Life Style

Children’s education: when real life challenges our principles

“Before I had principles, now I have children. “ Excessive, this formula nonetheless contains an element of wisdom. In fact, when the baby appears, especially the eldest of a sibling, many parents arm themselves with good resolutions, imagine being able to transmit the values ​​that are close to their hearts, the vision of the world that is dear to them. by adhering to a series of rules, by anticipating more or less consciously his education. Alas, or fortunately, life does not take long to remind them that in this matter, no pre-established strategy offers a guarantee of success.

→ MAINTENANCE. Children’s education: “There are no universally applicable principles”
“With my husband, we set a rule, so as not to make our children addicted to sugar: no candy during the week, just a few on Sundays”, tells Marie, in her thirties, met in a Parisian park. “But it turned out to be untenable. Because here, after school, friends often have a bunch of sweets and offer them some. Difficult to refuse systematically ”, sighs this mother, just as a friend comes forward handing a cookie to her eldest, 6 years old …

Same thing with screens: “At 3 years old, our second looks at them a lot more than his big brother at his age. When the eldest is in front of a cartoon, he is necessarily attracted ”, she notes, without excess of guilt: “I promised myself to be cooler than my parents, who perhaps clung a little too much to their principles. The TV, for example, had to stay off throughout Lent… We felt out of touch with our surroundings ”, she remembers.

→ READ. The unprecedented weight of parental expectations on their children

A compromise to be found between educational values

For parents, the constantly renewed challenge is to find a balance between the values ​​that drive them, the rules they believe to be fair, and the need to help their child find his place in his environment. An environment which sometimes weighs heavily on educational choices: “For fear of being looked down upon in the city, many parents who grew up in the neighborhood and, as teenagers, benefited from a relative diversity, today forbid their 15 or 16-year-old daughters to wear make-up and participate in activities with boys within our structure ”, notes with bitterness Gaëtan Vecchio, director of a social center in Folschviller, in the former mining basin of Moselle.

→ TESTIMONIALS. Education of children, rules to be constantly adjusted

This actor in popular education also observes to what extent the divergences in educational approaches can be a source of tensions within households. “In reconstituted families, for example, a reorganization of principles takes place: each one comes with its own rules to create new ones. But it happens that the two approaches collide, that the spouses camp on their positions, without letting the other say anything to his child. The intervention of social workers can then prove to be invaluable in finding a compromise acceptable to all. “

Disagreements over education also lead many parents to seek help from the marriage and family mediator Maylis Duffaut. “Even when we agree on the value to be transmitted, the difference in approaches to achieve it – being conciliatory or, on the contrary, inflexible – can lead to a sometimes disproportionate conflict”, she observes. To get out of it, the couple has to evolve, to create new ways of doing things. “This means taking into account the feelings of the other, sometimes going out of their comfort zone. And of course, which is not always the case, to prioritize the relationship over the attachment to principles. “

→ READ. In search of a benevolent authority


Moreover, with or without differences of opinion within the couple, the simple fact of having to relax certain rules or having to renounce them can prove to be painful for the parents. Maylis Duffaut, who worked for a long time for Cler-Amour et famille, takes the example of some of her five children who, now grown-ups or young adults, no longer wish to go to mass regularly.

“My husband and I sowed as best we could. Today, we try to inspire them by our way of life, by exemplarity. And hoping that all this path will help them to cultivate their interior garden and to make the right choices of studies, profession… At some point, you have to let go and trust, let the seeds germinate in them. “

In this long adventure of education, many parents sometimes feel a little lost. “My workshops bring together fathers and mothers who want to change their educational principles because theirs no longer work, but who do not know how to do it”, says Leila de Monclin-Rivet, parenting trainer.

Introduce a playful dimension

“I advise them to take inspiration from Tarzan, to move from vine to vine, always holding on to one of them. If we do not yet have an alternative, we will not let go of the principle we have applied so far. And we always try to associate benevolence with a framework. When you ask your child to brush their teeth, the main thing is not that they obey us in principle, but that they avoid cavities. And for that, we can associate it with the choice of a ritual or introduce a playful dimension. “

→ ANALYSIS. Are we educating future individualists?

The interest of workshops of this type is to allow parents to understand that they are not alone in encountering educational difficulties, far from the idyllic images sometimes conveyed by social networks. “And that even if they feel they are at an impasse, they can offer others certain practices that, in their family, work”, insists Leila de Monclin-Rivet.

To be a parent, in any case, is “To accept being pushed around, to also accept our imperfections, to learn from our mistakes, to admit that relevant benchmarks for the eldest will not work with the second, sums up Maylis Duffaut. Always asking yourself what is really essential. Basically, our children educate us as much as we educate them ”.


To read

Me I ! From education to individualism,

by Daniel Marcelli,

Albin Michel, 368 p., € 21.90

In this work, the child psychiatrist denounces the ravages of an individualism which abolishes any verticality and considers the child under the unique prism of his potentialities. While emphasizing the social dimension of the individual, the author warns against the dangers of an education which gives priority to the relationship with oneself, while neglecting the relationship with others.

Positive Discipline. In family and at school, how to educate with firmness and kindness,

by Jane Nelsen,

Le Toucan, 2012, 400 p., € 19.90

In this bestseller, adapted in French by Béatrice Sabaté, the American psychologist unfolds the principles of positive education. A movement which meets a phenomenal success as evidenced by the innumerable works which are devoted to it.

Hunter, gatherer, parent,

by Michaeleen Doucleff,

Leduc, 2021, 480 p., € 21.90

Faced with educational difficulties, the author, accustomed to reporting on the other side of the planet, goes to live with her three-year-old daughter in three communities, among the Mayas, the Inuit and the Hadzas, nomadic people of Tanzania. She discovered the virtues of certain traditional approaches to parenthood.

Michaeleen Doucleff promises to help us make our children “Responsible, adaptable and cooperative, like the Mayans”, “autonomous and self-confident, like the Hadzas” and capable of “Control their anger, like the Inuit”.


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