Generation Cedar

This was such an interesting piece. Especially as this article applauded the very behaviors that, in America, parents get ridiculed for and sometimes even punished.

Again, common sense for centuries now takes an expert to fill us all in on the best way to raise our children since Americans, apparently, have lost theirs.

“…why French children are not diagnosed with ADHD in anything like the numbers we are seeing in the United States….

From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means “frame” or “structure.” Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it.

French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sports practice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.” And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.

As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don’t need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.”

Read all of  Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD

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34 Responses

  1. I am sure my son would be diagnosed as ADHD if we had him tested. But we choose not to and have helped him instead with getting a healthy dose of fish oils and limiting distractions when he is working and needs to focus. It makes a big difference and I can tell when he hasn’t taken his fish oils for a while. I think the biggest problem America has is undisciplined children in the classroom. Children that were never taught how to respect authority fill the room and one teacher is expected to keep control. People shake their heads because we have four children, how can we possibly handle it? But one teacher is expected to handle 30?

  2. That was a good article. I’m glad to see the emphasis the French place on looking for the underlying causes of ADHD and other similar problems, and addressing the root causes of those issues rather than simply medicating with pharmaceuticals to mask symptoms. I hope that idea catches on here in the States more than it has.

    I own a book entitled The Kid-Friendly ADHD and Autism Cookbook, which addresses the nutritional aspect sometimes underlying those conditions. It is more than a book of recipes, as there is also a substantial (nearly 100 pages) section devoted to dietary information and how certain foods, additives and such can affect children’s functioning. There are also tips for parents on how to begin implementing a change in their children’s diet, if needed.

    That book, and the article you linked, Kelly, are good starts to seeing our children more holistically, focusing on treating underlying causes of their challenges instead of looking for quick fixes. Our children deserve better than getting a band-aid slapped on their problems in the hopes that that will make them “all better”, or less work for us.

    1. 6 Arrows, I have that one and “The Super Allergy Girl” cookbook, which is half information and half recipes (much like you described), and they are excellent on this topic.

    2. Thanks for the book recommendation, 6 Arrows! I need to check it out! I’m thinking we have more in common. 🙂

  3. “Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.” And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.”

    Hear, hear!

  4. I read the full article, as medicating children for ADHD makes me want to yell “STOP the madness!!!” French people also generally eat better than Americans in general… less preservatives and chemicals, non-gmo, raw milk/cheese, etc.

    1. “French people also generally eat better than Americans in general… less preservatives and chemicals, non-gmo, raw milk/cheese, etc.”

      France is the num­ber one user of pes­ti­cides in Europe by far, and sec­ond or third in the world. Agriculture accounts for about 90 per­cent of the pes­ti­cides used. The French suffer from extreme rates of cancers, infertility, and endocrine problems.

      Watch the documentary- it’s heartbreaking!

  5. What a great article. wow discipline!!! who knew!!! I think our government needs to read that. We know disciple or even self discipline which is taught by the parents makes for a better citizen. Eating meals at home. out with fast food. Yea for the French!!!!!
    Self discipline = family discipline = civic discipline = state discipline = federal discipline. Wow what a better America we would have if this one little fact was realized and acted upon.

    1. I wouldn’t be so quick to embrace the French way of doing things…. Breastfeeding is nearly unheard of… and baby wearing big taboo’s …. Mommy back to work at 12 weeks and the baby placed in State run daycare…. They actually are quite harsh and unyielding with their children… very “my way or the highway”. Not a lot of Biblical grace to be found in the parenting styles! The child has to just fit in to the parents lifestyle… I would say they are just less attached and in tune with their kids in general?!And hardly ever around them at all…. Makes it easier to tune out behavioral issues….. I read some of that book “Bringing up Bebe” when it first hit the market…. Completely worthless!

      1. Autumn,

        Since I haven’t personally been to France or observed their parenting, I can’t say one way or the other. I CAN say though, that the points the author brought out in the article are accurate–to the extent they are discussed.

        It may be that most American parents are too far on one end while French parents are too far on the other; but, sometimes, because of our jaded view of parenting from an American standpoint, we are appalled at a stricter view of parenting. But I am convinced, a child-centered style of parenting is devastating for all.

      2. Totally agree. I studied French and taught it before having children. I’ve been to France many times. There are many things I love about the culture, but I definitely don’t find it very baby friendly. Lowest rate of breastfeeding in the entire western world. Babies shipped off to government-run nurseries. I certainly agree with not diagnosing kids with ADHD and medicating them to achieve certain behaviors- that is a horrible medical abuse going on in too many parts of America. But, I wouldn’t be rushing to look at France (or anywhere in Europe) as a model for child rearing.

  6. It’s probably closely linked to the fact that 80% of French women return to work at 12 weeks and put their babies in the state run creche. Or the extremely low rates of breastfeeding.

    1. Your post doesn’t make sense. How do extremely low rates of breastfeeding, and women returning to work at 12 weeks and putting their babies in the state run creche lower ADHD rates? (I assume that’s what your “It’s” means in your first sentence.) Do you have facts to back up your assertions?

      1. How do spanking and witholding food reduce ADHD rates? But if you’re going to imply causality then to need to identify all the correlations.

        1. I’m sorry, but I’m not following where you’re going with your comments, Cissy. I asked you a question, but instead of answering it, you asked me a question about something I had not even talked about.

          And then this: “But if you’re going to imply causality then to need to identify all the correlations.” Who is the “you’re” to whom you refer? Is that comment in response to something I’ve said on this thread? Just curious.

  7. As parents of two sons with multiple labels between them (and rightfully so, not over diagnosis issues, which is a whole other issue plaguing our society), I have seen the ugly side of labelling. Get a label, drug a kid, happy parents and teachers. It disgusts me how quickly strong medications were offered to us before a prescription for therapy had been signed. My 9 month old was prescribed neurontin because he wouldn’t stop crying. Crying must equal pain therefore drug him with a powerful medication. Guess what we discovered when we found doctors that would look at causes? Allergies, severe allergies? Of course, when we look at the causes of the 4 A’s (Autism, Allergies, ADHD, and Aspeger’s) we see a lot of problems. Vaccines filled with toxins given at a very fast rate. Food filled with toxins and man made junk over fed to our children from a very young age. Moms not taking the time they need to really build a strong breastfeeding relationship with their infant, and a medical community saying it’s hard, just give this formula and it will be fine. Toxins in our homes and environment that are destroying our immune systems. The list goes on.

    I wasn’t like this before we had kids with issues. I was a die hard “yes, breast is best but bottle feeding is fine”, “you give vaccines on time, when the doctor says, and give Tylenol to make that fever that comes afterwards go away”, typical cleaning supplies are better because they save you money and that smell equals clean” Mom. Then I got a niggling in my brain about why my son went from having advanced speech to no speech within hours of a vaccine set. I said, “what if” and that was the rabbit hole in our lives.

    So I see it two-fold. We have GOT to start saying “no” to our children. We have got to set boundaries, set strong expectations, and then teach them how to meet those boundaries. We have got to stop friending our kids and start parenting them. We have to start living as God designed us to live as a family from God down to children. We have to model and teach daily and then there must be consequences when those honest and healthy expectations and rules aren’t met. Children crave that and need it. God works the same way with us, why would we change perfection? The world says be friends, God says be parents. I love my kids enough to parent them.

    Add in keeping our bodies healthy and whole from the things I listed above, and we would stop seeing these ridiculous rates of disorders and disease. The CDC now says 1 in 50 school age children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Genetic disorders (which is what mainstream society calls ASDs) do not have upswings like that, period. We are hurting our kids by not parenting them (many ADHD labeled kids need nothing more than a strong parent to love them) and by hurting their little bodies. As that old fitness guru used to say 20 years ago, “stop the madness”.

    By the way, I am not saying don’t vaccinate. I am just saying slow it down and clean them up and we don’t have to vaccinate for every little thing. Case in point, all US born babies go home after a few days, all have their Hepatitis B vaccine on board before they leave (unless opted out of). Many hospitals are creating a new guideline that this vaccine must be given within 6 hours of birth, which is often before a breastfeeding relationship has even really begun to help line the gut of the newborn baby.

    1. Very good thoughts, Kari, especially this: “We are hurting our kids by not parenting them (many ADHD labeled kids need nothing more than a strong parent to love them) and by hurting their little bodies.”

      I’m a former school teacher, and there was a young student I had, only about first grade, I think, labeled ADD, with persistent behavioral problems. There was one day I remember that he was causing so much trouble in my music class that I had to put him on detention. We teachers were required to call the parents when their children had been assigned detention.

      I reached the child’s mother by phone, and when I told her specifically why her son would be in detention after school the next day, she told me, “He has ADD, so he can’t be expected to remember what you tell him. You should research ADD so you understand it better.” Oh, and she also told me that he had told her everything about my class that day, and he didn’t do anything. I just about laughed out loud at her; he can’t remember what I just said 5 minutes before, but he can go home hours later and give an accurate recounting of everything that happened in class that day!

      This was the same kid that would ride his bike around town unattended until nearly dark, a tiny, very malnourished child with an extremely obese, do-nothing-but-make-excuses mother. So many of that boy’s problems would have been solved, I believe, if he had gotten from his mother the love and nourishment, both physical and emotional, that he needed.

    2. “…my son went from having advanced speech to no speech within hours of a vaccine set.” Kari, that’s all I could see while I read. I have a son who has never spoken true words, and I just felt such compassion for you when I read that sentence. Vaccines have not been good for my boys either, yet still, we get pressure from our doctor (more from the nurses). Thanks for all the excellent points in your comment!

  8. Prior to staying at home, I was an outpatient therapist, mainly with children. I can vouch for the lack of structure and discipline’s impact on a child’s ability to focus and maintain self-control. I would estimate that at least 80% of the children I met with an ADHD dx were from divorced families. OF that, at least half of those children hadn’t even met their father. They moved constantly, had a barrage of mother’s boyfriend come in and out of their lives, had boyfriend’s children come in and out, etc… It was a mess. Parents would expect to bring their child in and get a prescription, and most of the time it happened. I think the lack of stability and self-control further explains why children who have suffered from abuse and neglect have higher rates of ADHD, seeing as they often had even more instability. I often thought many of the symptoms of anxiety and ADHD were interchangeable in children, we just labeled them differently.

    Anyway, I know nothing of the French education system but wonder if they structure their classrooms the same as the US? I just think that they way the classroom structure is nowadays and with less recess as well, makes many children antsy anyways and distractable. The focus on testing and sitting in a chair all day would make me have an inability to concentrate.

  9. Sadly I completely disagree with this post. Let me explain…my aunt married a french man. He has extreme ADHD – even as an adult. My cousin also has ADHD as bad, or worse than his father. AND they know multiple french people (male & female) with ADHD. The thing is that they don’t push it like we do in the US. It isn’t a “common” diagnosis, but it does happen. And they definitely do NOT medicate for things like ADHD. When my cousin was diagnosed with it while they were living in Vietnam they spent a lot of time researching ADHD and tried to control it with his diet instead of medication. When that didn’t work they had no choice but to try medication, but did it in much smaller doses than what one of my kids was taking at the time. The DO focus more on the behavior modification aspect than medication.

    Also – someone earlier wrote that they don’t breastfeed – is DEAD WRONG – as they do and really embrace it! The french believe in breastfeeding so much that I felt like I was on display when I was around them while breastfeeding. They will all just sit there and watch like they were watching a movie. They had no problem just sitting there while I fed the baby and coming up to touch their heads and talk about how great it was that I chose to breast feed since I was an American and they had not seen many Americans that still did it!

    While I know that the small population of French I know is small I find it very hard to believe that with those that I do know – and what I have spoken with them about – that it is more common than not. And my uncle (and his family) know quite a few people. I spend hours & hours talking to them every chance I get and these topics are some that we touch on regularly. Many woman do not work – and believe in being home & raising their children, taking care of the house, being a help meet to their husbands.

    I have personally wish I lived in Europe (France in particular) due to them holding babies/children to such high regard. Child abuse – molestation – etc. just doesn’t happen there (well it does, just NO WHERE near like in America). Children are treated with such high regard. They tend to live more by the “it-takes-a-village-to-raise-a-child” philosophy and when an adult sees misbehavior from a child you can bet they will not only say something to the child, but will also make sure and inform the parents.

    But, yes they do run a much more structured household than most Americans. The children don’t snack. But they also have strong beliefs in things like families eating together – and in many cases living together as extended families with many generations in the same house (or on the same land in close by houses). They also have a lower amount of alcoholics….despite drinking wine with almost every meal…even children/teens.

  10. Have you ever read the books, Anatomy of an Epidemic or Mad America? The author reveals how in America psychopharmaceuticals cause more problems than they help. In general, Europeans make more use of therapy and family counseling with much better results. I’ve even spoken to adults who believe that being put on Ritalin as a child is what started them on the path to illegal drug use later.

    1. I totally agree with the statement “being put on Ritalin as a child is what started them on the path to illegal drug use later”. From my personal experience my 2nd oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD & ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) when he was in 3rd grade. After 2 school years of teachers complaining and “advising” me about his “problems” at school and how they all believed he had ADHD, I finally gave in to the pressure and had him tested and then began behavior modification (because I didn’t want to give him the meds they thought he should have). When behavior modification didn’t do the trick fast enough for the teachers…and I got fed up with being called to the school EVERYDAY I finally gave in and got him the meds. It began a roller coaster. They have to keep fiddling with the amounts to get it *right* and then once they do we discovered that he was unable to sleep at night due to the meds. Which just led to them prescribing another medication that would help him sleep. Then after I pulled him out of school to home school I took him slowly off the medication, but once he was done I failed to get rid of remainder of the pills that were left. My DH came up to me one day asking about our son’s behavior. I hadn’t noticed anything, but once he said something I started paying close attention…and my son looked like he was drunk or high. At that point I went to find the pills and counted them only to see that some were missing. Still being the idiot I am I didn’t throw them out but put them somewhere else (in my cookbook cabinet behind a bunch of books). Then another day the same thing happened – only this time I was the one that noticed the odd behavior of my son. My DH went to get the bottle and counted only to discover that once again we had missing pills. My son had obviously went looking in search of them! At this point we sat our son down once again & talked to him. He flat out told us that it made him feel good…I shuddered at this admission. My DH, on the other hand, walked out front of our house, dumped the pills on the ground, stomped them to dust, and then sprayed the hose on it to wash it away.

      Both my DH & I are recovering alcoholic and drug abusers. We come from families with problems in both areas. We try harder than many parents to impress upon our children to not every even try them because with the family history they are not going to be able to just walk away from them like some people can. We know they’ll end up in a very bad place. I can’t even begin to tell you the guilt I felt when this happened. Guilt from not throwing them out initially, guilt from not throwing them out when we caught him the first time, and then guilt that I ever put him on the drugs in the first place.

      I really wish people would work on behavior modification consistently from the very early years and I guarantee that even if their child does show signs of ADHD that the behavior modification (if taught from the beginning) will be enough to keep them on track. And I have 3 boys with extreme forms of it – my DH has it (has never medicated for it) – and both of our girls shows minor signs of it. Thankfully I have already been working with them because once you learn behavior modification for one child it just seems to flow to how you deal with the rest of your children. Thank God for that.

      1. Erica,

        Please don’t beat yourself up! You are very obviously an involved and concerned parent. I have watched my sister lose all three of her children because of drug and alcohol abuse. Now, two of them are grown adults and one is 11. She is just now rebuilding her relationships with them after being sober for 10 months. Press on, Erica! You are fighting a spiritual battle. Continue to be the warrior mom you are being for your children. Allow only conviction from the Lord, not guilt from Satan, to motivate you. Praying for you now. Claudia

        1. Thank Cluadia. That was very kind of you to say. I do beat myself up with guilt. I am bad about that. It’s especially bad when it relates to a situation I myself went through since I know firsthand all about it. I let myself feel like because I’ve been there I should be able to stop it from happening to my kids. I know I can’t. Realistically. But, you’re right I let Satan work on me. I do need to work on turning it over to God and really letting go for good. (I have that bad habit of giving something to Him & then yanking it back!) Thank you for your prayers – very much needed and HUGELY appreciated!

  11. It is really about culture, and when you live in the USA, which has a new culture and basically none, it is very difficult to raise children with the model of an French or other world culture, I am French, raised 2 sons here in the USA, and it is very hard, the US culture is very perversive, fun based and shallow, you need to be in France if if want the French model, only then with the traditional support of family etc ,will you have a chance, Saying NO to a kid here seems abusive and stopping a kid from having experiences, BS really, however Youth does well here if it stays here,a gated situation, but very poorly overseas………..

  12. The article is ill-informed and wrong in so many ways. It makes me heartsick that so many people are lauding it when it is not laudable. ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, and the best parenting in the world won’t cure it.

    1. Virginia,

      I don’t dismiss the rare cases of true ADHD but when a diagnosis has increased so astronomically over the last 10 years it should give us grave concern. Also, many, many children diagnosed exhibit normal behavior that simply doesn’t comply with an unnatural classroom setting. That should outrage us as we realize how many children are being drugged for being normal. The fact that boys are 3 times likely to be diagnosed should be serious red flags. The lines may be blurred a bit, but there is too much evidence for gross error when it comes to our understanding of ADHD.

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