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Sunday
Apr152012

{In Reflection} A Moment with Mayim Bialik

by Avital Norman Nathman

photo: denise herrick borchertMayim Bialik is truly a woman of many hats. Not only is she starring in “The Big Bang Theory” - one of the hottest shows in television right now, but she also holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA, is a Lactation Education Consultant, has earned the title of “Spokesmama” for the Holistic Moms Network, and is the loving mother of two young sons. With all of that going on in her life, it’s a wonder that Mayim has found the time to write a book on parenting. But that’s just what she did! Mayim’s newest project, Beyond The Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, is currently a best-selling book all about the benefits of Attachment Parenting (AP) and how the practice has worked in her own family. 

Mayim does a wonderful job of weaving together the main principles of AP with scientific facts from her academic background, as well as personal anecdotes that help show exactly how this parenting philosophy works. I recently had the chance to talk with Mayim about her book and was able to get a better idea of how this busy mama is able to make it all work. 

 

What prompted to you to write a parenting book, and why now? 

I call myself an accidental author. I was the Holistic Moms Network’s representative, or  “spokesmama” as they called me, really before I was acting again, and I started writing for Kveller.com (an irreverent, hip Jewish parenting website). With that platform, I started becoming the unofficial voice of Attachment Parenting. There was a lot of interest because I was a public person. I never thought I’d write a book -- it wasn’t really my interest. But I started acting again and doing interviews. Teresa Strasser, who is a comedian and had just written a book on pregnancy, said to me, “I would never want to parent this way, but you make it sound so scientifically interesting and non-judgmental and you make it make sense.” She said, “My book agent wants to talk to you because we think you have a book!” And I said, “I don’t have a book here. I don’t want to write a book. I like to write blogs!” I met with her agent and he was a really brave guy and ... we had a proposal four months later. 

Do you feel like you needed to address the myths or misconceptions surrounding Attachment Parenting when writing your book, or did you mostly stick to just explaining what you do and why? 

I think that once my editor and I started working, we wanted to approach this from several levels. One, from the neurobiological background aspect. Two, what works for our family. And then, three, acknowledging that people don’t like this style of parenting in general and tackling some of that, and I think the book tries to weave all of that in there. Our approach for this book was “I know what you think about people like me,” and some of those misperceptions are that Attachment Parenting raises clingy, whiny, spoiled, needy children who never leave your bed, who rule your house, who tell you when they want to nurse and are bratty miserable people. I hear that frequently! 

How does Attachment Parenting translate to everyday reality? 

I will say that I have good days and I have bad days. Sometimes I have good weeks and bad weeks. I do often see people who clearly do not parent the way I do, fighting with their children in either the supermarket or the park or just on the street over how to walk, how to stand up, “say sorry, say thank you, you’re not saying it loud enough.” I see a lot of kids being put in time-outs over what I would deem normal behavior that should obviously be modified somehow. But, it’s at those moments that [...] I feel grateful ... I take a breath and I’m grateful that I’m having an okay day. On days when I’m not having an okay day, a lot of times I think, maybe this Attachment Parenting thing just isn’t working. And I think that shows how much doubt is a part of a normal parenthood, no matter what you choose. 

All I can say is that for my family, I know that this was absolutely the best way to parent my kids. And everyone gets to decide what’s absolutely the best way to parent their kids. But I know from my kids’ temperament and from the way I’ve handled them, that we have done right by them. I don’t mean to say that I’m perfect with them, or that we’ve done everything perfect, but for their needs and how much they “needed to nurse,” I know that it’s right that every time that they needed to nurse, I nursed them. 

What would you say are the core/key aspects to ensuring a healthy, happy Attachment Parenting family in today’s society?

I think one of the things is finding like-minded people. I tried going to regular parenting/mom groups and I left crying because nobody cared about the things I cared about, or they cared about things that weren’t even issues for me. Part of it was creating a community. It extended out to the La Leche League community and the Holistic Moms Network community. One of my closest friends is somebody I met in prenatal yoga, and we started a moms’ group together and our kids still play together. You have to make a community because you cannot do it alone. And the ties can be very, very strong. The more you hear from other people [...] and how they stand up to things, the stronger you are. We are not made to do this alone. And this style of parenting? Especially we are not meant to do this alone. 

What was the most interesting part of this whole book writing process? 

It’s been a great process. I think writing the discipline chapter was very, very difficult in terms of what to say and how to say it. Obviously a lot of personal stuff comes up, and that was probably the hardest - deciding how much of myself, and that personal struggle to put in. The breastfeeding chapter was also really hard, because I had a really, really hard time breastfeeding and I didn’t want it to come off weird, like breastfeeding sounds crazy and impossible and why should I do it? So I had a couple of really skilled people including Martha Sears (Dr. Sears’ wife) who proofread it to make sure that it was ultimately positive. But those were hard chapters to write. 

How has the reception been for the book (or even just the idea of this book) so far? 

It’s been great! A lot of Attachment Parenting people really feel like I’ve given a voice to what they’ve been fighting on their blogs and in their communities for years. I think what’s even more exciting is reception for people who are conventional parents who have said, “It’s helpful. Even if I don’t want to do it this way, it’s very, very helpful.” And that means a lot to us.

A former teacher and lifetime learner, Avital Norman Nathman is a play-at-home mama, freelance writer, wife and feminist (and not necessarily in that order). When not gardening, cooking or dancing around the house, you can catch her musing about motherhood and feminism at www.TheMamafesto.com. 




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Reader Comments (1)

Thank you Mayim for your thoughtful sharing of your experiences raising your kids. I have three boys and was a LLL leader, practiced attachment parenting "beyond the sling" too.
Can't wait to read your book!
Sarah's Silks
Apr 24, 2012 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSarah Lee

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