If you were a teen or the parent of one in the late '80s or early '90s, you might fondly remember Mayim Bialik as Blossom, TV's beloved quirky girl whose coming-
In her earlier acting career, Bialik, 36, received international acclaim for her role as the young Bette Midler in “Beaches.”
The actress is now receiving accolades for her portrayal of Amy Farrah Fowler, the dry, socially challenged, yet lovable brainiac girlfriend of Sheldon Cooper on CBS's “The Big Bang Theory.”
As the leading lady in her own life, Bialik is as dynamic as any of her on-screen characters — she's a granola girl like Blossom (her family are all vegans) and a scholar like Amy Farrah Fowler (she has a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA, and she became a lactation education counselor through online extension courses).
She's also the author of a new book, “Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.”
In the book, Bialik sheds light on her unconventional philosophies and practical experiences as a parent using a holistic and gentle approach to parenting.
“Attachment parenting,” a style of child rearing made famous by Dr. William Sears, includes natural birth, breast-
“When we treat our children kindly and expect love and give love, we hopefully are raising children that then expect that and give that to the world around them,” Bialik said in a recent phone interview. “It is very consistent with a ‘green' style of parenting.”
Bialik and her husband of eight years, Mike Roosevelt, also 36, employ the principles of attachment parenting with both her children: Miles, 6, and Fred, 31/2.
Though she is an expert on attachment parenting now, Bialik said that before she had children, she never had much interest in babies or child rearing.
“I never really thought much about it,” she said.
But she had friends, a couple with children, who did think about parenting — a lot.
“They seemed obsessed with their kids,” she said. “They seemed like they were thinking and talking way too much about everything.”
As the friends' kids grew up, Bialik and Roosevelt were impressed by an interesting and unusual dynamic within this family.
“We saw children that were not parented by force or by fear. The children had an appropriate voice — they had a voice that mattered, even if it didn't trump the parents. They felt that they mattered.”
“Undoubtedly, most parents hope to parent in a way that leads to their children leading happy productive lives,” responded Dr. Laura McGuinn, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at University of Oklahoma Child Study Center, in an email interview.
“The methods grouped as attachment parenting are rooted in this desire and guided by the belief that responsive mothering in infancy and toddlerhood leads to securely attached, confident children and eventually adults,” she stated.
When Bialik became pregnant with Miles, she and Roosevelt decided to try the attachment parenting method for themselves.
Doctor seeks evidence
The method may not be right for everyone and is controversial in some ways — Miles and Fred sleep with their parents every night. They were breast-fed until ready to quit — Bialik still nurses Fred sporadically, as he slowly weans himself.
“At first glance, attachment parenting advice seems reasonable and promising,” McGuinn said.
Though she hasn't read Bialik's book, McGuinn said more scientific information about attachment parenting is needed, especially for children older than 2.
“Unfortunately, most of the available books and information give sound advice but offer little to no theory or scientific evidence to back up their recommendations.”
Bialik said that some of her research for the book was based on her doctoral thesis, for which she studied the hormones of human attachment, including oxytocin, vasopressin and prolactin.
“Oxytocin, specifically, is one of the main things that helps get the baby in and get the baby out,” Bialik said, only half jokingly.
These hormones are also largely responsible for the bonding process that happens between a mother and her infant.
The progressive parents live in a very small Los Angeles home — their one-
The children don't have a playroom filled with the latest toys — Bialik and Roosevelt have made a conscious decision to keep their material lives simple and minimal.
“Our society's obsession with consumerism, especially in the realm of baby things, baby soaps and baby products. ... That's something that my husband and I, partly for frugality and partly for environmental reasons, have really rejected.”
The kids have plenty to keep them entertained and educated, and everything and everybody in the household gets clean, Bialik says.
“We figure everything out without spending a lot of money on that kind of stuff.”
Keeping her children as physically close as possible is key to Bialik's mothering. For her babies' first several months of life, she carried them, nestled to her body, in a sling.
“For me, baby-
Aside from also making nursing convenient and fostering a close bond with her baby, Bialik cites research that shows that cultures that keep their babies close and nurse them frequently often do not report colic.
She used a wrap-
In “Beyond the Sling,” Bialik also writes about elimination communication as a form of early potty training that encourages parents to recognize their child's natural signals instead of waiting until the child is older, then introducing the toilet.
“You're basically training your child to use their pants as a bathroom and then two years later we have to turn around and do all sorts of complicated manipulations to get them to unlearn that,” she said.
She's the spokeswoman for Holistic Moms Network, a nonprofit organization of parents who share similar parenting ideals. She's planning a second book on parenting and stays busy as a full-time cast member of “The Big Bang Theory.”
But for Bialik and Roosevelt, their children are No.1. Attachment parenting may not be for all families, but for Bialik's, it's a natural.
“Most of our life is really centered around trying to be the parents we want to be.”
Mind the mind
OU's McGuinn cites an important line of work by Elizabeth Meins and colleagues in England that explores “mind-
Much of Meins' research includes a focus on “how early caregiver ‘mind-
“This type of parenting has been linked to children developing more empathy and perspective-taking capacity,” McGuinn said.
“A take-home message is that kids are pretty resilient and there is not likely one perfect way to parent your child,” she said. “Allowing yourself to enjoy the experience and forgive and learn from any mistakes you make along the way is key.”