So there’s obviously a reason that Americans and the French don’t quite click right away and we get these stereotypes of the French being cold and Americans being obnoxious. And, of course, it all starts with the typical American mom and the typical French mom.
Picture an American mom going to the park with her child, she’s probably wearing her yoga pants and lulu lemon jacket, while her baby is wearing bright colors (obviously never black or grey, why would you put depressing colors on a happy baby?). The stroller has the newest, greatest safety mechanisms with a 5 point seat belt for the child so he doesn’t bounce around too much when the stroller hits cracks in the pavement, as well as lots of things the baby can play with and spots for mom to put her Starbucks. They get to the park, she takes him out of the stroller and says things like “we’re here! oh we are going to have so much fun! you can play over there and over there and over there and just have fun! I’ll be watching you and taking pictures for daddy!” So the child starts playing and after a little while he falls and comes back crying to his mom, who immediately says something like “oh sweetie it’ll be ok!” and magically kisses the pain away, then sends the child back out to play because they have to leave on a ‘good note’ – he has to be having fun when they leave, they can’t leave when he’s upset over falling.
So now let’s look at the French mom. She’s pushing a stroller, potentially smoking, wearing normal clothes for women – aka has gotten back into her skinny jeans and is wearing an outfit to compliment the fact that she is a woman. When a French woman becomes a mother, she still remains a woman, while when an American woman becomes a mom, she has to become Supermom! and loses the sexy side of her womanhood.
So anyway, she’s dressed well, maybe a little sexy, and her child is wearing an outfit – not necessarily conducive to running and jumping and playing like American clothing for children is. When they get to the park, the mom undoes the seat belt (which was just for show anyway) and says to the child, “we’re here. You can play there but not there, over there is for kids bigger than you and you will fall if you play there. I will be here watching you.” (note: watching them to make sure they don’t do something wrong, not watching taking pictures for daddy or grandma.) So the kid plays and goes over to the big kid area and falls. When he comes back to mom crying, she says something along the lines of, “mom was right, huh?” or “I told you so” and waits for acknowledgement from the child that she, obviously, knew best. After that has been established she will take care of cleaning/bandaging whatever needs to be done. If the child keeps crying and making a scene, she will first make him sit and calm down. If that doesn’t work, they go home because it is entirely inappropriate for the child to be crying in public.
In France, children bend to the adults’ world. In America, adults bend to children’s needs. (AKA toys for kids to play with in stores/restaurants, it being inappropriate for a salesperson or waiter to ask a customer to leave because of the noise their child is making, etc.)
So based on these childhoods, they compare Americans to peaches
& French to coconuts
Americans always feel the pressure to be outgoing, outwardly happy, welcoming, and always having fun, whereas the French are more reserved and tell it like it is. e.g. France has excellent customer service – for the French. They don’t want a waitperson to come over all “Hello!! My name is Meghan and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Our specials are…… and I really love the ……… and please let me know if I can help you in any way!!” They want them to simply take the order, bring the food, and leave until the check needs to be paid. They would hate that person returning every 5 minutes to make sure they are doing absolutely A-O.K.
Americans tend to have a lot of surface friends; we meet people and within 5 minutes of talking add them on facebook and like their statuses, but we have very few close, close friends. We find it easy to communicate with people on the surface level (like how a peach is soft on the outside), but find it difficult to talk about personal matters and get emotionally close to people.
The French have very few surface friends. Because they are colder and more reserved on the outside, they find no enjoyment in hanging out with lots of people they don’t know well, whereas once they do become friends with someone, they are friends for life – you know, because they’re all soft and milky on the inside.
One final distinction is the fact that the French have a little ‘m’ and a big “M” looking out for them – their biological family(/mother), as well as the government. Because the French government is so involved in its people’s lives, the French feel much more secure with maybe not getting a job right after school and moving home with the parents instead – hell they don’t have $100,000 of student loans to pay off so why not? There is not at all the same stigma here about losing a job or moving back in with the family, they don’t always have to be moving forward and achieving things in their career to feel content and successful.
So yeah, this is totally not as well explained as it was to me but maybe this will help you as it did me in understanding the French and why peaches and coconuts don’t always brush up against each other without some bumps & bruises..