Litlove cheated… She tagged me for her parenting meme, even though I’m not a parent yet and she knows I rarely do memes, especially outside the literary sphere… But anyway, I’m doing my best to indulge her curiosity, even when I have no clue what to answer!
How do you view your role as a parent? What are you there to do?
For the moment, let him grow as long as possible in a cozy environment inside my belly, until he’ll find it much too small! Erh, when he’ll be born, for the moment I don’t see much further than the basic needs… milk, dry nappies, a bath and a crib, do I forget anything? I’m not even that confident in my ability to keep him safe and healthy… but I trust him to remind me (however not clearly) if I forget anything important.
In your social circle, are mothers expected to work or are they encouraged to stay home with the child?
Without any doubt, work. It doesn’t go without a dose of guilt and envy for those who can afford not to, but in large French cities… even nannies have their own childcare system to let them work. Everybody finds it awfully hard to juggle between job, childcare… all the more as it’s stressful and expensive, but nobody wants to leave a job because baby pause (any longer than a few months) is frowned upon and you’re never sure if you’ll be able to land any job at all later on… On the other hand, employers certainly aren’t generous in terms of opportunities and advancement for young mothers, but they’re tolerant with hours and we’re blessed with truly generous holiday benefits…
How do you feel about your child’s education? What’s good about it, and what do you wish could be done differently?
Sorry, no clue yet. I don’t want to set too high expectations for the moment, but one thing important in our family is to share responsibilities and ideally to let the child take his own share of responsibilities depending on his abilities/age.
How do you share the childcare with your partner (if it is shared)? Do you tend towards different activities or different approaches to parenting?
We’re right now in full-blown negotiations to share the childcare daily organization from September on when I’ll go back to work. One of us is going to do mornings and the other evenings, depending more on workplace tolerance than on affinities really. Mr. Smithereens is trying to impose more modern views in a traditional male-oriented workplace… we’ll see how it goes.
What are the most important virtues to instill in a child?
Erh… sleep reasonable hours at night??
What’s the relationship like between mothers at the park and the school gate? Would someone you didn’t know help you out in a stressful moment?
In a big city, making contact with those mothers can be tricky in the first place. (French people especially Parisians aren’t well known for being spontaneously open to strangers, are they?). The other family we’re arranging a shared-time nanny with will probably be very important for us at the beginning. Scolding another person’s child is definitely a no-no in France but there will be a lot of staring at the mother.
What do you fear most for your child?
Accidents and illness most.
How do you discipline your child and what are the errors you would put most effort into correcting?
Have you ever tried to discipline an unborn child? He doesn’t even listen to me when I try to make him stop kicking my ribs!? I hope I’ll be more successful in the years to come…
Do you think the life of a child has changed much since you were young?
Probably yes. Parents seem (to me) less carefree and more stressed out, more aware of competition and more result-oriented in terms of education. School has become a very complicated system to navigate into, and there is a strong pressure to always do more (after-school lessons and activities flourish…)
What’s the best compliment your child could pay you for your parenting skills?
I guess I’d like a “thank you” at some point in the next 30 years but I guess it’s a lot to expect.