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On Parenting
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 02/10/2012

When French parenting mixes with threesomes: A lesson on hiding indiscretions from the kids

The art of French parenting has taken on a new and unexpected twist, or tryst.

Pamela Druckerman, the writer who set off parenting debates this week with her essay in the Wall Street Journal, “Why French Parents Are Superior,” (which was an excerpt of her newly published, “Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting,” Penguin) has just involuntarily launched another discussion.

It turns out that in another essay a few years ago for the magazine Marie Claire, she revealed that she had planned and engaged in a threesome with her husband.

Slate’s Rachael Larimore discovered the piece called, “How I Planned a Menage A Trois.” It is filled with excruciating details about what she writes was a gift for her husband’s 40th birthday. It culminates in a paragraph that would make anyone viewing it in their own rearview mirror — let alone a writer who is now selling a parenting book — wince:

“Finally, they tire themselves out. There’s a sweet moment at the end when the three of us lie together under the covers, with the birthday boy in the middle. He’s beaming. I’ll later get a series of heartfelt thank-you notes from him, saying it was as good as he had hoped.”

Larimore revealed Thursday that Marie Claire editors had agreed, at Druckerman’s request they said, to remove the essay from the magazine’s online archives. Enough evidence of the essay existed, however, that Larimore said she came on it accidentally.

Superior smirks aside, Druckerman’s embarrassment does raise an issue that vexes many parents these days: What to do about past indiscretions once we take on the role of a parent?

Many of us become somewhat more upstanding after we have children and take on more financial and emotional responsibilities. Do we really want to be reminded of the past partying? More troubling, do want our kids to one day learn of these portions of our past?

In Druckerman’s case, it seems like her foresight to protect her image was still not enough. Though, it may have been naive to think such a widely published provocative essay would go quietly.

What about the rest of us — those if us with perhaps fewer exhibitionist tendencies, but still some not-for-kid-consumption indiscretions? With the constantly changing online privacy policies on public forums such as Facebook, it’s hard to know what evidence about us is readily available and what we can control.

Is the answer to try to cleanse the record as best we can, or to turn to our children at some point, throw up our hands and say c’est la vie?

Have your children ever discovered something embarrassing from your pre-parenting days? What did you do? What would you do if they did?

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By  |  07:00 AM ET, 02/10/2012

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