An assertively-titled essay on French schools and child-rearing that recently appeared on the blog Quartz is furthering the debate on the problem with US parenting.
Penned by a disillusioned mother freshly returned from France to her native US, “France’s simple solution to curbing helicopter parents makes life better for women” describes a world where kids get free schooling as soon as they are out of diapers; where all children who are in the system get free, high-quality lunches and the care of well-trained educators from 8:20am until 4:30pm; where all women are encouraged to focus on their own lives beyond the world of child-rearing. In short: the French school system.
In France, parental involvement in school is discouraged and moms and dads instead trust the state when it comes to education. Contrasting that world with what she found here in the US, author Emma-Kate Symons writes:
“[In the US] There are well-intentioned but constant invitations to take over the teacher’s role by giving classes on music and geography or hosting book-reading sessions. Add to that weekly events held after the morning bell: musical performances, fundraising drives, bake-offs, gardening bees, parent-teacher meetings held during working hours, weekly assemblies, class fundraising cocktails, schoolroom parties and frequent excursions.
If your offspring attends a good public elementary school, you will pay dearly for it with your time and money, if not your professional aspirations.
Of course, if you work full-time you cannot attend—but how does your kid feel when 80% of the other moms and a tiny smattering of dads turn up?”
Symons points to the well-publicized (here and here, for example) toll that helicopter parenting can take on a marriage. But she also highlights the way in which America’s short school days and demands on parent time in the classroom unfairly punishes parents who have no choice but to work long hours.
The solution, says Symons, is to get out of your kids’ classrooms and into advocacy for longer school days. Inspired? Read the whole essay here.