Have you heard of RIE? I have, and it made me think, “Oh look, another parenting fad.” 

How we do love our fads, particularly when it comes to really important things like our minds and bodies. You know, things that don’t require any continuity to experience palpable change?

I was amused when the US jumped on the French parenting bandwagon. I was raised in the French style (despite predominantly growing up in New York City) but mostly it was never deemed a parenting philosophy until we Americans got a hold of it. I don’t ever hear my French friends sit around and talk about the merits of different parenting approaches in different countries.

“Oh lala, deed you reed ze article on (h)olland chill-dren so nice? Mébee wee stop wis ze brie and geeve zem le goudaa instead?”

But we are fickle, and the French method is already rancid like a day old baguette. Now RIE is taking the new celebrity spotlight. Of course, I couldn’t help reading the RIE article when it popped up in my feed this morning. It’s like slowing down while passing a road accident, I couldn’t look away. I really don’t want to know, but then I just can’t seem to keep my eyes off the gruesome details.

Much to my surprise, I got a sense of deja vu with RIE. It took me ages to remember and when I did – boy did I cringe! Does the Celestine Prophecy ring any bells? Remember back in 1993 when we were all trying to read each other’s auras? I’ll admit I bit hook, line, and sinker, but I was also 19, and in desperate need of escapism from a pretty horrid reality.

I jumped in, ready for my Celestine awakening, until I got to the part with a female character and her child. At the time, I didn’t have kids but the common sense approach my parents had used on me must have made an impact. I balked at the way this character was raising her child. And I now see she was using a RIE approach! No baby talk, treat child like an adult, no singing and rocking. This isn’t new at all. In truth, a little research tells us it was started by a Hungarian who studied at la Sorbonne – but hey it isn’t real ’til celebrities adopt it!

I know little about the original founder and no doubt in its origin, it probably has sound components but once these things make their way across the Oceans, and into Hollywood, they usually take on absurd qualities. The article I read made it sound like something out of the nutritionally and carb deprived brain of a Paltrow-esque character. No doubt we will be reading about RIE on goop soon. <Sigh>.

Folks, I am not a hater, really I am not. I just find myself in despair on behalf of the children. Stop worrying about being the best, being perfect, choosing the right way. I’ve got some news for you. There isn’t a RIGHT way.

Parenting is actually super easy if we just let it be. In a few words: Provide, shelter and food. Make sure they get enough sleep —If that means you need to sing Kumbaya all night while rocking a crying baby in a hemp hammock if that’s what keeps your family sane, happy, and rested. Then good for you! If it means shutting the door and letting the child cry it out for a bit while you wear noise cancelling earphones and with a large glass of single malt. That works too.

Love your kids and show it by engaging in play and talk -but geez not all the time. You need space and they need space. And please, for everyone’s benefits remember B.A.G. or Boundaries Are Good! I don’t care what they are, just be consistent and everyone will be much happier.

Figure out what works for your kid and you, and stick to it. We are not all the same. Kids are not all the same. What kids need to see is that you know what you are doing – even if that means faking it til you make it. The path doesn’t matter. Just stay on one path or you’ll end up going in circles, confusing your kids and possibly vomiting the Cheetos and chocolate chips.

Let’s drop the fads and stick to basics. If your kid is mostly happy, eats and sleeps. I am pretty sure you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you are trying to engineer your kid into the best adapted, ready to reach the stars, living at full potential little being. You may want to embrace the legalization of marijuana and chill the hell out.


Cordelia is a researcher who has recently settled in Merida, Mexico after a decade spent chronicling her parenting adventures around South East Asia. When she isn’t homeschooling her children, she is usually found losing the battle against Herculean weeds while wielding a can of mosquito spray as Brienne of Tarth does her sword. Cordelia's eclectic and oftentimes regrettable past includes eco-innovation, sailing instruction and restaurant cashier. She is currently working on the upcoming launch of her new site Homeschooling for the Zombie Apocalypse.


  1. You know I love parenting fads just like the rest of them, but you can’t take them as seriously as some people seem to. They’re ideas to toss into your toolbox (the little buggers keep breaking my old parenting tools with each new developmental stage so this is why I have to keep bringing in new ones).

    Then you assess their worth in the face of the job at hand and use them or not depending on whether they seem fit for the purpose. And at the end of the day you tell yourself that everything only sort of half works anyway because you’re not dealing with robots.

  2. I totally agree with what you say about it being best to find out what works for you and your child. I’d have thought that this was just common sense. Perhaps the fact that it maybe doesn’t constitute a ‘parenting style’ makes it a less marketable proposition when it comes to selling books.

    As someone who lived in France for three years and has taught the language for ten years, I also find some of the hype surrounding French approaches to parenting a bit over the top. It’s great to see people trying to learn from what happens in other countries, but I do find a lot of books that take this approach to be a bit simplistic and anecdotal.

  3. If we all had this philosophy, then who would fight the mommy wars? Right? Some parents just take these fads so seriously! I was kicked off an attachment parenting group because I didn’t also cloth diaper! Apparently putting anything but organic bamboo against my baby’s skin means that I have no bond with her! Calm down there! the plastic in her diaper isn’t going to create a love bond barrier!

    Thanks for putting this out there, just relax and enjoy being a parent, just don’t beat them, neglect them or hate them and they will turn out just fine.

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