Finally confident in my level of French, I decided to purchase a book on French parenting. The book Il n’y a pas de parent parfait by Isabelle Filliozat caught my attention. It’s title in English means perfect parents don’t exist.
Authored by a psychologist and psychotherapist, this book deals with the hard issues parents face. It’s an emotional book forcing parents to examine themselves so that they can build a stronger relationship with their children. I’ve never read a book that confronts issues such as preferring one child over the other, regretting the sex of the child, and impulsive reactions. She discusses issues such as how our decisions are affected by stress and fatigue, and can worsen to a point of not feeling love for our own child. Not loving our children? Yes, it happens. We can’t always be on top of things, and when we do not get enough sleep or go through a difficult period, it is okay to want to scream. “No one, especially our children, wait for us to be perfect,” she says.
This is not a book about swaddling your baby, [amazon_link id=”2501056868″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Il n’y a pas de parent parfait[/amazon_link] is about tackling your inner demons so that you can be the best parent possible. It’s a book about thinking twice about your actions or word choices. She makes you reflect on your childhood, parents, and events that have turned you into the person you are today. After looking inside yourself, you can see how some of your actions or words affects the relationship you have with your child. The last section of this book touches on issues such as becoming attached, breastfeeding, and getting your child to sleep. While some of her advice is not new, her angles and supporting evidence are refreshing.
Real cases are provided and dissected to show you how the parents were able to resolve or face particular issues. Her simple language and constant examples make this book very easy to read and understand. Some of her topics don’t apply to me yet because my daughter is too young, but I am thankful for reading them anyways. When the time comes and a certain situation presents itself, I feel that I’m better prepared to handle myself.
One problem in our society is many parents hold on too tightly to the image of being a bonne mére or bon père. The author believes that parents try too hard to reach their perfect image and forget to act on what their child really needs. “An infant does not need perfect parents,” says Filliozat, “he needs parents that are good enough, that is to say the parents who, of course, try to do the best to care for him, protect and nourish him, avoids him harm, be extremely frustrated, but who know that they are capable of mistakes and able to recognize them.”
Il n’y a pas de parent parfait begins by asking parents to distinguish between bêtises and faults. Sometimes we punish our children because of our own emotions state, not because the child did a grave erreur. Most parents that spank do it because they are tired, stressed, and feel that there are no better alternatives. If a small bêtise, or mistake, causes you to get so angry that you spank your child, what lessons are you really teaching him? And how will he distinguish between dropping his bowl of cereal or running across a busy street? What makes you get so angry that you want to hit him? These are only some of the questions that the author brings to your attention,and also shows you why spanking is counterproductive.
One-third of this book is devoted to topics ranging from giving birth to watching your child grow into a young adult. It touched me when she spoke about how and when your milk drops depends on your emotional state, and it could cease to happen if someone convinces you that it’s not possible. My milk dropped late and the pediatrician and puéricultrice at the French hospital tried convincing me to give my daughter formula, that breastfeeding would not be possible because I didn’t have milk. I asked for a breast pump and stopped listening to those around me. One midwife said that as long as my daughter was wetting six to eight diapers a day, she was getting enough – she was, I relaxed, milk began flowing.
I enjoyed reading the short chapter about sleeping with your baby. She mentions that 80 percent of pediatrician consultations for children less than three years old are for sleeping problems, yet pediatricians continue to proclaim that babies should be sleeping on schedule by three months old. The baby moves, the mother reassures the baby, the baby falls back to sleep. It is only natural to sleep with your infant, and mothers are programmed to be on the same sleep schedule as their babies. When you throw in bottle feeding and sleeping separately, the mother returns to her old sleep schedule – so she becomes tired, and even more anxious for her child to sleep. This made me reflect on my choices because when my daughter slept with us, she always slept through the night or would fall back to sleep quickly – I was rarely tired. Now in her own bed (in our room), she wakes one or two times almost every night, and it takes a while for her to get back to sleep. Filliozat talks all about this in detail and it is a very interesting read.
The table of contents for Il n’y a pas de parent parfait…
I. Parent against child
1. The tendency to dramatize
2. Dads – are they different than moms?
3. Self-image and weight of guilt
4. Impulsive reactions
5. When the pulse becomes compulsion
6. Cognitive dissonance
7. Insults and devaluation
8. When we escape the blows
9. A history of status
10. When he opposes
12. Who has power?
13. Intimate Intrusions
14. Papy “made preferences”
15. It is less easy to love another
16. This character, which sometimes exasperates us
17. Boy or girl?
18. He looks like me too much or not enough
19. Love is not so simple
II. Because of our excesses
1. The maternal exhaustion
2. The father is he to his position?
3. Unmentionable deficiencies
5. When a test absorbs our energy
6. It is “all I want to”
7. A story that repeats itself
8. The leak in pain
9. When one has no right to exist
10. Repair injured relationships
11. From where comes these fantasies for children?
12. Injury of a helpless witness
14. Unconscious revenge
1. Fetus and there already!
2. The extreme childbirth experience
3. These first moments that allow the attachment
4. Words that stop milk
5. Infant crying
6. Sleep like a baby
7. One year
8. Eighteen months – three years
9. Four to twelve years
11. One day, they leave
IV. Coaching workbook
Exercises, recipes, tips and tricks to get by in everyday life
Reading Il n’y a pas de parent parfait was emotional for me. I related to some of the things she said, and others made me really think about life. We are hoping our next child will be a boy, but if it is a girl, the author discusses how our emotions could impact our new daughter if disappointment exists, even on some small level. I only browsed through the coaching section and will complete it later. For less than 6 euros on [amazon_link id=”2501056868″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Amazon[/amazon_link], I definitely feel I received my money’s worth of information.
This book will not be easy to read by parents with childhood trauma or who feel guilty for the way they are with their kids. However, this book is not about laying guilt on mistakes make, it’s about recognizing them and moving past them.
“Childhood passes very quickly,” says Filliozat, “Never again will they have five, six, ten, fourteen years … We have only twenty short years all to spend with them on some ninety of our existence. Each moment of happiness is a moment won.”