Sunday, April 7, 2013

A review of Mayim Bialik's book "Beyond The Sling"

pic: no EC in our household!:
Let me start by saying that Attachment Parenting (AP) is NOT my style of parenting but I will not use this blog to rip this extreme lifestyle to shreds. Mayim Bialik is not only a staunch advocate of AP, she's one of the stars of one of the funniest shows on television, the Big Bang Theory, she has a real life Ph.D in neuroscience, is a feminist, a vegan, and a staunch Jew, a certified Lactation Educator Counselor (actively counselling mothers facing breastfeeding problems), and a regular blogger on the Jewish parenting website In this book she gives a detailed description of how their family life looks like having embraced AP. 
She begins with the AP guidelines : Normal Birth, Breastfeeding, being sensitive to children, bonding thru touch (baby wearing etc), co-sleeping, consistent parenting and being gentle with discipline. Hmmm. Don't we all do that? Well at least some of it, to some degree. We dont decide on having C sections soon as we get pregnant, we dont jump and give medicines on the slightest signs of sickness, we do pick up our baby & carry him around as much as he wants, we do breastfeed, we dont go overboard on toys and and even when he has his own bed, dont we all bring our babies to our bed every now and then?  But AP takes it to a whole new level altogether. Being on an other extreme, it is bound to evoke SOME response from a passerby. I remember watching the 2009 movie "Away We Go" , where a pregnant couple (Maya Rudolf) meet a couple practising AP (Maggie Gyllenhall). This was before I became a mom and I had absolutely no idea about anything to do with kids ,let alone this whole concept of AP. I was just as amused as the expectant couple were, to watch the AP mother tandem breastfeed a baby and a toddler, the whole family co-sleep in a large shared bed, where the couple apparently had sex with their kids alongside, and display of other such "shenanigans"! I didn't even realise that it was a real thing until I stepped into the world of parenthood. Stepping in also meant paying attention to all the celeb gossip about pre-chewed food, placenta capsules, breastfeeding older toddlers and the Time Magazine cover. So the reason behind reading this book was just sheer curiosity and perhaps gaining some understanding on how that lifestyle works.

pics: no co-sleeping in our household!:
So if you aren't an AP-parent and still want to read this book , get ready for a good deal of eccentricity even if you have an absolutely open mind. They don't buy "stuff" ( stroller, bouncing seat, fancy toys, yeah the whole shamming baby product industry!) but prefer if their babies play with spoons, pots, pans and strings. They don't believe in teaching ABC, colors, numbers etc till the age of 5. They dont vaccinate. They have two big matresses in the bedroom on which each parent sleeps with one kid each. They practise Elimination Communication, ie no diapers or nappies after 6 months. (btw, EC doesn't mean elimination of the communication as I'd first thought, but communication of the elimination, ie poo & pee!) She breastfed her elder son till he was 2 and younger till he was 4 years old. Yes she had a rigorous pumping schedule during the Big Bang Theory shoots to keep up the breastmilk supply. They have never had a nanny and while she was shooting for Big Bang, her husband stayed at home taking care of the kids. They don't even have a maid! Yes, they do their own toilet cleaning, dishes and vacuuming! Yes her husband was on board with this parenting style, but they did eventually split, sometime after this book was out.

There is a LOT of justification. But honestly the "scientific" explanation she gave doesn't stick, or feel very relevant. So how much ever she justified each topic, it didn't sound convincing to me. Will any justification seem reasonable if someone said medicines are so bad for your body that you'd rather suffer thru the H1N1 virus? So I came to the conclusion that just like non-parents don't get parents, non-AP parents also will never get AP parents! 

But like I said, as a person itself she's extremely intriguing and my idea behind reading the book wasn't for any kind of conversion but a simple curiosity: how does it really work and do celebrities have it any easy. So in all it was fun to read and I still do read her blogs every now and then. And if at all you're interested, her next book is a vegan family cookbook!

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