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The Post-American Child

- Abstract

There’s a new book out about how American parents should emulate the French, because the French are so much more relaxed about their children—let them cry themselves to sleep after only a few weeks, send them into day care without a second thought after a few months, and let them run around without supervision. They do insist their children eat salad, though, and that they sit quietly at table, and that they lie down when they are told to lie down. We Americans, it seems, are simply too overbearing, too neurotic, too involved in the lives of our children.

This is radically different advice from the last great parenting tome, Amy Chua’s best-selling self-portrait of a Chinese “tiger mother” who forced her children through sheer exertion of will to behave and excel and perform by being as annoyingly, monstrously overbearing as she possibly could be. Western parents are too inattentive, Chua writes; they need to ride their children hard and break them into the obedience to authority that will lead them to self-mastery and self-discipline.

About the Author

John Podhoretz is editor of COMMENTARY.