When I reserved this book from my library I had no idea if I would enjoy it or not. I don’t read too many parenting books anymore because my kids are getting older. While attachment parenting is a topic near and dear to me I don’t need a refresher on subjects like breastfeeding, babywearing, and co-sleeping so much. Rather I go for books about specific issues nowadays and geared toward older kids. I think I ended up getting it because I really, really like Mayim Bialik. I loved her show Blossom when I was a child, I loved how she gave up acting to get her degree and PhD in neuroscience, and I REALLY loved how she chose to parent in a holistic, natural, green, and attached way. She just seems like the type of mom I would love to hang out with and be friends with. So who wouldn’t want a peek inside at the inner workings of her house and family?
The book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, was such a breath of fresh air and I enjoyed it so much that I had to share. I devoured and enjoyed every morsel of this book from start to finish, even chapters that discussed baby stuff I will likely never be confronted with again until I have grandchildren. Actually this book really had part of me really longing to have another kiddo so I can experience some things I wasn’t that receptive to when my youngins were babes, like elimination communication. Yet by the end of the book I was sighing in contentment because I still have lots of my parenting journey left and we are in a place now where we can enjoy it without the sleep deprivation. ;)
The opening chapters go into what you can expect to learn and why this is such an important issue. Mayim takes her background in neuroscience and shows that attachment parenting not only makes sense logically, it is based in science as well. There are many scientific reasons and many biological reasons to parent this way and often that gets overlooked by those who would claim attachment parenting is too granola touchy, feely or prone to raising dependent brats. The science does not agree with these latter ideas… at all. Lots of good information to be had here for when you run across naysayers.
The chapters on natural childbirth, breastfeeding, constant holding, co-sleeping, potty learning, etc were all a little irrelevant for me, even though I do still have a six year old in my bed. I loved reading these chapters anyway though. I think this book would have been pretty darn near the perfect book for me back when I became a mom for the first time and I will be recommending it to all the moms-to-be that I come across. I also loved that it is a look inside the life this family unit and it holds nothing back. Being an attached parent can be very isolating in the first few years because you are essentially devoting your life to the very valid needs of your child who wants to nurse on demand, be held constantly, sleep in your arms, and otherwise be the center of your world. You also tend to stay away from social settings where others might try to make your parenting values seem bizarre. Getting to read about another mom experiencing all of this makes you feel less alone.
From here the books goes into consumerism and toys, media in the home, medical interventions, letting kids be kids, and gentle discipline. LOVED it all! There wasn’t anything that I recall that I disagreed with. In fact I think I must have looked like a bobble head with all the head shaking going on to show how emphatically I agreed with Mayim’s point of view on just about everything. I also loved how she kept confirming that despite her belief in these things she was by no means perfect in their practice. Many authors remind you that they are not perfect examples of what they preach and that their ideas are not meant to judge in any way but few get that message across as well and as believably as Mayim Bialik, in my opinion.
My favorite part of the book was the section on mommy needs and keeping your relationships strong. As I have said before, attachment parenting can be very difficult where balance is concerned. When you have young babies your time is devoted to them and their needs and it can be easy to forget that other relationships need nurturing as well. I was not very good about keeping this in mind and my marriage almost collapsed a couple times during those early years. Most attachment parenting books don’t even discuss this all import topic either.
I feel that when our children are young THEY should be the priority. That means breast feeding wherever and whenever baby is hungry, co-sleeping even when you’d rather have your husband all to yourself, and never letting my child cry or go without being held because I have “other things” to do. As my kids get older I think they benefit from seeing parents who love themselves, prioritize some of their own needs, make time for each other and the marital relationship, and have varied interests. As they get older they benefit less from having a shadow to meet their every need and more from seeing good examples of others doing and living for themselves. So in terms of priority for the first five or so years of their lives it was all about them. Now the priority list looks somewhat different but during those early years there were lots of things I could have done to make sure my relationship with my husband was secure and attached as well, even if it never involved a date night or even leaving the house. Thankfully I married a great man who put up with me.
So… I give this book a very enthusiastic two thumbs up and will be recommending it all around. It has sound science, great advice, logical answers to challenging questions and issues, and important information about often overlooked aspects about this style of parenting. Check it out when you have the chance!