Published: 18:52 BST, 31 May 2024 | Updated: 20:23 BST, 31 May 2024

An American mom living in France has revealed the biggest differences of parenting in the two countries.

Erica Jackson Curran, who is the mother of seven-year-old son Oliver, spoke out about the contrasting parenting styles during a recent chat with Business Insider.

She said she noticed that as an American living in Bordeaux, France, she tends to hover around her son in the park, meanwhile, French parents provide their kids with more autonomy.

The Virginia native also noted that another difference was that French children were usually ‘impeccably dressed,’ even at the playground, unlike American kids, who leaned towards more comfortable ‘fits.

Erica explained that ‘one of the best places to observe the differences between French and American parenting styles’ was at French playgrounds.

An American mom living in France has revealed the biggest differences between parenting in the two countries

The self-aware mother also admits that American parents ‘tend to hover,’ while their kids play.

She shared: ‘Although my son is fairly self-sufficient at age seven, I definitely stuck close to him when he was younger – loudly pointing out dangers and reminding him to be careful, standing ready to catch him if he fell, and even intervening if he encountered a poorly behaved kid.

‘This kind of helicopter behavior is fairly common among American parents, but less so in France.’

Instead, she noted that French parents tended to stay seated on a bench and provided their children with space to explore on their own.

She observed that even when French children wander on their own, they are ‘rarely heard crying,’ and at most, get only a skinned knee.

Another thing that Erica observed about French parents was the way they dressed their kids.

Erica noted: ‘Girls often wear pretty cotton dresses with tights, ballet flats, and matching bows in their hair, while the boys wear nice pants and button-up-shirts, topped off with a thick sweater or jacket – sometimes even on warm days (because the French dress for the calendar rather than the weather).’

She added that even when French children spend hours playing, they often ‘still look so fresh and so clean.’

The mother comedically commented that her son could be easily spotted in the crowd because he was usually wearing ‘his comfortable athleticwear – soft joggers, T-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers.’

Erica Jackson Curran, who is the mother of seven-year-old son Oliver, spoke out about the contrasting parenting styles during a recent chat with Business Insider

Erica jokingly said that her son often sports ‘short sleeves on chilly days, usually with stains somewhere on his clothes.’

The mother admitted that she sometimes got ‘disapproving looks,’ however, she thought it was ‘important to let [her] kid dress the way he wants.’

She also believes that her son has organically built confidence by sticking to his style.

Erica continued: ‘Even more importantly, I’m proud that he’s recognized that he dresses differently than his French classmates, and he’s OK with it.

‘In fact, he’s told me he likes being different, and I love that about him.’

The mother also noticed that French parents rarely yell, and she confessed that she is trying to implement the same practice.

‘Yelling is very common among parents in the US, so much so that their reprimands are often completely ignored by their kids,’ she said.

‘This is partially why I made the decision to try not to be a yeller even before having my son, but I still do let out the occasional holler: “Look out! Stop that! Five more minutes!”

‘And when I do that in France, I get stared at, because French parents rarely raise their voices.’

Instead, she observed that French kids were usually ‘pulled aside and very quietly and sternly reprimanded’ if they did something wrong.

Erica said that she believed the tactic was ‘a lot more effective,’ adding that she had mostly encountered calm and well-behaved French kids.

Erica lives in Bordeaux, France. Pictured is a stock image of Place du Palais in the city

The fourth difference that Erica noticed was that she rarely saw French children on iPads.

While dining, Erica said she was shocked by the French children who managed to ‘sit quietly and politely’ during meals that lasted for hours, and all without an iPad in sight.

Erica shared: ‘I was struck by this at a recent café lunch, where a young boy about my son’s age ordered beef tartare, and spoke quietly with his parents throughout the meal.

‘Meanwhile, my son was noshing on fries, drinking Coke from a bottle, and playing games on my phone.’

She continued: ‘But I also feel like it’s a lot to ask an energetic child to sit still for over an hour at a quiet restaurant.

‘And I’m 100 per cent OK with letting him have a few minutes of screen time in exchange for allowing my husband and I to enjoy our meal, and a few minutes of adult conversation.’

A fifth thing that Erica noticed was that American children tended to snack more than French kids.

The mother mentioned that most American kitchens had ‘a selection of junk food in the house, such as chips, sugary cereal, and ice cream.’

But Erica explained that when Oliver had his French friends over, ‘they seem genuinely perplexed when he offers them snacks.’

Instead of his adolescent friends choosing the junk foods options, they usually request milk or fruit instead.

According to Erica, while American children usually snack throughout the day, French kids only snack during ‘le goûter,’ at 4:30pm, when they get out of school. Their timely snack is meant to ‘tie them over until dinner.’

Erica theorized that the constant snacking may be the reasoning behind childhood obesity being a greater epidemic in America rather than in France.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, 17 per cent of kids age 10-17 in the US are obese, while a 2020 survey found that only six per cent of kids eight to 17 years of age are obese in France.

By admin