At this point, I am trying to take everything with a grain of salt. There are SO MANY books, articles, opinions, and arguments. They usually all contain at least one or two great tips!
I was going to write this review the night I finished the book. But then my laptop keyboard stopped cooperating. (it's quite old) By the time I found a new computer, my initial enthusiasm about what exactly I appreciated about the book had waned a bit. I don't think any one culture contains the perfect way of doing something. With all its faults - where there are human beings, there will be FAULTS - I still appreciate living in America.
After reading the book and a few negative reviews, I have to say I still consider it worth reading. My kids are in the toddler stage, which means they are exploring and testing boundaries. And they need them. They are much happier when they know what to expect, not to mention they catch on very quickly, which is less work for me.
The author noticed that all the French parents around her made the exact same parenting decisions. Some of these seemed beneficial as a general rule, such as a providing a firm, predictable framework for the day. Mealtimes, bedtimes, and manners were all non-negotiable - I found myself nodding along with these. Other things that I personally think are very important were outright discouraged, such as breastfeeding and staying home the first three years.
Yet, the culture didn't seem to give space for families to decide what was right for them.
Let me share a personal example to illustrate what I mean. Had I only had one baby, I would have followed the scientific evidence for extended breastfeeding, most likely nursing once at the end of the day until closer to two years old. Despite having two babies, I remained dogmatic about nursing until their 1st birthday. Around that time, I read that a sweet spot for weaning was between 12 and 15 months. By the time their birthday rolled around, nursing had started interfering with other important things, such as getting them out and about, and I could tell that for our particular family, weaning was the best course of action. (That age range really was a sweet spot!) This doesn't mean I'm wrong or others are wrong, it's just what we were able to do and what I felt was best for the boys and I.
Conclusion: Worth It
See what I mean? There are some things that individual families need to be able to tweak without outright disdain and discouragement from the culture and government.
In general, though, I found myself encouraged during a time when meals and structure are what I think most about in this season of child raising. Her style of writing was easy to follow and the book turned out much more interesting than I expected.