Mayim Bialik Debuts Book, Talks Attachment Parenting

Mayim Bialik Debuts Book, Talks Attachment Parenting

She first stole our hearts as the hat-wearing teen Blossom and the saucy young Bette Midler in Beaches. Now we love Mayim Bialik as the quirky neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory. Not only does she have an outstanding acting career, she also holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is one of the most hands-on moms in Hollywood.

Mayim opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her latest endeavour: her “memoir” on attachment parenting, Beyond the Sling. She says we are “so trained to believe that independence from a child and having a child that is independent is ‘best.’” The thoughtful mom-of-two also talks about her sons whom she homeschools, how she handles the criticism for her outspoken – and sometimes unpopular – views on attachment parenting, and her high-profile life: “I don’t fit in in Hollywood. I never really did.”

CBS: Tell us all about your book, Beyond the Sling.

MB: “I’m super nervous and excited to bring our families’ experience with parenting – and parenting this specific way – to the general public and anyone who is interested. I never expected to be writing a book! This is just the way we live and the way a lot of our friends do. And this is what works best for us. So it’s kind of funny to write a book about it.

Having a background in neuroscience really helped me come to a lot of understanding about the choices that I already wanted to make. And that’s one of the points I make in the book: you don’t need a Ph.D. in neuroscience to be a good parent. But for me it really helped understand a lot of the intuitive things I was doing that a lot of popular parenting wisdom says you shouldn’t do.

I think of it more of a memoir than a parenting book. I say in the first chapter it’s not a book that tells you how to parent. It’s a book talking about our style of parenting. There might be something in there that people want to incorporate or try to understand better.”

CBS: One of the criticisms of attachment parenting is that a lot of moms feel too overwhelmed to commit to it. Any thoughts?

MB: “That’s one of the criticisms against attachment parenting. But I say in the book that all parents should receive at least a minimal education from doctors, nurses and all sorts of people in medical positions to understand why people make decisions that lead to choices like attachment parenting.

I think that every parent feels overwhelmed and is trying to figure out the ‘best’ way. But I think that in our culture we’ve been so trained to believe that independence from a child and having a child that is independent is ‘best.’ And I think that we’re finally seeing a lot of scientific research supporting that being close to your baby, fostering that attachment, and surrounding yourself with a community of people that supports that, is beneficial for the child and for the parent.”

CBS: Aren’t you exhausted though?

MB: “I’m always exhausted, but most parents are! But yes, if you make the decision to have your child breastfeed on demand and you make the decision to be the primary caregiver to your child, if you make the decision not to sleep-train your child because you believe they will be ready to sleep independent when they’re ready, yes it’s exhausting!

I also see a lot of parents that don’t parent the way that we choose to and have a tremendous amount of anxiety, worry, and fighting with their children over things that I don’t fight with my children about. So I think it’s actually a trade-off of where you want to put your energy. It’s a lot of work early on with your child for sure. But like I said, for many of us it’s worth it.”

CBS: How do you get out of the house for work or events?

MB: “My husband is at home with the kids when I’m not, but for the first year for both of their lives, I didn’t go out a lot. And I wasn’t working. I was finishing my degree with my first son. And when Fred was born, I had just finished my thesis and my husband was still in grad school. But at this point, we don’t don’t have a nanny, we don’t use a ‘sitter. I go out when I can. I work [write] when the boys are sleeping. And my husband has made the decision to be an at-home parent with them at this phase of our life.”

CBS: You are amazing! You are a Hollywood star and yet you really are in the trenches of motherhood!

MB: “I promise you I’m a very normal person – I clean my own toilets and everything.”

CBS: Is Fred still breastfeeding?

MB: “Fred still breastfeeds, yes. Not as much as he used to. He doesn’t breastfeed at night. Not every day, so we’re definitely on the path to him not breastfeeding. It’s been a very interesting journey.”

CBS: Do you feel like you missed your calling as a midwife?

MB: “In some ways I do. I’m a lactation educator counselor. My hope is to one day be able to be an IBCLC, a lactation consultant. I would’ve loved to have been a midwife, but it’s something that I didn’t even really come to until I was well into my 20′s. I’ve thought of being a certified doula. As a medical person, I’m really fascinated with the full process of midwifery in particular. Now I just go to a midwife for all of my checkups.”

CBS: Have you met famed midwife Ina May Gaskin?

MB: “No, but I’m meeting her at the Atlanta birth center this summer. She and I will both be speaking at a fundraiser there. I said I have to wear my hair in braids!”

CBS: How do you handle the criticism on your beliefs of attachment parenting, breastfeeding, etc.?

MB: “With my first son I was very sensitive, I felt very judged, I doubted myself a lot. But what I did is I found other women who parented this way. Other moms who had the same struggles and were judged the same way. And we created for ourselves a community of strength and support. There’s about 5 of us who I’m very, very close with. That’s who we go to when we need help and when our inlaws think we’re nuts.

I think that’s a really big part of what is missing. There’s a lot of mom groups created all over the world and there’s a lot of emphasis on, ‘Is your kid reaching this milestone?’ and, ‘What stroller did you get?’ and, ‘What clothes are they wearing?’ But for me it was the women of the La Leche League and the women of Holistic Moms Network which I’ve been a member of before I was back in the limelight. It’s really been the women of those communities that have helped me.

And also, I talk about this in the book, everyone’s allowed their own opinions! Some people want to have a conversation with you, and some people just want to be right. I’ve really learned which is which, and know when to smile and say, ‘Thanks for your opinion. This is what works for us and I’m glad you’re doing what works for you.’ ”

CBS: Your acting career is impressive! First it seemed you were born to play Blossom, then you were perfect for the role as a young Bette Midler in Beaches, and now you have perfected the role of Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory!

MB: “I guess that’s what happens when you’re a character actress. You adapt to roles that are very specific and character-driven, and you make them your own. I was teased my whole life for looking different than everybody else and acting different than everybody else. But I guess when you’re an actor you finally find a place where that’s OK.”

CBS: Is acting your true passion?

MB: “Being a mom is my true passion. If I had to never work again – and in my industry you may never work again – that’s really the place where I feel I belong. As a mom.”

CBS: And what about a career in neuroscience?

MB: “I think that if you have a Ph.D. and you leave the world of academia, it is very quickly not worth what it was. So I can’t go back to a research professorship or anything like that.

But I teach neuroscience in our home school community, so it’s definitely something I’m active in. For me, having a neuroscience degree opens up a whole world of understanding child development. Part of my training was learning about the brain and learn how we learn. I studied neuropsychology which was also super helpful.

But having a neuroscience degree and working in show business is very, very useful I promise you! I get to analyze people all the time [laughs]!”

CBS: You seem so un-Hollywod. Do you feel like you fit it?

MB: “No I don’t fit in in Hollywood. I never really did. I never really fit in anywhere – I was always kind of an odd kid no matter what I was doing. But I’ve been really, really lucky. I have an incredible manager who was a friend of mine as a teenager; it’s like having a friend helping guide my career. I have an incredible publicist who tells it to me straight, and I found a stylist who knows how to dress me even though I don’t like to dress like a lot of Hollywood actresses. She makes it all kind of come together so that I can just be anxious about having to be out with crowds of people which is enough to make me anxious [laughs].”

CBS: How are the boys doing?

MB: “They’re good. Miles is 6. I just wrote a really funny post on kveller about the ‘road trip from hell.’ It was a family road trip in Arizona for 5 days. And omigosh if I didn’t want to kill myself or one of the children [laughs]!

It was nothing horrible, but I don’t why, our 6-year-old acted like a teenager! So saucy and like he owned the whole town of Tombstone, Arizona. It was hysterical. He’s wonderful, but 6 is a little bit bipolar. The whole year has been very up-and-down, we’ve found so far.

And Fred is awesome! He’s 3 1/2 and starting to talk more which we appreciate. He’s just a really, really sweet bundle of love. We’re kind of amazed. We got two really mellow kids, but the second one is pretty loveable!”

CBS: Do you think Miles has caught a bit of the acting bug?

MB: “I hope not [laughs]! No, I think it’s just normal expansiveness to being 6. We read a series of books that are kind of old-school. But it said that 6-year-olds can be very up-and-down. There’s no maliciousness or meanness in his saucy-ness, but he’s just sowing his oats. He’s a joy.”

CBS: And you’re home schooling the boys?

MB: “Yes, in fact somebody just asked Miles that and he said, ‘It’s usually my dad when my mom works.’ But yes, we’re kind of un-schoolers so it’s not like we’re following a strict curriculum where he needs to wake up every day and do. So our life is a lot of figuring out whether I’m home or my husband is home.”

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  1. Janna

    “it’s actually a trade-off of where you want to put your energy”

    That sentence by itself is a wonderful tip on parenting!

    Reply
  2. Dani

    I’m starting to really like her way of speaking about her parenting…although I don’t agree on the “breastfeeding until the wean themselves” thing.

    What I don’t get is the home-schooling issue. I’m from Germany and here it’s required by law to go to school. So, is Miles not yet in “real” school or what does she mean, they’re not doing a strict curriculum?

    Reply
    • NYC Mommy

      Dani- homeschooling rules vary by state in US. In NY you must send a letter of intent to home school so you child will be removed from school rolls. Also you must submit a Individualized Home Instruction Plan to relevant agency and they must approve. You must also submit homework and tests and quarterly assessments to same agency. So there are rules and guidelines.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Dani – she means that they are not sending him to “real” school, but rather educating him at home. It is a growing movement in the U.S., especially in areas where public schools are failing/faltering and private schools continue to be prohibitively expensive for many families.

      Reply
  3. Ebonita

    I completely respect everyone’s right to parent as they see fit. But I do have to say much of this sounds like parents using the attachment theory to sui ttheir desire to succumb to their child’s whim and not exert any boundaries. It sounds like they’re saying it’s for the child’s needs when really it’s about their own inability to let go and let the child grow as an independent person. There is emphasis on the child being independent as “best” because the child eventually *must* be its own person.

    Also I find it troublesome that this method of parenting appears to be patenting itself as being based on the attachment theory. But the attachment theory notes that the healthiest form of attachment is securely attached. Securely attached children are defined as those that can self-soothe when the primary caregiver leaves in the knowledge that (s)he will eventually return and their world is “safe” (according to the studies conducted). The attachment theory itself notes attachment as based on how the child fosters when the primary caregiver is absent. It is based on some level of removal. I kind of see where they got their interpretation, as Bowlby (the orignal theorist) focused on being attentive and nurturing to children. But this sounds like plain old co-dependency to me. Just my two cents.

    Reply
    • Attached Momma

      Responding appropriately to the needs of one’s child is the foundation of attachment parenting; appropriate response changes as the child grows. The needs of an infant is different from the needs of a toddler and the needs of an adolescent. If you meet a child’s needs where they are, you will foster a secure attachment. Teaching a baby that their needs will be met when they cry reinforces this attachment and builds an understanding that communication helps them to get their needs met. My children trust that I will meet their needs, and, by extension, do not believe the world to be a cruel and isolating place, and this has helped me build a secure attachment with them, so they do not fear that I will not return when I leave. This is not co-dependency but rather the very definition of trust. My 10 year old is a secure and independent girl who knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to be who she is or ask for what she needs, while also being incredibly empathetic, kind, and understanding. There are no power struggles in my home, and my children are routinely praised by educators, family members and strangers alike at how respectful, well-behaved, and engaged they boy are — yes, even those family members who pushed back on our attachment parenting.

      Reply
      • Ebonita

        What you describe sounds like basic, adequate caregiving and not any particular style though. I think all of it sounds great, but it also goes without saying for many mothers and sounds like it flows with a natural maternal instinct. And yes, many mothers don’t have the instinct. However I don’t see much of a different between what you described and how many mothers naturlly respond to their children.

        Reply
        • Kristi B

          Exactly, Ebonita! It is not some weird parenting phase. It is a mother parenting instinctively. When you meet a child’s needs it leads to a secure attachment. Hence, attachment parenting! It does not mean there are no boundaries, just that the boundaries are reasonable enough for the child to understand at whatever age they are at. There is discipline through teaching and connection. It’s basic psychology that a child learns best through modeling. Therefore, if you treat the child with love and respect and show them no violence, that is what they will model themselves. It’s really pretty simple and not as strange as the media portrays it to be. I actually just learned the term this year and have been parenting my children this way since my oldest was born based on psychology and my natural instincts.

          Reply
    • Emma

      In my memory of attachment theory “securely attached” children are not defined as those who self-soothe when left alone, they would cry/show distress and then be comforted easily when their parent returned. I hope you are not suggesting that CIO sleep training techniques are designed to help build a securely attached child? A securely attached child has learned that when they need their parent the parent is there, therefore they are not afraid to explore and have no need to cling to the parent, as they have no fear of abandonment.

      You clearly don’t really know much about attachment parenting, AP parents are very much about discipline, but with the definition that discipline is guidance, not punishment. AP parents invest an enormous amount of time “teaching” their children and the goal is 100% about enabling their child to be very securely attached and independent, but through nurture not abandonment.

      just my 2 cents, but perhaps better if you read a little more about attachment parenting before writing it off as something that it is very clearly not.

      Reply
      • Ebonita

        “In my memory of attachment theory “securely attached” children are not defined as those who self-soothe when left alone, they would cry/show distress and then be comforted easily when their parent returned.”

        They would initially show distress yes, then self-soothe or otherwise calm themselves in recognition that the caregiver would return. If the child were distraught the entire time and ONLY became eased after the caregiver returned, that child is not securely attached. That child is more likely to be labelled ambivalently attached. If a child needs their caregiver around at all times and has no means of attending to themselves even temporarily they are unhealthy. The fact that you described this the way you did proves my point.

        “A securely attached child has learned that when they need their parent the parent is there, therefore they are not afraid to explore and have no need to cling to the parent, as they have no fear of abandonment.”

        That is one part of it, yes. But the other part is that a securely attached child trusts that when the parent leaves, they will return and learns to attend to their own needs (as best as possible) in the interim. You continuously miss a big part of the theory which is the child’s ability to attend to themselves.

        “the goal is 100% about enabling their child to be very securely attached and independent”

        Mayim’s statement noted that she felt independence in children wasn’t such a great thing. This is what I was responding to.

        “just my 2 cents, but perhaps better if you read a little more about attachment parenting before writing it off as something that it is very clearly not.”

        I haven’t “written it off.” I merely expressed my thoughts based on what I do know about it coupled with the statements Mayim made in this interview. Though I’m not looking to incorporate it into any childcare practices I may develop. There’s nothing wrong with discussion and examination. You shouldn’t take my questioning as an attack on your practices. Just because I don’t agree with them doesn’t mean I am denigrating them. I went out of my way to say everyone should parent as they see fit and I meant that. At the same time I find this concept flawed and since this is a public forum felt I should voice my opinion about it. If you feel what you are doing is right, healthy and based on good science nothing I say should make you feel bad about it.

        Reply
        • Emma

          Are we both talking about the “strange situation test”? If so can you point me in the direction of the literature that used self-soothing as part of the assessment criteria in that? Clearly we were taught this by different professors because that certainly wasn’t the way I learned it. A child who showed no distress, was comforted by a stranger as effectively as by their mother, could not be easily comforted by their mother, or was ambivalent to the mother’s return would be seen to have an unhealthy attachment. I have never read that a child who did not comfort themselves before the parent returned would be seen as ambivalently attached (or are you talking about a different study?), please share a link if you don’t mind.

          Your comment “It sounds like they’re saying it’s for the child’s needs when really it’s about their own inability to let go and let the child grow as an independent person.” certainly sounds like you are being derogatory, suggesting that an AP mum would try and stifle their child’s independence for their own selfish needs. You’re not making me feel bad about my style of parenting, I just feel that your statement shows a real misunderstanding of the AP approach and goals. An AP parent works hard to provide their child with the security, self esteem and abilities to deal with life independently, and sees developing a secure attachment in the early years as vital to this, perhaps you may personally disagree with the effectiveness of the AP approach to ensuring this attachment takes place, but an AP parent firmly believes that building trust by being responsive to an infants communication and needs (day and night) is the most healthy way to allow their children to grow to be confident and independent.

          Reply
          • Ebonita

            “Are we both talking about the “strange situation test”? If so can you point me in the direction of the literature that used self-soothing as part of the assessment criteria in that?”

            I don’t recall it being called the strange situation test, but it does sounds like we are speaking about the same thing. Unfortunately I don’t have a link either. I honestly don’t recall the study using the term self-sooth. That’s more my interpretation of what was described (essentially the kids calming themselves down. basically not remaining in a state of distress/panic and frustration. somehow finding the means to be ok in the absence of the caregiver). I don’t think the concept of self-soothing is necessarily important though. I do think the child finding mechanisms to cope and be “ok” in the absence of the parent is. And that is what I took from the study.

            “An AP parent works hard to provide their child with the security, self esteem and abilities to deal with life independently, and sees developing a secure attachment in the early years as vital to this, perhaps you may personally disagree with the effectiveness of the AP approach to ensuring this attachment takes place, but an AP parent firmly believes that building trust by being responsive to an infants communication and needs (day and night) is the most healthy way to allow their children to grow to be confident and independent.”

            That is more than fair. I certainly agree with those principles and any parent that has that in mind is one I am in agreement with (at least in theory). I think the point of contention for me comes down to some of practices I’ve heard described (like breast feeding indefinitely and *never* attempting to ween. I think that can be more counterproductive to fostering independence as I don’t think a child will choose to ween until perhaps age 5 or 6 when they may begin to think its “weird” In the meanwhile a child past toddler years that needs breast milk for nuorishment is possibly missing out on alternative means of nourishment and developing a relationship with food in addition to the time/energy/etc constrainst is places on the mother).

            I thank you for being civil in this discussion. It’s always nice when people can discuss an issue respectfully and without making personal attacks. And I apologize if anything I’ve said appeared counter to that because I primarily want to have healthy discourse, despite agreeing or disagreeing on any given point.

          • Barefoot Momma

            “I think the point of contention for me comes down to some of practices I’ve heard described (like breast feeding indefinitely and *never* attempting to ween. I think that can be more counterproductive to fostering independence as I don’t think a child will choose to ween until perhaps age 5 or 6 when they may begin to think its “weird” ”
            LOL, I could have written that before I had children. All 5 of them are weaned, and most weaned totally without blatant encouragement from me. They weaned between 4 and 6. Gasp, I know ;-) You will probably not meet a more independent and diverse group of kids. My older teen girls have this amazing sense of self and are self assured in a way I couldn’t even fathom as a teen or young adult. They have this beautiful confidence about them. Now, I don’t say that because I think it’s a result of long term nursing, but to hint at their independence. Once someone told my husband and me that co-sleeping would make the kids dependent. He looked at me and sighed, “A bit more dependence would be welcome!” As toddlers they had no fear of just taking off, which made for some scary moments.
            Some interesting insights on weaning can be gleaned from the writings of Katherine Dettweiler if you’re interested.

          • Ebonita

            I will look her up. Thanks.
            And thanks for sharing your experiences. As I will be a working mom I still don’t imagine I will do child-led weaning (unless my child happens to self-prompt weaning at about age 1 1/2 or 2 lol), but it is helpful to know children can be independent while self-weaning.

          • Emma

            Ebonita I’m not sure we are both talking about the strange situation test, (the Mary Ainsworth test for assessing types of attachment) because I can’t find anything regarding the child needing to find a way to calm down on their own in order to be classified as having a secure attachment. An unhealthy attachment can get in the way of developing the ability to self soothe though so perhaps you are talking about something different. Won’t quibble on it though, I think we both got our points across and to be honest I suspect you might fit in with my AP group more closely than you’d think.

            As far as weaning, an AP principle is to “feed with respect”, which refers to all feeding (both milk and solids) and the main idea is not to force an infant onto a fixed schedule, leave them crying at night because some book has told you that once their birth weight doubles they “don’t need feeding at night” etc. Many mothers do choose to let their children self wean although many also do encourage weaning by offering cows milk, using distraction etc and many women do actively make the choice to wean by 2 or 3 years if the child hasn’t self weaned. I’d disagree that there is a nutritional risk in delaying weaning past this age though, once weaned most children are offered cows milk and dairy products as an alternative to replace the lost nutrients so I see little difference. It does mean though that the mother needs to be more available although it depends, my 20 month old breastfeeds in the morning, after his nap and before bed although if I’m not there at any of those times (which is rare) then he is happy to have cows milk or water, the only real restriction on me is that I can’t have a weekend away or take certain medications. I think most older kids that BF do it for comfort (like using a pacifier and thumb sucking) and connection with the mother vs hunger and I don’t see it as harmful, although I also don’t see it as important to keep breastfeeding that long if the mother doesn’t want to. (NB in regards to the other post about demand feeding, its sadly pretty common for new mothers to be advised to give boiled water or a dummy to a hungry newborn baby, or for them to be told a baby shouldn’t need to feed more often than every 2 or 3 hours or feed at night after x number of weeks and I’ve definitely seen this put to practice)

            Thanks for listening to my point of view, like you I’m not here to attack, I just feel passionately about the AP approach and I think there is a lot of misunderstanding of the principles and motivations behind this style of parenting. I hope I’ve changed your mind somewhat about attachment parenting, but its ok if I haven’t, you still seem like a thoughtful parent and I’m sure you have your child’s interests as a priority.

          • Ebonita

            “Ebonita I’m not sure we are both talking about the strange situation test”

            We may not be. Since attachment theory is a such a popular theory I’m sure many studies have been done relating to it. And I agree that there’s no pount quibbling on it as our points have both been made.

            “to be honest I suspect you might fit in with my AP group more closely than you’d think.”

            I can’t disagree with that. =)

            “I hope I’ve changed your mind somewhat about attachment parenting”

            You have! I’m going to read up on it a bit more. I agree with you that I align very well with many (if not all) of the principles. It seems many of the things I have planned to do based on my own instinct, and my understanding of human nature as a psych degree holder, overlap greatly with what you’ve described to me. It’s been great discussing this with you.

          • Emma

            Ebonita I’m not sure we are both talking about the strange situation test, (the Mary Ainsworth test for assessing types of attachment) because I can’t find anything regarding the child needing to find a way to calm down on their own in order to be classified as having a secure attachment. An unhealthy attachment can get in the way of developing the ability to self soothe though so perhaps you are talking about something different. Won’t quibble on it though, I think we both got our points across and to be honest I suspect you might fit in with my AP group more closely than you’d think.

            As far as weaning, an AP principle is to “feed with respect”, which refers to all feeding (both milk and solids) and the main idea is not to force an infant onto a fixed schedule, leave them crying at night because some book has told you that once their birth weight doubles they “don’t need feeding at night” etc. Many mothers do choose to let their children self wean although many also do encourage weaning by offering cows milk, using distraction etc and many women do actively make the choice to wean by 2 or 3 years if the child hasn’t self weaned. I’d disagree that there is a nutritional risk in delaying weaning past this age though, once weaned most children are offered cows milk and dairy products as an alternative to replace the lost nutrients so I see little difference. It does mean though that the mother needs to be more available although it depends, my 20 month old breastfeeds in the morning, after his nap and before bed although if I’m not there at any of those times (which is rare) then he is happy to have cows milk or water, the only real restriction on me is that I can’t have a weekend away or take certain medications. I think most older kids that BF do it for comfort (like using a pacifier and thumb sucking) and connection with the mother vs hunger and I don’t see it as harmful, although I also don’t see it as important to keep breastfeeding that long if the mother doesn’t want to. (NB in regards to the other post about demand feeding, its sadly pretty common for new mothers to be advised to give boiled water or a dummy to a hungry newborn baby, or for them to be told a baby shouldn’t need to feed more often than every 2 or 3 hours or feed at night after x number of weeks and I’ve definitely seen this put to practice)

            Thanks for listening to my point of view, like you I’m not here to attack, I just feel passionately about the AP approach and I think there is a lot of misunderstanding of the principles and motivations behind this style of parenting. I hope I’ve changed your mind somewhat about attachment parenting, but its ok if I haven’t, you still seem like a thoughtful parent and I’m sure you have your child’s interests as a priority.

  4. Anonymous9

    Even if you skip the discussion of whether this is really a style of parenting that is best for the child, it strikes me that attachment parenting is something that only people with a fair amount of money really even get to worry about. Whether one parent gets to stay home all the time, or in her case, whether both parents are home most of the time, is really not something that even exists as an option for people who need to work to actually support their family. Most people, especially in these economic times, aren’t living off childhood trust funds.

    In most families, baby needs to be on a sleep schedule because mommy and daddy have to spend 8-5 in a cubicle and it’s really going to work a lot better if they get to sleep once in awhile.

    Reply
    • Ebonita

      Great point! This method is not feasible for majority of parents. The notion of breast feeding at the child’s will certainly can’t occur when mommy needs to return to work.

      Reply
      • Emma

        in that case the child would be bottle-fed on demand, (preferably EBM but otherwise formula) as per current guidelines by most major health bodies (AAP, WHO etc)

        Reply
        • Ebonita

          “in that case the child would be bottle-fed on demand”

          How is this different than what most mothers do? Doesn’t the average/”normal” mother feed her child “on demand” or as soon as the child cries out in hunger? how is this an AP specific trait?

          Reply
          • Emma

            well the ones who schedule feed (as per many parenting books) obviously don’t but yes many mothers demand-feed (by breast or bottle), many mothers go to their babies when they cry in the night rather than sleep train them, many mothers use slings, many mothers use positive discipline rather than physical punishment and a great deal of mothers do other things that are consistent with an AP approach without having ever heard of attachment parenting (not surprising as most AP parents see this as a very intuitive way to parent). Whats your point?, I was simply explaining how an AP consistent approach to feeding was certainly not impossible if a mother returns to work.

          • Ebonita

            “I was simply explaining how an AP consistent approach to feeding was certainly not impossible if a mother returns to work”

            Another fair point. I honestly did not know some mothers schedule fed their infants regardless of them expressing hunger. The notion is such a foreign one to me that I’d never thought anyone would do it (and obviously have never read about it being done anywhere). So again thanks for the information. I’ve learned I likely agree with more AP practices than I disagree with (while still disagreeing pretty solidly with the principles that I don’t connect to).

    • Amy

      Your comments on AP being for ‘just the rich’ shows how little you really know about the parenting style. AP is so much more than just being there for your kids, it’s being there emotionally and helping them learn about who they are and now putting them into the mold of what society wants them to be. I have been an AP parent from the moment my first was born. I didn’t choose it…it chose me. It’s what worked for us. Then I worked full time and he went to a sitter. But we NEVER sleep trained him and he only had breast milk until HE showed an interest. Now with our second, I can’t work so I stay home with her. We are FAR from rich, as are most of the parents in my Attachment Parenting International group.

      So please don’t assume or make comments about something you know nothing about. Just because you didn’t choose to parent your kids that way doesn’t give you the right to knock someone else’s choices.

      Reply
      • SurlySarah

        So well put! :)

        Reply
      • TW

        Here! Here! I began practicing a few of the AP principles when we were new parents. Made less than 25K, had a tiny, modest home, and our choice to parent that way had nothing to do with our income. In fact, I will say that MOST of our parenting style choices have had almost nothing to do with our income. You choose what is most important to you and you make the other choices fit around that. I have a friend who chose (at the very same time) to work almost full time and her parenting style reflected that, as keeping up with her career (medical field) and continuing education was more important to her than a preference for style. No judgment between us, just differing choices and differing paths.

        Reply
      • Anonymous9

        @ Amy, it’s not attachment parenting if you’re leaving the kid with a sitter 40 hours a week while you work full time. AP is the commitment to your time with the child, not simply about sleep schedules or whether they breast feed when they feel like it, which of course your child didn’t when the sitter was sticking a bottle in his/her mouth.

        It’ll be interesting over time to see whether kids who were raised through AP are as thin-skinned and defensive as their parents seem to be.

        Reply
    • Anonymous

      My husband and I are not rich at all, furthest from the spectrum. However we make sacrifices so that one of us is home with the children. When my husband works I’m home and when I work he is home. I also babysit other peoples children so that I don’t have to be away from home working very often. We both have schedules to keep and he has a job to go to everyday (except Saturdays) and the lack of sleep sucks, but it’s not forever. My 6 year old sleeps independently in her own bed every night, we’re still waiting for the other two to sleep full nights. It helps them feel secure and it’s worth it.

      Reply
      • Ebonita

        It’s a privilege to be able to manuever your schedule in this way though. Even if you are not rich (by whatever standard you use to determine this), you are still in a position that MANY other parents are not in. Many are lucky to get maternity leave of any kind. Many consider themselves thankful to even have 80% of their maternity medical costs covered. It’s nice that you guys have scarificed in the ways you have, but recognize that many can’t not due to lack of (or less than) dedication to their children. But because they just cannot make those kinds of concessions while still keeping the lights on and clothing their children.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          Please stop with the class baiting. I live in a neighborhood where pretty much everyone is below the poverty line. It is a mainly immigrant community and many of the mothers naturally practice what would be considered attachment parenting.

          Reply
    • Anonymous

      Most people, in any economic times, don’t wait to have children until they’re financially stable. If more people did, we’d have less kids dumped in day care for the first five years of their lives.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        While attachment parenting is not my thing (from what I know of it), Ms. Bialik seems like a nice person and a good mom. I certainly don’t judge her. But please don’t say that I “dump” my children in daycare. We chose to put our kids in daycare and it has been a great choice for our family- both my kids love it and they are happy, social, and bright. And my husband and I were able to continue our careers, which we also love. I can’t believe that in 2012 people still judge parents who work outside the home and rely on daycare. What nonsense.

        Reply
        • Anon

          I’m sorry that even in 2012 you can’t figure out that PARENTS raising their children is best, not day care workers.

          It’s great that you both have careers that you were able to continue. I’d hate to think that your kids would get in the way of that.

          Why don’t you ask your kids sometime if they’d rather be at day care, or home with mom and/or dad and see what they say.

          Reply
          • Sarah1298742189

            This comment is beyond ridiculous. I was raised by two parents who worked full time jobs and put me in daycare. In spite of this I would NEVER consider myself to be raised by anyone other than my parents. To be honest it sounds like the original poster has a great set-up that allows her entire family to lead happy fulfilling lives.

      • Anonymous

        While attachment parenting is not my thing (from what I know of it), Ms. Bialik seems like a nice person and a good mom. I certainly don’t judge her. But please don’t say that I “dump” my children in daycare. We chose to put our kids in daycare and it has been a great choice for our family- both my kids love it and they are happy, social, and bright. And my husband and I were able to continue our careers, which we also love. I can’t believe that in 2012 people still judge parents who work outside the home and rely on daycare. What nonsense.

        Reply
    • Athene

      I work an 8-5 job. My husband works a 6:30am-3:30pm job. We have a 9 month old who we send to daycare. We practice AP. I nurse on demand and we co-sleep. Yes I have to wake up several times over the course of the night, but then I put my baby to my breast and we all fall back asleep.

      Reply
    • Shanon

      Completely disagree. My husband and I are far from rich but I am able to stay home and practice attachment parenting. We don’t use babysitters and either myself or my husband are with our child. In fact, I actually think the opposite is true: you have to have money to pay babysitters and daycare. We work within a budget and stick to it.

      Stop trying to make this into a class warfare thing. If you want to stay home with your child, you will figure it out. Stop blaming money for everything. Attachment parenting isn’t for everyone, and that is ok, but don’t try to rationalize it by saying only rich people can attachment parent. Sounds ridiculous.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      I dont agree at all, many of the moms I know who work do so to pay for large homes and other stuff they dont need. My family makes the least in my area of So Cal and I chose to stay home. Alot of it is this incredible misnomer that you should buy a home before having kids, thats a HUGE mistake because you might want to stay home and dont care what kind of dwelling you have. Besides, daycare is REALLY expensive.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      not true in the least… I’m in school full time, and the reason I didn’t go back to work after my first was born was that it would cost more to go back than it would to stay home. We don’t have 2 extra pennies to rub together, and I nursed my kids when they “asked” cuddled them anytime, kept them in the bed with me because we didn’t have enough bedrooms to be separate. I still work, and go to school, and I now have 2 children who have never been in daycare, the oldest is in kindergarten now and the youngest will start preschool in the fall. I work/ go to school in the mornings and my husband works nights…the kids are always with a parent. If one wants to make it work, one can.

      Reply
  5. Anon

    I find it condescending to release a book based on a parenting style in which you have no comparison. She has two children both raised the same way- who are not yet grown…and has not raised children any other way. SO, how does she know that her “attachment theory” is in any way superior to people who raise their children to be independent? Have these suckling children (still breastfeeding at 4 1/2) write an article when they are 21 and can’t form relationships or find a wife…

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      You seem very defensive. She specifically states that it is a book on her experience. And to make a snide remark towards her children is pathetic.

      Reply
      • Anon

        The comment towards the children is in fact based on them as adults..when they are unable to create a life for themselves based on their parents inability to allow them to forge relationships away from their parents.There is a time period when children strive to become independent. They need to be able to experience life away from the breast, and generally speaking, they get to have outside interests. I am sorry that your Mother and Father decided to teach you to interpret every comment as an attack. This is a forum, and I am giving my OPINION on the FUTURE of the children. This is not an attack on them. You seem very defensive. Were you breast fed exclusively until you were ten, not allowed to play with others?

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          There is nothing to suggest that children raised this way will have problems forming relationships and leading independent lives in the future. Nor does attachment parenting prevent children from forming relationships away from the parents or prevent them from having “outside interests”. You’re all fired up about something you know nothing about. Take it easy.

          Reply
        • Anonymous

          Your first post said she has no evidence this is a good form of parenting, yet in this post you claim to know what will happen to her children as adults. Can you see the future?

          Reply
          • Emma

            Its not “her” theory, attachment parenting has been practiced for much longer than any other “method” tbh and there is quite a lot of evidence in support of it.

            Do you have any evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful, certainly there is evidence that premature weaning is harmful (in terms of cost to health).

    • Anonymous

      My husband was breast fed until he was five, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with him. As a matter of fact he is a very secure person who carries a strong and wonderful relationship with his mother.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Im part of a community who has three generations of people raised this way, and they are all fabulous. In fact I havent met any that arnt. Also all the teenagers are great with small children and actually enjoy speaking with adults. Theres my anecdotal evidence.

      Reply
    • Local girl

      My husband’s grandfather remembers being 5 years old, playing with kids outside, and going back in the house for a quick nurse. He is a very hard-working, successful man, married for over 50 years to the same woman, with four grown children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He’s the head of a very close family.
      I’ll never understand why some people think that comforting your child by nursing until s/he is ready to stop will hinder their capability to sustain healthy relationships in the future. Actually, the opposite is true: having a healthy, secure, and trusting relationship with your parents creates a secure, independent, and confident human being.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Did you even read the interview? Mayim specifically said her book is more of a memoir than a parenting book. She isn’t dictating to anyone which parenting style is superior to another. She is simply talking about what works best for her family.

      Reply
    • Helen

      I have four grown attachment-parented children who are all married. They formed relationships quite well, thank you. They are all either working or at university, and one has three children. They won’t be writing an article for you, because unlike me, they are too smart to rebut condescending posts like yours about how breastfeeding for longer than you think proper has made them too sucky to live.

      Reply
  6. Danielle

    I love this statement “Some people want to have a conversation with you, and some people just want to be right. I’ve really learned which is which, and know when to smile and say, ‘Thanks for your opinion. This is what works for us and I’m glad you’re doing what works for you.’ ” So true and you see it a lot on this website.

    I lean more towards Attachment Parenting than Gina Ford (do Americans have her?) although wouldn’t say I fit in to either box, you just gotta do what you feel is right for you and your child providing it’s all healthy.
    I have just pre-ordered her book and can’t wait to read.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I would never buy a book from someone who claims to be “attachment parenting” when they themselves didn’t leave their son “attached”. Attachment parenting is about love not abuse.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    I would never buy a book from someone who claims to be “attachment parenting” when they themselves didn’t leave their son “attached”.

    Reply
  9. SMH

    While I don’t agree with attachment parenting everyone is entitled to raise their children how they see fit. What works for one may not work for others.

    That’s a lovely pic of her with her boys.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    I do think this style is more about the parent than the child. I also haven’t heard anyone who is doing this style say they were raised this way and loved it so much they are continuing what their parents did. It seems more like, I never got this as a child so I’m giving it to my child. Which, again, is about the parent’s needs. I would bet that these boys will not raise their children this way, but only time will tell. Maybe they will.

    Also, when you do this style you must change their whole lives. The child doesn’t fit in with the majority so they must be home schooled. Basing a childs education on a childs food intake and lack of wanting them to have a sleep schedule seems counter intuitive. Food and sleep are things that you do to live your life, they should not be what defiines a child’t life.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      “I also haven’t heard anyone who is doing this style say they were raised this way and loved it so much they are continuing what their parents did.”

      The majority of the world has been parenting this way for centuries, they just don’t call it a “style”. Only the industrialized nations have moved away from things like extended breastfeeding and sleeping with their children. Does modern, Western-style parenting produce more confident, well-adjusted children and adults? I’d say no.

      Reply
    • Athene

      Actually, my mother and father practiced Attachment Parenting back before there was a term for it. She just went with what she felt was right. Now that I have a baby, I also practice AP. It’s what feels natural to me and the more I read about it the more I knew I found something that I already agreed with.

      A baby changes your whole life no matter what you do. I work outside the home and my child goes to daycare. When I am with him, I breastfeed on demand and we co-sleep. We have a night-time routine and a bedtime for him, but he has reverse cycled and so still wakes up many times over the night to eat. I figure by the time he’s in high school he’ll be sleeping through the night.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Wouldn’t you agree that “regular” parenting requires you to change the child to suit the parent’s needs/schedule? For example, why is everyone so gung-ho on a baby sleeping throught the night? Because it’s what’s best? No, because the parents need to sleep so they can go to work in the morning. There’s nothing “natural” about that.

      Reply
    • Emma

      nope, plenty of AP parents send their kids to regular school, homeschooling has nothing to do with eating and sleeping. There is no reason why a child who was fed when they were hungry and not left to cry alone at night would fail to “fit in” with the rest of society, I’m not sure why you would think that?

      I was raised by AP parents, and I loved it so much that I didn’t even question that that was how I would raise my children.

      A big part of AP parenting is being child-led, as opposed to more parent-led styles, (“training” an infant to fit in with the parents “needs”) basically you try and work out what YOUR child needs, so yes, its very much about the child.

      Reply
  11. Anonymous

    As an AP parent from way back (my oldest is 17), I can assure you that kids are not warped/ruined/unable to function in society, or unable to become independent.
    The same old, tired arguments against AP parenting, are still circulating. Bottom line: Do what you want with your own kids. Child led weaning, family bed, giving children a voice, it works. The do move to their own beds, they do wean, they do NOT run the house, they get along with others, they are not freaks, they talk to you, it’s still parenting for goodness sakes…it is just much more involved parenting. I have a large family and they are all at different stages of childhood. ~shrug~ My parenting journey is for them, not me. When they are gone, I will do my own thing. Now, I am a mother. Yes I work, we are struggling financially, we have tough days and easy days..just like all of you. It’s not the freakshow that so often gets showcased. Geez…
    I am buying the book. Not because I need anyone to validate my style of parenting, but just to support this lifestyle.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    I was raised this way and I raise(d) my kids this way. Oldest is 21 and has been pretty much on his own after finishing his associates degree. He is working on a BSMath. Second son is 18.5 in the middle of his second year of college. Both are 14+ hours from home. They are pretty darn independent. I worked full time for 10 years, attended school twice and NEVER sleep trained any of them. I homeschooled only 2-3 years depending on the needs of the kid. I have 4 kids that have thrived socially. 2 were combo fed, 2 were allowed to self wean. At 6, 9, 18, and 21 I guarantee you no one is in my bed. The littles migjt if they are 6 but it has been MONTHS. There is no battle here. Generally if they come in the middle of the night, I can snuggle with them and ask them to go back to their bed

    4 things are for sure…
    A child will not nurse forever
    A child will eventually sleep through the night
    A child will eventually sleep in their own bed
    A child grows into whom they are to become and it is our job to guide them in their independence not force it upon them.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    I don’t know if it was attachment parenting or not but my little brother (now 22) “co-slept” with my mom and dad. He stayed in the bed until he was 12 years old. He NEVER slept in his own crib/bed until he was in grade 7. One day- he just decided to sleep in his own bed. (I think puberty helped his decision).
    My father stopped sleeping in the bed when he was around 7 because there was “no room”. He slept in my little brother’s room.
    My little brother was super attached to my mom. He was almost held back for kindergarten because he missed 90 days. if he cried- he didn’t have to go to school. He never had sleep overs because he was scared. He ate whatever he wanted. My parents would make him separate meals because he didn’t like what we had.
    Anyway, he is 22 now, graduated from university and has a girlfriend of 3 years. He’s as normal as anyone else now but seriously I’d never co-sleep. it was soo weird.

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    All that work (on a PhD) to do nothing with it? To each there own, but I’m currently rolling my eyes.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    All that work (on a PhD) to do nothing with it? To each there own, but I’m currently rolling my eyes.

    Reply
  16. COURTNEYMARET

    I liked her before for her work but now I love her. She seems to know what’s really important in life and prizes it. It’s wonderful she’s speaking about it too because, unfortunately, a lot of people only listen to celebrities. As an AP mom myself – one who cosleeps, nursed until my son was just shy of 4…letting him self-wean, and one who will be homeschooling – I take a lot a flack for parenting in a way that is ‘so old-fashioned’ and not approved of by most in this age and society. It’s almost as if you are less intelligent or creepy if you follow nature (what is natural). More like an animal. And yet when you follow nature, you find the answers. It’s interesting to me that she needed to form a community/group of like-minded mothers because I’ve had to do the same. I would have thought in Hollywood there are more people at your grab to choose from. Sort of reassuring in a weird way. But like her, I know this is the way to parent. It feels right and our son is the most delightful, happy, well-adjusted, intelligent little guy you could ever hope to meet. At the end of the day, my little family and how each member of it feels is proof positive that this way – although not for all – is definitely the way to go for us. I couldn’t be happier with my life so the criticism can come all day long. I don’t care :)

    Reply
  17. Tara C

    Cant wait to read the book! I practice attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding (although I wean when I am ready), co-sleeping, baby-wearing, etc and have seen my girls grow up to be exceptional human beings (kind, smart, well-adjusted, and well socialized). Its easy for parents to be judgemental of others differences, but in my opinion it only shows ignorance and immaturity.
    I am not constantly putting down moms who bottle feed, sleep train, and conventionally parent and I’m sure this book isnt either. She is just sharing what is working for her family :)

    Reply
  18. Tara C

    Cant wait to read the book! I practice attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding (although I wean when I am ready), co-sleeping, baby-wearing, etc and have seen my girls grow up to be exceptional human beings (kind, smart, well-adjusted, and well socialized). Its easy for parents to be judgemental of others differences, but in my opinion it only shows ignorance and immaturity.
    I am not constantly putting down moms who bottle feed, sleep train, and conventionally parent and I’m sure this book isnt either. She is just sharing what is working for her family :)

    Reply
  19. JJ

    While I would not call myself an avid Attachment parent I have used bits and pieces in my own parenting technique. I find this interview to be very humble and unassuming. I certainly know parents on all sides who are incredibly sanctimonious and just “want to be right.” We all do what feels right for us, our families and our children. For all the people who felt the need to go negative on this thread….Get over yourselves!

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    I have two children and one was very independent from the time she was born. She self weaned at 9 months when she perferred to use a sippy cup. My son however, is very attached at 3 years old. I have no problem with this and in fact love how close we are. In fact, watching my 3 year old has made my 9 year old more cuddly and interactive with all of us. However, according to the comments, even though we co-sleep and practice a lot of other AP techniques, I cannot consider myself an AP parent because I work outside the home. Ladies, is the point of AP not to judge others? Many people do not work outside the home because they want big houses or fancy cars. Daycare is expensive but there are also alternatives to paying high sums if you have to work. I work because I hold the insurance for our family. My husband has kidney issues and my son has an arachnoid cyst on his brain which requires neurology checkups. We cannot afford to pay for the treatments ourselves. My son is watched by a woman in our neighborhood who loves him. The social interaction is great for him with other children. I feel we are doing the best we can and our children are well rounded and secure.

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    My husband and I practiced some elements of attachment (mainly because my son was adopted as a toddler). We co-slept for almost 2 years, met needs on demand, and I was able to stay home for almost a year. But I needed to return to work. Infertility and adoption doesn’t pay or itself :-)

    I see a lot of folks saying that their children were raised by AP and are thriving. Both my parents worked long hours and sacrificed a lot to live in the best public school district, etc. (No, we weren’t rich; we were even on food stamps for a time.) I have an amazing relationship with my parents (as does my brother), and they didn’t co-sleep (though of course you could crawl in when you had a nightmare) or do everything “right”. But what they did do right, was let my brother and I know everyday that we were loved unconditionally. And that, in my opinion, is the foundation to successfully parenting.

    Reply
  22. Mary J.

    There are several inaccuracies and generalizations in the comments that I would like to address.

    First, attachment theory was described by John Bowlby initially in 1951 in a report for the World Health Organization, and then published in book form in 1953. He stated quite simply that it was essential for good mental health that “an infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother-substitute – one person who steadily mothers him) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment.” The parentheses are the author’s. Mary Ainsworth developed the research tool, the aforementioned “strange situation” to observe Bowlby’s theory. At no time did she suggest that self-soothing was evidence of good attachment. Rather the behavior of the child upon separation predicted the style of parenting. Furthermore, the ability to form adult romantic attachments is evidence of secure attachment in infancy and youth.

    Bowlby’s theory was radical at the time and still causes controversy. He believed that mothers were most naturally suited for the role of primary caregiver and was opposed to the use of daycare. However, even he notes a study in his book way back in 1953 that showed that the infants of mothers who worked outside the home out of economic necessity and used alternative care during working hours, were well-attached when the mothers used a style of parenting sensitive to the child’s needs, what we would now call attachment parenting.

    I have practiced attachment parenting while working full-time out of necessity. Attachment parenting makes parenting easier, not harder. When my children were young, we co-slept, we night-nursed, and I got plenty of sleep. In fact, I was probably more rested than the parents who had to get up and bottle feed their children. My children have never been home-schooled. AP works at any level of income, but especially for low incomes because breastfeeding and homecare are free. If one parent can be at home, then great, but if not, mothers can approach separation sensitively and still raise well-attached healthy children.

    Reply

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