By Lorianne S. Riley
Images © Discovery Museum, www.baykidsmuseum.org
Every once in awhile it will come up in the media about how mannerly European kids are in comparison to American children. I never have given this notion much thought until I vacationed in France.
One thing I did notice is that in France the culture surrounding kids is much different then ours. There are kids everywhere. If France was going to take over the world it would be because of the sheer numbers. Procreating is a huge part of the French culture. There truly is children everywhere. The funny thing was that I didn’t notice this because the children were unbehaved. They where wonderful.
Parents in France take their children with them everywhere at all times of the day and night and to all types of venues. So, maybe because they are exposed to so many different types of social stimuli early on the children of France know how to behave in public without acting up. French people would be pushing strollers very late at night after enjoying a dinner out. An early dinner is 7pm in France. So, it was not unusual to see a family walking about at midnight caring their sleeping children while rolling a stroller with a baby in it. I never once saw a fussy child.
Also, I noticed in every town and city we visited the playgrounds were on steroids. It was almost like there was amusement parks in the middle of every towns center. I thought what a great idea! The playgrounds were very elaborate, making it fun for family time and for kids to interact with other kids. There was all kinds of activities for kids to spend their energy on. Maybe this is why the kids were so good and not cranky. I know that the parks were so enticing that I wanted to play on the rides myself.
I think in the United States everyone is so afraid to let there children play outside unsupervised, because it no longer seems safe. In America we do have parks, but the elaberate ones are expensive and are in cities few and far between. So, kids end up indoors playing video games or on their computers at a very young age! If the United States had more outdoor activities where kids could run around to expend all of their cooped up energy maybe they would be a little more well adjusted, fit and have better social skills.
I say hats off to France for having the foresight to have family and children activities so readily available to their citizens.