The French Smack Their Children! Star Column17.7.13

All my family live in France and have done so for many, many years. My nephews and nieces are French to their Gallic fingertips.

Well, we all know how the French tend to be a bit revolutionary when their government tries to do something they don’t like. Car burning in the streets, snakes of striked-up lorries clogging up the roads etc etc. Their Parisian waiters are certainly revolutionary, you just try and march off without leaving a tip, or for that matter even getting served without a sneer or a towering shrug of contempt?

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was in Paris with all the’ Zut Alors!’ Ruck clan, actually none of them are Rucks by name now, but indulge me. Now like it or not, the Frenchies do get some things right, particularly when it comes to dining with a monstrous brood of young ‘uns.

Rule of thumb, they eat first, adults later, in peace and quiet.

But here’s the thing. There is no fussing with the little ones. No outrageous namby- pambying and eyes that never leave trundling podgy legs. They are simply left to get on with it and if they fall down the stairs, tough. I’m serious. Even I am always a wee bit nervy at these two year olds climbing stools, swiping handfuls of grub etc etc

The parents? Well, theirs is to chat, drink and enjoy the food. If any objectionable urchin gets too close to the dining table then look out – the funny thing is, they never do get too close. They are just simply not allowed to.

When I mentioned the recent debate about child-smacking that is going on in the Welsh government, my French lot just looked at me as if I had lost the plot. Indeed, they laughed with tolerant mirth when I told them about it all.

It could only happen in the UK, they giggled. Let Hollande try that on with French parents, mon dieu, there would be another Bastille!

You know, maybe the French do have a point on these matters. Another thing, before French children can even talk they are taught ‘Bonjour’, ‘Au Revoir’ and ‘Merci’.

We could probably learn a thing or two here as well.



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