I am often asked what makes family life in France different than elsewhere. Truthfully, a lot less than you likely think.

Families in France tend to eat together more often with their meal times being more formal. Often times, though, a television will be playing off to the side, so it’s not exactly family bonding time. The French focus more on the quality of their drink and food, and less on the quantity. Every family will sit down to two proper meals a day at minimum. It is rare to find someone grabbing a quick sandwich and leaving.

It is very common to have extended families living together in France. Typically, a family owns the same piece of property for generations and those that leave the nest will typically only go a short ways down the road. This keeps families close. Overcrowding is not an issue as young people go off and get married or escaped to the big city for work.

Families in France tend to have a lot of discipline in the home. This leads them to children who are generally well-behaved at church and school with very little aggression or bullying. It’s not that they are abusive towards their children, it’s more of an understanding between the adults and children that they will do as they’re told.

I’ve also noticed that children in France seem to help out around the homesteads more than in other places. There is always something to be done, and children are included in the chores. Of course, it could have to do with there being less extracurricular activities available for children to take up their time.

When you go to a restaurant, you may see the French dunking a croissant into their hot chocolate. That’s one of the things that first threw me off when we arrived in France. Yeah, I know, nothing big. These small things are the only things I’ve really noticed different about family life in France compared to other countries.