A trip down memory lane with Mayim BialikIt's been a long time since I've had babies, so one might wonder why I felt compelled to pick up Beyond The Sling by Mayim Bialik.It was a triple draw for me; a book written by an actress on one of my favourite TV shows, about the style of parenting I've used from the beginning, and with the insight of a PhD in neuroscience. Winning!
I didn't come to the book for advice, (although the reminders about communication with our children were a valuable boost), but I found myself remembering fondly my childrens' early years.Birthing, nursing, co-sleeping; all amazing, foundational acts that I believe are the most important things I have done in this world. Some of my strongest memories are of my husband carrying our eldest in the sling to come meet me at work so he could nurse on my lunch break ( I returned to full time work for a year and a half after my oldest was born, with my husband and I off shifting so we were his only caregivers, and my son nursing and drinking expressed breastmilk; the extreme challenges I faced nursing my daughter, the lactation consultants and La Leche League Leaders who helped us, and, I have come to believe saved her life; the joys of warm babies snuggled between us at night. Such joy.
Beyond the Sling is an apologetically pro attachment parenting book, and I will admit that I would only get it as a shower gift if I knew the parents were investigating AP. Nor am I quite as hardcore as Dr Bialik and her family; I never practiced elimination communication, and I am much more likely to seek Western medical care (although I think we'd both agree that no cure can beat the preventative effects of healthy eating and exercise!)
But what I want to touch on in closing is not just a review of the book. One criticism I could see it coming under is that Dr Bialik's children are still very young, and the proof is not yet in the pudding. I want to assure any readers who read the book and have these concerns that this way of parenting DOES work in the long term. My kids are 15, 13 and 10; they all weaned from the breast and family bed at their own rate, which was different for every child. As I type, my teenagers are on their way home from a week's church camp in another state. See, Gram, they separated, they slept on their own, and without any blips! (I had to extort good-bye hugs from them by holding onto their pocket money. Surely not pure AP! Oh well.) I have always believed, like Dr Bialik, that manners should be "caught not taught", and that's worked beautifully! Amazing that your typical child really can become " the most polite child I've seen all day" just by having it modeled for them, and extended to them. Both at home and at my job in the church nursery, I rarely have to use coercive discipline. Why do I think that's so? Also touched on in this book; "Many families using gentle discipline seem to have more rules and expectations..." (Emphasis mine) I always make my expectations clear to children ( whether my own or not); I make sure they know that I need their help to make sure things get done, and I expect that children CAN be contributing members of whatever group they are in. They will almost always rise to the challenge. My kids are amazing, polite, hardworking members of society, and beyond a little hormone fueled drama, I have yet to see any of the "horrors" that are supposed to come with having teenagers. Attachment parenting works, from birth to college and I am sure, beyond.
You can read Mayim Bialik's writing on Jewish parenting at Kveller