I wrote an article before giving birth about the French parental style. After giving birth to my daughter, I realize now that I must clarify something in my last post about French parental styles. The French do not judge other parents, but they certainly do judge their relatives.
I do not believe in the cry-it-out method of parenting, which is popular in France. If my daughter cries, I am going to run to pick her up. I do not care if it is to be fed or if she just needs some cuddling time. Both are equally important in my eyes. I understand that there are times when she just cries and nothing can be done to calm her. But I would rather she cries in my arms than all alone. My husband received advice from his family that it is okay to let her cry. It has been hard to convince him that while that is acceptable here, I do not want to raise her this way. What his family is saying is not necessarily wrong and I am not judging them. It is just that in my heart, I cannot do it and cannot stand the thought of anyone not coming to her aid when she is crying for help or attention.
If she has gas, it does not mean she should cry that out as well. Try burping her or holding her up and down. Sometimes bopping her up and down helps her. When I had trouble burping her, no one here seemed to have advice on what to do. His mother would just hold her and walk around, but not try different positions or even try burping her. It was heartbreaking to me to stand by and watch my daughter cry uncontrollably. Now, if she is not able to console her after a few minutes, I ask for her back. That does not make her a bad grandma! After one loooooong day of not being able to console my daughter myself, I finally called my older sister in North Carolina to give me advice. I finally was able to make Juliana more comfortable and get her to calm down by burping her a different way and getting her to suck on her thumb or side of her fist.
We had a champagne toast one night to celebrate Juliana’s birth. She was three weeks old. After nursing her, I wanted a glass of champagne so I could join in the celebration. I read that one glass is okay and it takes up to 2-hours for it to leave your system. If she wants to nurse while it is still in my system, the only harm it will do is make her sleepy. As long as I am not drinking every night, it will not affect her development. My husband’s cousin felt opposite! Several times she mentioned to me how she went through her pregnancy and breastfeeding period without a single glass of alcohol. Of course, after she lectured me, she went outside for a smoke. Guess no one told her about the effects of second hand smoke with kids.
When Juliana was six weeks old, we flew to Florida to introduce her to my side of the family. My mother was shocked that no one taught us how to swaddle a baby. That would have been helpful to know because Juliana wakes herself up when her arms fling out. Also, we never used burp clothes! We did not receive any as gifts and I could not find them at stores. So I figured they were not significant. Once in a while I would throw a hand towel over my shoulder, but not consistently. My mother said that each time the baby was in my arms, I should have the cloth on my shoulder. Whoops!
I had absolutely no experience with newborns before giving birth to my little princess, so I was not aware of many things. All of what I learned was through books, phone calls to my family and advice from my husband’s family. However, I found that so far, the French style of parenting conflicted to what I felt inside was right. I am not saying that they are wrong. My husband turned out exceptionally! But I do not have the heart to listen to my daughter cry or standby by as she suffers from a gassy tummy.
I am much more “hands on” than a typical French mother. I love putting her in my Baby Bjorn or scarf carrier, and wearing her around the house. I love having her share our bed instead of placing her in a crib in a separate room (for the early months). Even though sometimes she will not stop crying unless you are walking with her in your arms, I will walk with her for as long as it takes to settle her. Because I am choosing to raise her differently than what they think is common sense, my husband did not know what to do. His family told him one thing while I told him another.
When Juliana was about 4 weeks old, we gave up listening to other people. We do what we feel is right. We listen to advice from both sides of the family but will take advice that resonates with us. Hopefully we will make it through her childhood without too much judgment from our families, otherwise, let the fun begin! I cannot wait to see what his family has to say when I continue to breastfeed after the 6 month mark… less than 1% of women here do that! Uh-ohhhhh…..
Image: I took this photo of Juliana as a fun way of illustrating she is French American. For those of you that are sensitive, I am in no way advocating giving alcohol to kids! I originally bought a baguette to use, but my husband ate it before I had the chance to use it!