Mayim Bialik, best known for her role as Blossom Russo in the 1990’s sitcom Blossom and most recently her role as Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, has written a new book about her adventurous life in attachment parenting. The 36-year-old mother of two— Miles, 6½, and Frederick, 3½— has earned her BS and a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA.
In her book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, Mayim sheds some light on attachment parenting, a philosophy and lifestyle popularized by well-known physicians like Dr. William Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon. She uses her personal experiences to bring to life the day-to-day workings, for better or worse, of attachment parenting. This approach is not for everyone, and Mayim would be the first to admit it. Whether you are a new parent, or have a few years under your belt, you will have no problem finding this book helpful and insightful on subjects such as co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby wearing and gentle discipline.
Historically, attachment parenting has focused more on the relationship between the mother and the baby. But what about the Dads? With breast feeding being one of the main items that most attachment parenting advocates focus on and physically the fathers in these situations are not able to fully participate. What do we, who are biologically unable to fulfill that part of this parenting style, take away from this book? For me, it was the gentle discipline section. Beyond the Sling offers some great tips regarding time-outs, “because I said so” moments and violence. At the the back of the book is a helpful resources section, making more information easy to obtain.
If you are curious about, interested in, or even against attachment parenting, you should read Beyond the Sling. Like all books on parenting, you take what works for you and your family. There is no book that will solve “once and for all” parenting concerns such as sleep and feeding. Mayim states it quite well – this book is about “empowering you to make the best choices for your kids.”
Eight principles of attachment parenting
- Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
- Feed with Love and Respect
- Respond with Sensitivity
- Use Nurturing Touch
- Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
- Provide Consistent Loving Care
- Practice Positive Discipline
- Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
Criticisms and controversies of attachment parenting
Strenuous and Demanding on Parents
One criticism of attachment parenting is that it can be very strenuous and demanding on parents. Without a support network of helpful friends or family, the work of parenting can be difficult. Writer Judith Warner contends that a “culture of total motherhood”, which she blames in part on attachment parenting, has led to an “age of anxiety” for mothers in modern American society. Sociologist Sharon Hays argues that the “ideology of intensive mothering” imposes unrealistic obligations and perpetuates a “double shift” life for working women.
Not Supported by Conclusive Research.
Another criticism is that there is no conclusive or convincing body of research that shows this labor-intensive approach to be in any way superior to what attachment parents term “mainstream parenting” in the long run.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’s policy SIDS prevention opposes bed-sharing with infants (though it does encourage room-sharing). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also warns against co-sleeping Attachment Parenting International issued a response which stated that the data referenced in the Consumer Product Safety Commission statement was unreliable, and that co-sponsors of the campaign had created a conflict of interest.
Non-DSM Definition of Reactive Attachment Disorder.
Attachment Parenting International (API) utilizes an attachment therapy resource (Peachtree Attachment Resources) to define reactive attachment disorder, which claims the criteria are based on the DSM-IV. Attachment therapy definitions and symptoms lists of RAD have been criticized as being very different to DSM-TR criteria and as being “non-specific”, producing a high rate of “false-positives”,and “wildly inclusive”.
Ambiguities in usage.
A form of parenting called attachment parenting is sometimes used as an adjunct to attachment therapy.The term “attachment parenting” is increasingly co-opted by proponents of controversial techniques conventionally associated with attachment therapy such as Nancy Thomas,whose AP methods differ from those of William Sears.
“Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way” (Touchstone / Simon & Schuster) by Mayim Bialik is available now.
About the author
Bryan Grossbauer is an actor, musician, former teacher, and full time stay at home dad. He is father to 22-month old Finn and has a daughter that will be arriving at the end of April. Bryan and his wife, Erin O’Callaghan, live in Manhattan and enjoy traveling, hiking, and live music. Follow his adventures at redwagonstories.blogspot.com and @bryangrossbauer on Twitter.
Glad to see you guys looked at this book. As your review points out, although AP ideas have some value, its preoccupation with mothering and breast-feeding misses the benefits that a child gets from having 2 parents.
Another criticism I’ve seen of AP is that it doesn’t support children’s developing autonomy well.
My favorite book that deals with these issues better (and which I often give to new dads as a gift) is “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk”.