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French Twist: An American Mom's Experiment in Parisian Parenting Paperback – Deckle Edge, Mar 12 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (March 12 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345533267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345533265
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.7 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #370,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Advance praise for French Twist
“Presented with a touch of humor and spot-on descriptions of childhood (mis)behavior, the advice, which touches on such topics as breastfeeding and school participation, is practical and useful. A refreshing approach to raising children.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] charming and clever parenting chronicle . . . Though some may prefer their naughty kids just the way they are, this breezy, entertaining study of parenting a la Paris may prompt others to pour a café au lait and rethink their strategies.”—Publishers Weekly
French Twist describes an open-minded experiment in French-style parenting (though apparently there’s not even a French word for parenting!) and reveals itself as an honest examination of the author’s own missteps and prejudices—which we all can relate to—and the whole overparenting trend in this country. Are Catherine Crawford’s conclusions ‘French’? Who cares? They’re immensely logical and rational, and delivered with an abundance of love.”—Muffy Mead-Ferro, author of Confessions of a Slacker Mom
“Ever seen a French child throw a tantrum in a restaurant or talk back to his parents? Neither has Catherine Crawford. In French Twist she uncovers the secrets of French child-rearing—and then tries them out on her own family, with remarkable results. Part memoir, part instruction manual, French Twist is hilarious, honest, and incredibly useful.”—Lori Leibovich, executive lifestyle editor of The Huffington Post
“Catherine Crawford has written a great parenting book. I can’t wait to have kids and apply all I have learned here. Wait—hold on. I’m being told I already have two kids. This is incredible news! I will begin applying immediately.”—Adam Scott, actor, Parks and Recreation

About the Author

Catherine Crawford is a contributor to Droolicious on, and the parenting website What They Play, where she conceived of and has written the Mothership column. She has appeared on CBS and Fox to discuss issues related to balancing work and motherhood. She lives with her husband, writer Mac Montandon, and their two children in Brooklyn.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa86badb0) out of 5 stars 82 reviews
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa84172a8) out of 5 stars This French Twist is Last Generation's Common Sense Jan. 31 2013
By Terri Rice - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
"As a mother with two young daughters in a trendy urban neighborhood, hedged in by hordes of other trendy urban families, I often feel a keen sense of bafflement at what I see going on with the procreators in the midst. So, at the risk of being a traitor to my generation, I have to say: I don't know when or how it happened, but it's clear to me that , even as we have tried harder than any of our ancestors to mentor, please, and encourage our kids, we have completely lost control of them, and in the process we've lost control of our own lives as well. And it isn't pretty. How ugly is it? Three words: baby yoga pants."

"I have absolute certainty that, thirty-some-odd years ago, my mother didn't pick me up from school laden with four snack choices to ensure my satisfaction (and avoid a meltdown) and that she didn't put in a lot of time worrying that she wasn't being the best mom she could possibly be."

Catherine Crawford is right and I am that mom from days gone by!

This book is just packed with what used to be considered common flippin' sense and it is just a wonder that in a single generation mothers have reduced themselves to trying to be the best doormat possible to their children. Crawford humorously helps the mother who wants help with gaining back a little respect, dignity and relaxation in the world of mothering. I know it's way cooler to say this is French parenting techniques but for real this is last generation's common sense. But hey, if a few moms are willing to take a fraction of what this book has to offer and put it to work, well, you just call it any old thing you want.

On the issue of being your kids' best friend: "Your job is not to be their friend. That does not work with children. You need to be their mom and teach them well." And she goes on to say that the French women she sees doing this "appear to have wonderful relationships with their adult daughters."

And as far as letting the children of the house make all the decisions about what they wear, what their snack will be, etc: "As parents, our job is not only to give them a good sense of morals but also to teach them how to do things correctly- from getting dressed to eating properly, to respecting adults, and everything in between."

That whole idea of doling out treats for every little bit of common decency and good behavior? "I'd fallen into a habit with my own kids that involved a lot of rewards. Somewhere I had read something about always focusing on the positive and not constantly pointing out bad behavior. Quaint in theory, but kids are smart and , in practice, I had put a huge target on myself that read, "Manipulate me." We got to the point where my girls thought that if they made it through a long subway ride or dinner out without causing some sort of havoc, they were, ergo,entitled to a prize. I'll never forget when Oona and Daphne sat through Horton Hears a Who! (a KIDS' MOVIE- not my first choice, if you catch my drift) and asked me what they could pick out for being good in the theater. This was one of those pivotal moments when I knew things had to change."

Catherine Crawford touches on pretty much every area of child raising that I have seen go to the dogs in this generation of mothers- and sanely and practically gives examples and advice to turn your life back around so that being with your own children can be the joy that it should be.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa841624c) out of 5 stars probably not the book you are expecting Feb. 3 2013
By mikemac9 - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
On the cover this book promised to tell about "An American Mom's Experiment in Parisian Parenting". While I did find the book interesting, the truth is somewhat less than promised. Written in a humorous style, at times bordering on sardonic, the book explores the differences between French and American parenting styles and overall culture. In researching the book the author turned to her French friends Brooklyn, and in addition set up interviews with French natives.

Its going to be impossible to replicate French parenting in the USA because a lot of the support structure is simply not there. For example, school lunches and the importance of food differs between the two countries. This leads to a real strength of this book, systematically exploring differences in practices and expectations at the table, with friends, with toys, with bedtime, the list goes on and on. But while the author did take steps to move in the French direction, at times the effort seemed half-hearted in areas where there seems to be little impediment to adopting the full practice. An example would be where she discusses putting the kids to bed.

Published last year was a book in which a family made a genuine attempt to embrace the French style, arising out of moving to a small village in France. That book, "French Kids Eat Everything", would be a better choice for those wanting to put adopt more of a French lifestyle at home. You lose some of the humor, but you get an explanation of how a family really tried to make it work. On the other hand if you just want to learn what some of the cultural differences between the two countries are then this book will serve fine for that purpose.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa89a9588) out of 5 stars Useful but who would want to be Daphne? April 3 2013
By Gracie - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The author has two daughters. The eldest Oona is Edith Wharton. The youngest Daphne is Jim Belushi. What a great way to label your kids. And lest you think this is an incidental observation, the author spends much of the book lamenting various aspects of Daphne's personality and behavior. All I can say is poor Daphne.

The author stumbles across the fact that French parents (and we all know that every single person from one country are exactly the same) don't raise entitled little monsters. And she notices that her children are entitled little monsters (especially Daphne- Darn you Daphne). She begins sifting through French parenting techniques looking for the answers. Despite the author bringing up France, French, and "frenchies" on every page there is nothing particularly French about this parenting style. It may seem a grand revelation to the Sanctimommies of Park Slope but basically, it's common sense.

Interestingly enough the author mentions her own upbringing (one of 13 kids!) without seeing what is really obvious to the reader- she ought to call her mother for advice. The author has an unabated passion for all things French (did you know that French children speak French? Too Cute!). But there is no way that her mother was putting kids in 4 sports. There is no way that her mother was making a separate dinner for each kid. Objecting to poor parenting is not being French. It's being a grown up.

So if you have kids that are expected to eat what they are served, have chores, are not allowed to be rude to adults and can sit through a dinner- this is not the book for you. If you have kids that can't do those things, find the calmest cheerfullest mother that you know and ask what she knows. You could even call your own mom, grandma, aunt or whoever. This cult of the child is a pretty new invention. There are people who remember what we did before this.

But if you are far too fashionable to call your mom and your kids are little monsters- please buy this book. It's not particularly French but I would still prefer it if your little Madeline and Liam could sit quietly the next time I am in a restaurant.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7681a50) out of 5 stars Refreshing and wise May 23 2013
By MissPammy - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Having been a French major in college and studied abroad in France one summer, I was already intrigued about the French way of raising children before I even saw this book. In France, children do not have public tantrums like American children do here. Remember the last time you heard a child wailing and kicking his or her feet at the grocery store because he/she could not have the toy or candy that he/she wanted? Have you seen rude children, obnoxious children, disrespectful children, and children oblivious to the niceties of real civilization? These were all American children, I'm willing to bet. Only in America are children given the reins while parents take a back seat. In France, there is none of this. This book was a delightful reminder of the well-mannered children I saw in France, and yet also a reminder that despite their manners, French children are also spunky. That's because the French do not concern themselves with the ridiculous and trivial concerns that American parents weight themselves down with. They focus on teaching their children how to live a good life. I have to say, I enjoyed this book from cover to cover, and I would recommend it to every American parent. In fact, they should hand these out to parents as they leave the hospital with their firstborn child. Not only would we all have happier children, our entire society would be set upright again from its current dizzy whirling. I believe children should be equipped to live life well, and this kind of parenting accomplishes that without leaving them neurotic.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7dd5288) out of 5 stars Hilarious, smart and fabulous May 11 2013
By 319 - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The author, Catherine Crawford, has written this book after observing (both in France and among her French friends) how well behaved French children are. She began to really pay attention to her French friends' parenting styles and asking questions about typical child rearing in France. This book doesn't bash Americans in anyway, rather it delves into the methods (and attitudes) used by the French that yield such dramatically different results. I am the American parent that Ms.Crawford is writing about and having fallen short of my own (very high) expectations to be the "perfect mother", I've spent too much energy feeling guilty and frustrated. French parents don't experience these feelings because they have such a different (and in my opinion, very healthy) attitude about parenting. This book is eye opening and inspiring. And while I may not agree with every single method used, there is definitely some valuable insight that almost every parent can learn from. Maybe for some parents the advice in this book is just common sense, but for those of us who have read every parenting book, magazine, blog trying to absorb an overload of information that now we are left in an overwhelming fog of advice, this book is truly helpful. This is hands down my favorite parenting book that I've ever read. Ms. Crawford writes with so much humor and I was laughing so hard while reading this book that my son kept asking me what was so funny. I really love this book and I highly recommend it!