It is the latest craze in town and I am sure that you can’t have missed it: apparently, the French are better at parenting than the British or the Americans. To top it up, French children don’t throw up food, are better behaved, know what the limits are, and so on, and so forth.
How come I hadn’t noticed? Why hadn’t anyone told me?
Let me be blunt here: I am not sure that the French have “parenting secrets”- we are all doing what we can. And as you know (you can read the post here), one of the reasons French kids are so well behaved is that we French tend to be much harsher with our kids. That said, the secret -if there is one- is that French women have a life that doesn’t revolve around kids. I have seen many women who simply lost themselves when they became mothers. Their whole life is about bringing up their offspring as best as they can, sometimes to try to make up for their own mistakes and choices.
I remember a friend of mine who was doing four different menus every day to accommodate all her three children’s tastes. No wonder she was at the end of her tether. And to make matters even worse, her children were getting used to it and were not even trying to taste anything else. A vicious circle.
I only do one menu for everybody, and that’s it. Always have. Always will. And if my children don’t like it, well, they can always catch up at the next meal or have a toast. As a result of this (very French) approach, my children eat everything: from blue cheese to pot au feu. And if they are a bit reluctant to try something new, I have no problem in ‘tricking’ them.
Let me explain: for instance, my younger one didn’t want to drink sparkling water for some reason. I told her that it was ‘transparent coke’. It worked. For the record, we don’t have sparkling water at our house, we have transparent coke. And she drinks it. Problem solved.
Sometimes my children don’t want to eat fruits. I take it by stage: I give them a compote (I especially like the Crushed one, it has the taste of my childhood), and tell them that, yes of course they like fruits: they just had some. Job done! And the beauty of the Crushed compote it that they come in a shiny new pouch, and it feels like a treat. Again, job done!
As for cheese, somehow initially my children only liked it melted on a pizza, but not on its own. I pointed this out, and they had to admit that it was the exact same thing. I started heating the cheese of pizza less and less and eventually they came to like it. It is all about strategy. We have salad with blue cheese from time to time now.
That said, I never force them to try something. I make it look completely natural. And if they don’t it eat this once, they can try the next time. No big deal. It usually does the trick!
For the series ‘Maman knows best’, I have teamed up with Crushed. All opinions remain mine.