When I first read the essay in the WSJ, I thought, "Hey, I must be French!" because this is the type of parenting I practice. We have an adult-centered household. I must say it's a challenge to parent like this in the US because people think you're selfish for not playing with your kids or jumping when they say jump so I can understand why some parents give in to cultural norms.
However, I don't think this style of parenting is uniquely French. Once upon a time, most American parents practiced it, too, and the households I know with well-behaved kids still do. And it's certainly not the only way to raise well-adjusted kids with nice manners. It's just the one that happens to work best with my temperament.
One benefit the WSJ article did not mention--perhaps the book does--is that siblings tend to get along better with one another because they're not competing for your attention as much. They also tend to discover reading as an antidote to boredom.
Whenever the kids would say they were bored, we used to pretend to get all excited and say, "Yay! You're on the edge of a creative breakthrough! Quick, go find a cure for cancer before the moment passes!" or something like that.
So far what has stood out for me is this:
The truth may be out there but lies are in your head. Terry Pratchett
Yep, and it's more than perfect attendance awards. Kids today are growing up without consequences for their actions, teachers are afraid to discipline and set boundaries and so are some parents for that matter... My middle kid struggles in school and a few months ago she missed an assignment deadline, I found out about it on the school site that reports her grades. DH and I took up the problem with school and asked them what consequences kids in general get for missed work, there are none. School detention has been replaced with homework help after school if the kids want it, but it's completely voluntary. Kids get pushed through the system too unless a parent speaks up. I am still haunted by the punishment in the schools when I was there and I do think that was a kind of discipline because you knew what was expected of you. That doesn't exist a lot today IME.
DIscipline as in to follow, learn from a mentor.
The French family I lived with in Paris in