If you wanted to find an “aishes chayil,” a woman of valor, you probably wouldn’t think television was the best place to look. But if you switch on the popular sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” you can catch a glimpse of one. Mayim Bialik, who plays nerdy scientist Amy Farrah Fowler on the show, is a woman of so many dimensions that each one could take a lifetime to pursue. She’s a former child actress from the popular TV show “Blossom” who has successfully transitioned into adulthood. She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience (yes, really!). She’s an observant Jew. And she’s an avid “attachment parenting” advocate with a new book, “Beyond The Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way” (Touchstone).
During a telephone interview from her home in Southern California, Bialik, 36, who characterizes herself as a “Type A” person, recounts her journey into parenthood. She became pregnant with the first of her two sons — Miles and Frederick, now 6 and 3, respectively — while in graduate school, and recalls having done ample reading to determine her approach to her upcoming role as a parent. “I tried to parse out what made sense and what spoke to me,” Bialik recalls.
Her research led her to believe that attachment parenting was far and away the best way to raise children.
Attachment parenting is a school of thought that encourages developing more empathetic children through empathetic parenting. The method involves “positive discipline” and emphasizes facets of parenting like breastfeeding, holding children, co-sleeping with the child and positive discipline — much different from popular doctrines such as “cry it out.”
Bialik, a self-professed hippie, concedes that some elements of attachment parenting initially struck her as ”crunchy.” She was particularly taken aback when she learned about elimination communication — teaching babies how to communicate their need to go to the bathroom without diapers.
“That was an example of something that sounded crazy even for me! But I realized that that’s what we lose when we don’t live in communities anymore. You grow up with your comfort zone… and then just say, ‘Well, x worked for me,’” Bialik says. “But both the Jewish tradition and the academic one introduce the concept of two sides to each issue.”
Bialik’s backgrounds as an academic and actress reveal her willingness to examine concepts and to reinvent herself. With her book, she hopes to draw positive attention to a parenting style that many people don’t understand.