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First of all, there are misbehaving French kids out there. But I do agree with Pamela's observations, that French kids seem generally better behaved than their American counter parts. My theory is that right from the beginning, French parents gently teach their kids how to wait, right from the beginning with their newborns.

That looks like Tess. Ah yes, it must be the parenting!

Jane Williamson

I have to say that from my experience of listening to my friend with English children in a french college, that there seems to be quite a lot of bullying and not just against the english children.
The staff seem almost incapable of dealing with this.


Hi Lynn,
I must say that I've noticed exactly what you've seen while in France, although why I can't begin to speculate. Even groups of seedy-looking teens I encounter, whom I expect to be vaguely threatening like their American counterparts, are instead unfailingly polite. French children do not interrupt, nor do they expect to be the center of attention. It's very refreshing!
While I love the way French dogs behave, sometimes I wish that they would be more affectionate toward strangers (me) rather than sitting quietly near their owners! I'll never forget the day when eating in a nice restaurant, the couple next to us rises from their table and starts to walk from the restaurant. This huge mountain of fur I had totally failed to notice, calmly stood up from under the table and followed them outside. I had no idea an 80+ pound dog had been sitting at the table next to me.

Christine Webb-Curtis


Thanks for bringing up the subject of children’s and dogs' behavior. It's totally mystifying. That dog on the right would be our dog, though he’s a small bichon and technically easier to manage. He has a faulty recall button, so I hate to think what would happen if he escaped from his leash.

After our recent three-month sojourn in France in the fall, we’ve decided to take him with us on the next trip. We missed him, our son who watched over him would like to have missed him, and he would, I’m sure, give us an opportunity for endless conversation. Even without him, we had many enjoyable conversations with small white dog owners.

On another note, I just finished “Sailing to Jessica,” which I read to my husband on a road trip. And I posted a review on Amazon as I know how important those are from personal experience. While it was quite an adventure and we enjoyed the book very much, it squelched any notion that we might have ever had about sailing around the world—or even sailing up the Sacramento River to the San Francisco Bay. It’ll never happen. We’ll take a road trip in France instead.

Julie Farrar

I've written about this, too. I would not say that they're perfect. I'm finding more and more I'm at risk of being run down by skateboarding ados. Last month the only whining, crying kid I saw at the market, though, clearly was speaking English. Not having raised a kid over there, I can't claim any expertise, but it is a visible difference.

As for the dogs, I think I have a theory as to why you can dine in a white tablecloth restaurant and never notice the dog under the next table. The French take their dogs almost everywhere; therefore, the dogs are more comfortable with crowds, noise, and other dogs. In America, our dogs spend a lot of time alone in a house or a backyard. They rarely get to interact with strange dogs. And the owners themselves aren't comfortable with their dogs around other dogs. My dogs have always been socialized, but other owners automatically pull on leashes or move to the other side of the street, treating my dogs as a problem even though they haven't even glanced their way, so their dogs never get to interact. On the opposite extreme, I've encountered too many owners who exert no control over their dogs and let them loose to come rushing right at my dogs. The owners casually stroll over, calling out, "Oh, he's friendly." Well, that may be, but meanwhile my dog is getting ready to protect me from this stranger running toward us at full tilt.

Monty Herron

Bonjour Lynn, concerning French children, I totally agree with you that they are selfless, patient and so much more mature than American children of the same age! Again, it must be the parenting and I don't see the French parenting any less loving than us but certainly more strict. Now about their dogs. If I ever get another dog, I am going to ask a french person to show me how to raise it up like they do. Rarely do I ever see a french dog on a leash and it just follow its master quietly and calmly! How do they do that??? Comme d'habitude, j'adore votre blog! Montelle

Mark Kane

Young ones in Japan likewise. I wonder if Amish kids, albeit American, are self-possessed at a young age. One last note--from the dark side--a standard diet in the U.S. is not good for kids.


Lynn, this is a lot of food for for thought!
I was especially captivated with the picture of the French Yorkie.
We've had Yorkies for over 40 years, and I can attest to the fact
that they are extremely intelligent,loving,devoted to their master,
and strong willed!! Obience without breaking their spirit is not easily achieved. (we,of course,think our two are perfect) :)
THANK YOU for another wonderful post!


I agree with you on the French kids, but I have been chased while cycling by a proportional number of French and American dogs, so... not sure about that! Although French dogs do behave nicely (for the most part) in restaurants!


I worked in France as a nounou about 30 years ago. The children I worked with were nice children for the most part. When I picked them up after school, they walked right home, and didn't talk back or anything. At the dinner table, they ate their food, not much chatter though. Time to wake up, bathtime, time to go to bed--I don't remember any problems. They just did as I had asked. Their mothers had already reminded them that they had to mind me. One parent told me that I could spank them if they got out of hand, but long before then, I had decided that I would never hit a child again, and I didn't. I don't remember any tantrums, whining, or interrupting. The same as any children, some of them will try you to see what your made of. I had two boys who were well-behaved when their parents were around, but when the parents were away, they were not pleasant. They kicked each other, and called other children names like "pig." Also one of them was rude to me, but I believe it was because he preferred his mother, and wasn't happy with the nanny thing.
As far as being better behaved than American children, I would have to say that not all American children behave poorly. We have some well-behaved children also, and their parents don't have to beat it into them.

Lynn McBride

From Andra Paddio by email: The Wisdom of French Parenting?
I beg to differ, Pamela Druckerman. Wisdom? NOT!
"Image and Reality: A French Passion"
Based on my personal experience, children are simply not encouraged to
have a normal or fun childhood in France. Perhaps it is because of
this, that the French are known for their French indifference and
stoic attitudes - this really is "What makes France So French"! (a
reference to my first book).


Another story to add to the collection about French children: while in Paris this past Oct with a 92 year old friend who uses a cane, a young child, old enough to know better, ran by her, dangerously close. Then we saw a young lad, around 10-12, in the group, run after that child. He had him apologize to my friend. And to think, this was done without an adult suggesting it.

Erica Sawhill

When I gave birth to my son in France, the nurses IMMEDIATELY put him on a schedule and let him cry for his feeding from day 1!!!! I was shocked! This was 30 years ago- I hope things have progressed. Also, some time ago I spoke to a friend's niece about her French high school and she said the kids were incredibly rude and disrespectful in class...

Martin Withington

Can't comment about les chiens franca is but as for the children, I'd at a big factor is sittingg down every day, all together for family meals. This happens less and less in the UK too. If you you go into a French restaurant and there are kids wandering around whilst parents chat away obliviously, the children are never French but you can usually win good money if, before hearing they or their parents speak, you wager a good few Euros them being Brits. This, regretfully from an Englishman and generally proud of it.


Amish children are also very in control at a young age. i recently had to give 3 seminars to AMish farmers in PA and was amazed at how their toddlers and infants sat quietly through an hour lecture on a topic certainly boring to them.

Carrie @ Season It Already!

I had always wondered this myself... and I have seen that kids don't have separate meals. As we age our palates adapt, so why not offer up the same foods right away?

One time, in France, I saw a dog look both ways before crossing a road. It was deliberate. I'm not even kidding.

Debbie Ambrous -

We were in Bordeaux and walked to a train stop, a small inner-city train. School students were sitting on the bench talking with no notice of anything else including our arrival. Suddenly one of them noticed we were standing and literally jumped to his feet along with a couple of others. We were amazed at their courtesy and reminded that our age was showing at the same time. We were proud of them,and we showed our appreciation.


Um you need to spend a bit more time with primary school aged French children and you will see they are no better and no worse than kids anywhere. Oh course, that idea doesn't sell books!

Martin Withington

You're right about this of course until French kids sit down for a meal. That's when cultural differences really start to kick in!


Don't get me started. I"m a 20 year veteran elementary school teacher in the U.S. and have five delightful grandchildren. I"ve been to Paris 9 times, twice with grandchildren and I've read Bringing Up Bébé from cover to cover. The American parents should all read it. While I've seen more than a few wild schoolchildren on field trips in Paris, on the whole, I've found the French children much calmer, and nicer to be around. The French spend more time with their children taking them to cultural events and museums and to parks and I've never seen the children glued to the electronic babysitters in restos. I'm sure there are exceptions but on the whole, if I have to be in a restaurant with children, I hope they are French!


You are of course right about children, and dogs, in France. But it is not just France - I've noticed the same phenomenon in the UK and Ireland, Switzerland, Spain and even Italy where children are treated like little princes. I think it is because European parents have high expectations of their children and consistently hold them to ever higher standards. It is my experience that children are almost always capable of much more than they are given credit for. In America most parents expect very little from the kids, in fact expect the worst from them. They are getting exactly what they are asking for.

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