Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: In France, we try to raise our kids to behave and be polite in society, putting them in their place. I think in the United States, the focus is more on raising our kids to be excellent. That comes with a lot of pressure; on the other hand, American parents rarely humiliate their children and tell them they’re stupid. They try to develop the best kids they can.
My goal as a parent has been to take from the best of both worlds—teaching my kids manners but without humiliation so they can be well-mannered and polite and the best that they can be. As far as discipline, I never spanked, or even raised my voice much. I don’t think raising your voice does much of anything. I speak firmly, and I think it’s important to remember that someone has to be the boss at home—and better you than the kids.
When my children were toddlers, I used time-outs, but even better was ignoring bad behavior. I think the best strategy is to ignore bad behavior and praise good behavior; set limits and pick your battles.
—Nathalie Stern, MD, a mom of two and a French-born pediatrician practicing in New York City and in Southampton, NY