different strokes

A French Woman Living In The US Calls Out A Major Difference Between American & French Parents

Which way is better?

Originally Published: 
In a recent TikTok video, a French woman living in the US tackles the differences between how Americ...
@hellofrenchnyc / TikTok

Social media has given parents a special glimpse into how children are raised around the world. While the fact that parenting is hard is quite frankly a universal truth, there are so many differences in the way kids are brought up by their parents.

From Spanish playgrounds to Norway trains, others parts of the world totally know how to do childhood right, catering to families and making kids a part of society (as they should be). Along with infrastructure and environment, parenting styles are also a bit different from country to country.

Cécilia Jourdan, a content creator and French teacher living part time in the US, often shows the differences between American culture versus French culture, including parenting techniques.

In a recent TikTok video, Jourdan tackles the differences between how American parents praise kids versus French parents. And let’s just say...American parents are so extra. (Guilty!)

In the clip, Jourdan first displays how an American parent reacts to their child showing them a drawing of what appears to be a bunny. The “mom” immediately bursts into praise and over-the-top excitement.

“Aww, this is beautiful! Honey, look at Emma's drawing! We gotta put you in art school! Mommy will put this on the fridge. Thank you. Thank you, my little artist!” she says.

Then, Jourdan shows how a French parent would typically react to the exact same child drawing. The French mom — who is reading a book and drinking wine as opposed to the American mom who was working on a computer with a green juice (ouch) — is happy to see the drawing but keeps her composure.

“Oh, it’s cute. What is it?” the French mom asks. “A rabbit? Ah...”

She then notes that the ears on the drawing “look funny” and offers to help the child redo the drawing to look more like “real bunny ears.”

“It’s a good start. It’s not bad,” she says with a genuine smile. “Listen, bring your pencils so I’ll show you how to draw real bunny ears and also add a body.”

The video soon went viral with American parents as well as parents from around the world commenting on how they think kids should be praised and if the “French way” is a bit too harsh.

“I'll take French parenting. It's honest and real,” one user said.

“My dads french — it’s not for the weak 😅,” another joked.

Another user admitted, “I’m currently the American version but really see the value in the French approach. It focuses more on continual improvement and honesty. Fantastic”

“🇺🇸 mom here. now my kids think they are the best at everything and don’t need to practice and quit when they aren’t good at something immediately 😩,” a mom wrote.

Another said, “Non judgmental vs. judgmental parents”

One user argued that both approaches are flawed, writing, “The way both of these are presented are with the parents as judges of the quality of execution of the artwork. Limiting for creative development.”

Despite the arguably more harsh French response, they might be onto something.

The New York Times noted that Carol S. Dweck Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education — studied the effect of the “American” type of praise in the late ’90s.

She found that it could have a harmful effect. Her research showed that children felt pressured to live up to their parents’ constant praise, and this in turn could lead to panic and anxiety.

Even kids who didn’t experience anxiety became risk-averse, developing what Dr. Dweck later termed a “fixed mind-set.” These children were afraid to challenge themselves out of fear of letting down their parents.

Jourdan, who was once a step parent herself, understands that parenting is no easy feat and believes that both of these approaches have positive and negative aspects.

“I’ve noticed many differences between how French and American parents raise their kids,” Jourdan wrote in the viral video’s caption. “One salient difference is how American parents tend to encourage their children a lot and praise their accomplishments (even the tiny ones) while French parents are less congratulatory and have a more up-front approach.”

“There are, of course, caveats when comparing these two parenting styles. Each country has many variations, and kids may receive very different upbringings. However, as a French native who grew up in Paris (raised by French parents) and spent her adult life in the US, I’ve realized that the kind of feedback kids receive from adults (not just parents, but also teachers, for example) is quite different in each country.”

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