For Real: This Is How the French Make Parenting Look So Effortless

Updated 07/26/17
a mother and daughter in front of an home front door

It's undeniable that there are very clear differences in the way that French and American parents raise their children. Stereotypically, they seem to grow into effortlessly cool adults with a stylish approach to everything; it's no wonder we're intrigued with the seemingly "superior" French rule book to parenting. But as it turns out, it's much more than their culture that contributes to their je ne sais quoi.

We all know that companies and governments in Europe have more progressive perks for employees and citizens than in the U.S., and those institutional benefits play a major role in alleviating many of the pressures that French parents face, according to Quartz. Compared to the American government's approach to family benefits (like its lack of federally mandated parental leave, as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg points out), the French have put policies and benefits into place that support parents and encourage its citizens to have more children.

Here are the reasons the French make parenting look so effortless.

They get a minimum of four months of parental leave. Contrary to U.S. mothers (many of whom rely on unpaid disability to extend their maternity leave), French women receive 16 full weeks of paid leave for their first and second child and 26 weeks (or a little over 6 months) for their third child. The government also grants mothers an income-based allowance that can be spent toward a nanny.

Speaking of childcare, it's affordable and accessible for all French women. France offers crèches, or high-quality care centers, for babies as young as six weeks old, making work/life balance much easier for French mothers to achieve. While there are often waiting lists, it's worth noting that these centers are well regulated and have well-paid staff, and parents pay sliding fees based on their income.

Children begin school at age 3. In France, there are three years of preschool and one year of kindergarten—all of which are free. What's more, is that school doesn't end at 3 p.m., and affordable part-time childcare is available up until 6:30 p.m., making it easier for parents to return to work.

Head over to Quartz for more on French parenting, and share your thoughts on their benefits with us.

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