etc. but that's a big, big deal. There is no federally mandated, full-paid, maternity leave in the US. American mother's are at the mercy of whatever their employer wants to offer and FMLA which only guarantees 2/3 of pay for 6 weeks. French mother's get 3 full months, paid. Childcare is not free to American mothers those 6 FMLA weeks; a good daycare for an infant 5 days a week can easily cost $2k a month or more. French mother's pay nothing more than their taxes for creche. There are not what's sounds like an army of free options to help a mother breastfeed, retighten and whatever after delivery for American mothers and preschools aren't necessarily free depending where you live, university isn't free for much later, etc. etc. French mother's have a lot of help.
I'm with the whole well-behaved child, and not turning yourself into a muppet just to be mother i.e. giving up adult life and adult language but perhaps it is a bit easier to be that type of mother and raise that type of child when there's more state resources in a society that values and wants to protect motherhood rather than one that creates and obstacle course for women who want to be mothers and working professionals.
I actually really enjoyed the book and plan on trying some techniques from it, but I could've done without Druckerman's classist, rose-colored "if only" take on motherhood, where she ignores hards truths and significant obstacles for American mothers.