French Parents Are Superior. In Fact, Most Other Parents Are Better Than You Are.

Syndicated on

The author, back in the day,
messing-up her first kid
Dear New Parents,


How's it going? 

Feeling a bit tired? Maybe a little less spry these days what with the 2AM feedings or trying to keep up with a toddler whose main occupation seems to be trying to find new ways to turn your hair gray - licking outlets, hurtling themselves down stairs, not eating antioxidant rich foods?

Maybe you're feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Out of your league. Like you'll never get the hang of this parenting thing and the guilt is starting to seep in with more and more "Oh, what have I done?" moments. 

How can this be? You aced Calculus, 
run your own successful business, maybe you even know how to drive a stick.

And yet you can't quite get over the feeling that if there were a parenting pop quiz tomorrow during Gymboree class, the best you'd get might be a C+. B- if you had a venti cafe mocha and a Red Bull.

All other parents seem like they have it under control. Know what they are doing. Are even - dare you say it - better at this parenting thing than you are.

I'm going to save you some wondering:

They are.

Other parents are better.

They are better than you in all ways.

They are better at disciplining their kids, motivating their kids, and keeping their kids out of harm's way.

Their children will have more friends in school, lead more fulfilling lives, and never need therapy.

Their kids will rule. And it will all be because other parents were much better parents than you can ever hope to be.


It's a truth I learned too late to save my own kids. It took me 13 years on the Internet - reading parenting message boards, reading parenting books and magazine articles, then reading parenting blogs, and finally downloading the "Why Other Parents Are Better Than You" app - to understand completely all the ways I would never measure up.

It's been disheartening.

But more upsetting was the sheer length of the process of fully coming to terms with the fact that, well, I kinda suck.

I mean, compared to other parents.

Most recently, 
The French.

So, to spare you my time and effort in learning all the ways I could change - but probably won't - 

in order to be more awesome - but probably can't -

here is the definitive list of all the parents who are better than I am.

In no particular order.

  1. Strict Parents
  2. Laid Back Parents
  3. Urban Parents who give their kids access to lots of Culture and Street Smarts
  4. Parents in the suburbs who have Backyards, Good Schools, and Soccer Coaches From Brazil
  5. Country parents whose kids Learn Responsibility by Running Large Farm Equipment and Who Know Exactly What To Call The Chicken Hole That Eggs Come From
  6. Parents who vaccinate
  7. Parents who don't vaccinate
  8. Parents who keep a clean house and who carry hand sanitizer in order to keep their kids healthy
  9. Parents who allow their kids as much contact with germs as possible in order to build up their immune system and keep their kids healthy
  10. Breastfeeding parents
  11. Bottle feeding parents
  12. Religious parents
  13. Atheist parents
  14. Parents who don't know whether or not God can help them be better parents
  15. Conservative parents
  16. Liberal parents
  17. Anarchists
  18. Noam Chomsky
  19. Free Range parents
  20. Kiddie Leash parents
  21. Natural parents
  22. Hi-Tech parents
  23. Unplugged parents
  24. Parents who don't allow cell phones at the age you allowed your kids to have a cell phone
  25. Authoritarian parents
  26. Authoritative parents
  27. Positive parents
  28. Permissive parents
  29. Persuasive parents
  30. Mary Poppins parents
  31. Dr. Sears
  32. Dr. Brazelton
  33. Dr. Laura
  34. James Dobson
  35. "I Love Ezzo" parents
  36. "I Hate Ezzo" parents
  37. Younger parents
  38. Older parents
  39. Parents of only children
  40. Parents of two children
  41. Parents of many children
  42. The Cosbys
  43. The Brady Bunch
  44. The Waltons
  45. The Duggars
  46. Kramer (The Dad, not Kramer The Mother)
  47. Parents who pick up crying kids
  48. Parents who don't pick up crying kids
  49. Parents who co sleep
  50. Parents who don't co sleep
  51. Parents who spank
  52. Parents who don't spank
  53. Parents who care enough about their kids to send them to public school
  54. Parents who care enough about their kids to send them to private school
  55. Parents who care enough about their kids to  send them to homeschool 
  56. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally
  57. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally at home with help
  58. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally at home with no help
  59. Parents who birthed their kids vaginally with no help in a rain forest on the summer solstice
  60. Parents who didn't birth kids vaginally just because they like fancy groin scars
  61. Parents who didn't birth kids vaginally because they are men
  62. Parents-to-be who will never make any of the parenting mistakes you made
  63. Madonna and Angelina Jolie
  64. Straight parents
  65. Gay parents
  66. Married parents
  67. Single parents
  68. Sister-wife parents
  69. Parents with a high school diploma
  70. Parents with a college degree
  71. Parents with a graduate degree
  72. Parents with no book learning
  73. Parents who read parenting books
  74. Tiger Moms
  75. Russian Moms
  76. Scandinavian Moms
  77. Southern Moms
  78. Your Mother-In-Law
  79. Mother Teresa
  80. Martha Stewart
  81. Crafty Moms
  82. Parents who blog about their kids
  83. Parents who don't blog about their kids
  84. Parents who update all their kids' baby books
  85. Parents too busy parenting to update all their kids' baby books
  86. Uber Moms
  87. Type A Moms
  88. Good Enough Moms
  89. Slacker Moms
  90. Parents who take time for themselves
  91. Parents who get down on the floor and play with their kids
  92. Parents who get down on the floor and teach their kids
  93. Parents who teach their kids to put in flooring
  94. Parents who stay at home
  95. Parents who work at home
  96. Parents who work outside the home
  97. Parents who are at home outside
  98. Parents who let their kids drink from the garden hose outside
  99. Parents who let their kids eat Chicken McNuggets from the garden hose
  100. Parents who let their free range chickens hose down the house as one of their chores
  101. Parents who pay their free range chickens an allowance to hose down the house as one of their chores
  102. Parents of chickens
  103. Parents of Chuck Norris
  104. My Mom

I may have missed a few.

I'm kinda subpar at blogging definitive parenting lists.

But surely, that's enough to convince you that you'll never measure up, either.

So, you know...carry on.

Chances are that unless you are just really a complete jerk across several categories on a Venn diagram of types of jerks, your messed-up type of parenting is mediocre enough for your messed-up type of kid. 

Even messed-up, you know more than you think you do. Maybe.

Still, you'll never be as good as Dr. Spock.


Galit Breen said...

I'm speechless at the perfection of this post.

And oh my, yes- they are all definitely better.



D.B. Echo said...

Tiger Moms
Lion Moms
Bear Moms
Bear Dads
Bear Uncles who are like dads because dad is always off at work and he's starting to wonder if having a Bear Uncle take his place is causing his child to develop notions of normal male behavior that are not entirely in line with what he would prefer to present if, in fact, he were able to be a full-time dad to his kids and OH GOD he wishes he could quit his job to be with the kids full time but then who would be the breadwinner? HER? my GOD don't you realize how emasculating that is and maybe he should just embrace it and accept it and rethink his views on what is, in fact, normal male behavior...

WVW: horse. "Look, I see a horse."

Magpie said...

I love that at the very bottom there is an ad for "John and Debbie are looking", that is looking to adopt. I think they should read this! said...

Magpie, lol!

Yeeeeaaaahhhh...I've kind of slacked on this site and the random ads that pop up that could be slightly inappropriate flat out offensive. Gotta do something about that. Maybe tomorrow.

D.B.Echo - So-called "normal" male behavior will never win us another gold medal in men's figure skating. That's all I have to say on the subject.

Galit - Thanks! I may be worse than the French at parenting, but I'm only slightly worse than the Canadians when it comes to Mommyblogging. :-)

Carol S said...

This is the best blog post ever! Exactly what I needed after reading that ridiculous piece in the WSJ. Why do we torture ourselves by reading this stuff? "Say it with conviction" my arse. Thank you. said...

Lol! Thanks, Carol.

I still like picking up new ideas and tips on my own terms. I've kinda gotten too worn down to really feel too, too guilty about any of my less fantastic choices at this point.

However, I really dislike any fanning of any Parenting Wars, which really are mostly Mommy Wars. I honestly think that this kind of side-tracking has a direct effect on a lot of the social/cultural/educational/work-place challenges remaining for all women - moms or no - and I'd explain that thought more, but I'm going to bed now. Moms in France are already awake and making superior coffee right now.

Julia Magnusson (It's not like a cat...) said...

#105. Madame Halushki, who is hell funnier than you will ever be.

Julia Magnusson (It's not like a cat...) said...

(that's "you" as in "the rest of us." said...

Aw, thanks Julie! However, I don't think I can really claim "Funnier Than Most" Mom until Babble tells me so. ;-)

Rivki Silver said...

Hysterical! And very freeing. This was the perfect thing for me to read first thing in the morning. Now the pressure is off for the day. :)

Unknown said...

I love this list! lol Found it on Classy Chaos's Facebook wall.

I had to laugh really hard at Naom Chomsky (I hate celebrity following but he's one celeb I actually follow, I know, call me a nerd).

Oh, and I hate Ezzo parents.

And I have to agree with your comment to Carol. It's almost like a "divide and conquer" technique against all mothers, isn't it?

Chantelle said...

I love you.

That's all.

Trina said...

Fantastic post! Sharing it all over the web to the many parents I deal with daily.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that is so great. I am very careful stopping myself from Googling Ezzo parents, though. I don't want to know, right? said...


I'd just let it go. I just find that any time I find one kind of parent that makes me feel better about myself, there are four more ready to try to make me feel inadequate. Kind of like gray hairs. Except I'm letting my gray grow in, so I think I've lost the thread of the analogy there.

Anonymous said...

How inspiring!

Nichole said...

That pretty much sums it up, now doesn't it? ;)

Anne said...

The only category I would add to that list - and at the top, mind you - is wild animals. There are a lot of folks out there who should have just been eaten while their bones were still soft.

Oh, and I heart Noam Chomsky.

Homa T. said...

I am the "global mom" and loved this! Good enough > perfect and that's the secret sauce moms and dads around the world get - life is too precious and demanding to constantly be questioning our every move and trying to measure up to an idealized version of one culture over another. @growingupglobal said...

I agree about good enough, meaning "good mother for my kids, which is enough - I don't have to be good according to anyone else's definitions or culture, national or personal"

Sometimes, being a "good enough parent for my kids" means being strict and demanding in some areas - things that other people might think are trying to be "perfect parent" or "too hard" both on myself and my kids in comparison to another parent's definitions and needs.

Sometimes, "good enough parenting for my kids" means doing things which might seem overly permissive or slack - moving into the territory of "benign neglect" (I love the lexicon of parenting!) in an area which for another parent, might be something they are more demanding or strict about.

This is art as much as it is science.

I still put "Good Enough" parent on the list, because some people can be very insistent that their version of "Good Enough" is the correct version.

Which doesn't matter much to me. But I know some people still get grief for not being the right kind of "Good Enough" parent...ironically, lol. said...

Lol...I guess I just argued why my version of "Good Enough" is the correct one. I WIN THE GOLDEN TICKET!

deborah quinn said...

Okay I draw the line at Noam Chomsky. Everything else I believe to be absolutely true. EVERYONE and everything is doing it better - rocks may be better mothers. But Noam? Nah.

Submommy said...

Word. This is absolutely right in every way. I read that article on French parents being "superior" and threw up a little in my mouth. I want every so-called 'expert' to shut up. Just shut.....up. said...

Point taken, Deborah. I do find that after the breast v bottle debate - and possibly the circumcision debate - the Noam Chomsky v Not Noam Chomsky schools of parenting is a hard dividing line among most parents. :oD

I also didn't bring up the Mac v Windows Parenting debates. Just too hot for my small mommyblog.

Also, please no debates over what kinds of rocks make better parents. (Schist.) said...

Submommy - I hope you washed it down with a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc!

Also, yes...I don't mind reading statistics and data-based research and even hearing take-it-or-leave-it experience-based tips and ideas from other parents, but and science together. Kids aren't little identical electronic devices that just need a button-push to make the whirrr. Although, it would be handy at times. ;-)

Valerie said...

chuckled loudly...
seriously, sometimes I get annoyed with people who tell me "try this book, try that book" regarding my childs behavior... I've heard it all, and maybe my kids just having a bad day and nothing works ya know! if there were a right and only answer on how to raise children, it would have been discovered long ago and we would have world peace! every child, as well as every parent, is unique

Venus said...

I love you, that is all. Ok, that's not all. 'Cause it's just too creepy to leave there on its own. ;-) Great post! As a parent who will never be perfect, I thank you (and I add you to my list of parents who are better than I am.. I assume you'll reciprocally add me??). Heh.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Ugh, I don't even know who Ezzo is, so I'm probably screwing up my kid every which way to Sunday. said...

"Ugh, I don't even know who Ezzo is, so I'm probably screwing up my kid every which way to Sunday."

Congratulations and join the club! You'll receive your gold medal and bouffant hair-do instructions in the mail!

Julie Marsh said...

My parents always told me I wasn't good enough. This list proves it.

Inexplicably, I feel so much better now. said...

"Inexplicably, I feel so much better now."

I like this saying from The Little Zen Companion:

Barn's burnt down -- now I can see the moon.
~ Masahie

Julie, on some level, I think it sums up why you feel better.

On another level, all I can think about is my sister running around after all her barnless goats under a full moon. And I realize that I shouldn't be ruminating over parenting choices when there are goats to be caught.

Anonymous said...

Fairly Odd Mother, you don't WANT to know who Ezzo is! You're far better off seeking parenting advice from your female cat or dog than to go there! Simply said: kids have died and been hospitalized from it.

Colleen @AMadisonMom said...

Sigh. Now I have to add YOU to the list of parents who are better than me. said...

Colleen, lol...well, thank you for that compliment. :-) I'm about to eat a Pop Tart right now, if that makes any difference. :-)

Emily Guy Birken said...

Josette, this is fabulous! I have a terrible sleeper for a son, and I've started frothing at the mouth when (very very well meaning!) people will tell me that I just need to do X, Y or Z to get him to sleep. Because clearly I need to parent like other people do since they're better moms than I am. And while I know for certain that people aren't giving me advice because they think they're better than me, I still feel like we as a society need to stop viewing children as all being the same and parenting as all being the same. Three cheers for mediocrity! said...

Aw, Emily - I know, I know. Believe me, I know, lol.

I've learned so much from other parents, from books, my my mom and sister, from pediatricians, from just trying and failing and figuring it out on my own. I think if people waited until you actually said, "Hey, do you have any advice/thoughts/experience to share?" would solve so much of this.

I think a lot of people - even very confident parents - still at times feel a little on loose rocks, and so offering advice to someone else and seeing it help them sort of re-establishes in their own mind that, yes, I do know what I'm doing. Phew!

And you know, for real, I don't think any parent is mediocre (well...Tonya Harding's mom sounds a little out there). I'm pretty sure that anyone who finds any of this funny even a little bit is someone who at some point searched out their own process improvement and who checks in with themselves once in a while to make sure their parenting is in sync with *their* kid and *their* family life. And that's the best anyone can do.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that grandparents and in-laws are also better parents than you! Just ask 'em, they'll explain in detail why they're better

Stormy Seaworthy said...


Erin said...

This is too funny. Thank you for giving me such a laugh and for stopping by so I could find my way back to your site.

I also like what you said in your comment about not fanning the Mommy/Parenting Wars

tracy@sellabitmum said...

LOL - how very very true. Loved this.

Marinka said...

Love this list.

Signed, Kit Kat mom

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best blog posts I've read in a long time. Thanks for the laughs! Now, off to screw up my kids some more with my shoddy parenting. ;-D


Meredith said...


I stopped reading parenting books when my son was 3 months old, because I realized that the problem wasn't him, and it wasn't me. The problem was that no one had written a book called, "Meredith Lopez, Here Is Exactly How to Parent Your Baby."

S said...

loved this.

and man is that a beautiful picture of you.

Alexandra said...

Well mine are grown and gone, apparently supporting themselves because they never ask for money, and are proving the single parenting mantra that guided all my decisions:

"They can work it out in therapy when they're 40" said...

"They can work it out in therapy when they're 40"

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the title of the next big parenting fad book! :-)

anymommy said...

This is completely awesome.

Hannah said...

YES. Yes. YES!!

BlossomMom said...

Absolutely loved this Josette! You are hilarious :) Just shared it on Facebook so more people can read your fabulous piece :)

Anne H said...

Interesting post, I am so glad that I have visited your site. Thank you for useful information.

Anonymous said...

This is perfect! I loved it so much that I quoted you on my blog and linked to your page.

A "Just Trying to Maintain My Sanity" Mom

Janine Fitzpatrick said...

So very very true. Thanks for the laugh as I battle my insecurities in parenting.

Michelle, Queen Behind the Lens! said...

Completely and totally nailed it. So funny. So sad. So true!!!

Baby Gifts said...

and always another member of your family. Especially an older sister, she will definitely be a better parent that you

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