Mayim's Most Important Role

Bialik's Book Sheds Light on Unusual Parenting Style

Attachment Parent: Mayim Bialik is a proponent of attachment parenting, which involves ‘positive discipline’ and sharing a bed with your children.
courtesy of mayim bialik
Attachment Parent: Mayim Bialik is a proponent of attachment parenting, which involves ‘positive discipline’ and sharing a bed with your children.

By Jordana Horn

Published March 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

“[Attachment parenting] is not a rich, celebrity, white lifestyle,” she says. “People all over the world can pursue this and can parent this way. I wanted to put a face on attachment parenting that was both scientifically based and intuitively makes sense.”

Bialik has another goal: “to lend support to an entire global community of attachment parents who live in the shadows.”

“There are people who sleep with their kids, for example, who are afraid to talk about it” for fear of social recrimination, Bialik says. “I’d like to bring some of this out of the closet, as it were, so that people who choose to parent this way can feel confident to spread it to other people.”

Bialik’s confidence in her method of attachment parenting radiates off the pages of “Beyond the Sling” — in a charming, rather than self-righteous, way. Disarmingly, in each chapter, she anticipates her readers’ reactions to ideas that some might deem more hippie-dippie than practical (like co-sleeping with children: Bialik shares a family bed with her husband and two sons) and pre-emptively addresses their questions.

“You think I never have sex with my husband in my bed?” Bialik writes. “You’re right!”

Bialik also readily acknowledges the challenges of attachment parenting.

“Breastfeeding is very physically difficult, and elimination communication is physically tedious,” Bialik says. “Most of all, it’s a psychological shift in parenting a way that most of our culture doesn’t understand or support, and having to confront everything around that has been the hardest. Discipline, for example, takes twice as long and is the hardest part of being a parent — and attachment parenting necessitates that you personally have to look in the mirror when disciplining your child and confront your own lack of patience.”

Bialik stresses that being an attachment parent and being Jewish jibe well with one another.

“For me, I feel a connection with Jewish mothers no matter how they parent,” she says. (Bialik, like this writer, is a contributing editor at the Jewish parenting website kveller.com.) “Margaret Mead wrote an essay observing a religious Jewish family, and a lot of what they do is what attachment parents do — emphasis on holding, rocking, singing, cooing, adoration and encouragement of nursing. It’s very interesting historically to see that I’m part of a tradition that is a very old culture.”

Bialik’s work-life balance is arguably trickier than most: Few women, after all, are attempting to balance motherhood with a role in a hit TV show. “Right, no one else at the park is in a sitcom,” Bialik laughs. “That’s not really what life looks like. For us, the answer is my husband.”

After Bialik stayed home with the children for a few years, now Bialik’s husband stays home with the children as she works.

“Now I’ve become the person at work all day, and it’s hard,” she confesses. “I feel like something was taken away from me, and it was — I was home and knew what the dynamic was like, and now I leave them in the care of their father.”

“It’s complicated,” she says. “But what part of parenting isn’t?”

For the moment, Bialik is enjoying the chaos of her newest role of author. “It’s like having a kid you send to boarding school, but it’s a newborn,” Bialik says, describing the imminent prospect of seeing the book she wrote on bookstore shelves. “You’re just thinking, ‘Go into the world and do something good.’”

Jordana Horn is a lawyer and writer working on her first novel.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.