Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beyond the Sling, by Mayim Bialik

Today I finished reading Mayim Bialik's new book called Beyond the Sling: a real-life guide to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way.  That's right.  You heard me.  A guide to parenting written by Blossom.  Deal with it.

I only learned of this book about a week ago.  And honestly, in my current post-partum brain status, I have no idea how I heard about it.  Another mommy blog?  A parenting website?  I'm totally clueless.  But I told Ben that I wanted to read it.  And in perfect Ben form, just a few days later, it showed up in my mailbox from Amazon.  

I think Mayim's (Dr. Bialik's???) writing style is really easy to read.  It's conversational.  I can sorta hear her (or what I presume is her) in my head, making jokes, using sarcasm, and being alternately very serious about a variety of topics which are both important and fascinating to me.

If the term "attachment parenting" is new to you, it was coined by researchers decades ago to describe what others have sometimes referred to as "instinctual parenting," the type of parenting that humans have used in indigenous cultures for centuries to raise their children.  There are, as Attachment Parenting International describes them, 8 main principles:

1. Preparing for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting - most 'attachment parents' have a goal of natural childbirth due to the benefits for baby and mom.
2. Feeding as more than just intake of nutrients - most 'attachment parents' have a goal of breast feeding and gentle/delayed weaning
3. Sensitivity - this feels hard to define, but usually ends up being pertinent with regard to discipline.
4. Nurturing Touch - aka, babywearing, but also breastfeeding, massage, and other types of physical closeness.
5. Safe sleep (physical and emotional) - the idea of parenting both during the day and at night, often leading parents to co-sleeping and/or bed-sharing.
6. Consistent loving care - the idea that parents are the primary (and often sole) caregivers without frequent use of babysitters, day cares, etc.
7. Positive Discipline - or gentle discipline.  Relates a lot to #3.
8. Balance - balancing the parents' needs with the child's needs.

What I like about Mayim's book is that she addresses all of these principles without taking a hard stance that you must do all 8 or you're a bad parent.  In fact, her book almost contains too many statements of "now I know not everyone does this, and there are other ways to parent, but...."  She basically describes what she and her family do without making you feel like following her ideas and principles are the only way to parent.  It was gentle.  Sensitive.  Probably just like her parenting is!  

And other than chapter 7 on "elimination communication" (the idea that your baby is potty trained from birth and doesn't need diapers), I agree with the vast majority of what she has to say.  Now I just have to figure out how to functionally make it all make sense in my life with my family's needs, which are (of course) different than her family's needs.  

1 comment:

  1. I find the topic of how parenting relates to child development and eventually their maturity into individuals fascinating. Reading books like this is probably one of my most looked forward to aspects in the coming years.

    Also, the fact the Blossom became a neuroscientist is totally awesome.