Title: Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way
Author: Mayim Bialik
Publication Year: 2012
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Review: As someone who watched the show Blossom growing up and watches The Big Bang Theory now, I probably would have been interested in reading this book no matter what the author had to say. However, as someone who also practices many of the tenets of attachment parenting (breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping), I was especially interested in this book.
Overall, I would say, if one would like to learn more about attachment parenting, this is a very good, non-threatening, friendly place to start. Over and over the author reiterates that her way may not be your way and how what she does works for her, but might not work for you. She touches on the science behind attachment theory without being too technical. She very clearly and I think convincingly explains why she chooses to parent the way she does and is very generous in sharing the details of her personal life as they relate to how she has parented her two kids.
That said, while the book was a quick and interesting read, it wasn’t particularly helpful to me, because on almost every topic I either found myself to already be in complete agreement with her or, in the cases where we disagree, not convinced enough to change my ways, though she definitely made me think a little more deeply about parenting practices I take for granted.
For example, she chooses not to teach her kids “academic” areas like the alphabet, counting, or even colors. Initially, to me, this just seemed silly. Now that I recognize that some people choose to parent this way in the belief that it will make their kids more curious and interested in learning in the long term, I think it’s an interesting experiment.
When my son was a toddler, he loved labeling things. Whether it was insects, kitchen appliances, car make and models, or letters and numbers, he took pride in what he knew. I can’t imagine having withheld the labels he loved. Similarly if you teach your kids what words like big, small, rough, and smooth mean, I don’t see what the harm is in teaching them colors. It just gives them another way to describe things.
I thoroughly agree that kids shouldn’t be pressured into an academic setting too young, but learning that takes place naturally should be encouraged I think. Similarly, as long as there isn’t pressure or forcing, I think it’s appropriate to teach kids that it makes people feel good if you say please and thank you. My son learned by 18 months that he was more likely to get what he wanted when he accompanied his request with the sign for “please”. Even now, a couple years later, I sometimes marvel at how I managed to raise such a polite kid.
Overall, I would say I agree with (and am already doing) about 80 percent of what she recommends. Even the areas where we disagree, I think she makes good points. I choose to vaccinate my children, but I can understand why people would choose not to vaccinate theirs. I don’t think I ever would have considered potty-training my newborn, and I still think it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever attempt it with future children, but I now have a lot more respect for people that choose to use elimination communication.
Also, I believe that sometimes my kids need to be told how a situation is going to go. I want them to share their toys even when they would rather not, but I can see the value in letting the skill of sharing develop more naturally. I think this book has a wealth of information. It just had very little effect on how I live my daily life. (Personal Rating: 8/10)