I’m a big fan of reading parenting books. I know some people think they distract you listening to your instinct. I believe a good book, with solid footing in science, common sense and compassion can help you separate what you do because it’s left over from your own childhood and how you are naturally wired to parent.
Mayim Bialik’s Beyond the Sling is very much that kind of book. Best known these days for her role as Dr Amy Farah Fowler on insanely popular American sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Bialik has a PhD in neuroscience in real life. She also has a breastfeeding counselling qualification and is mother to two boys. This book serves as a simple, joyful introduction to attachment parenting, the lifestyle she and her sons’ father have chosen for their family.
I read Beyond the Sling as an attachment parent. I nodded along to her description of attachment parenting: “It is for people from all walks of life who seek to parent gently and who believe that an independent adult is one who was allowed to form a healthy dependence and attachment to her caregiver in her formative years.” There was little that was new for me. However, it was so refreshing to read how another family does things on a practical level.
The book is organised around things babies need: a smooth entrance, milk, holding, nighttime parenting, potty. And things they don’t need: stuff, unnecessary medical intervention, pressure and punishment.
There are even a couple of sections on what mothers need, which is great to see since this style arenting is often equated with maternal martyrdom, which it certainly isn’t. You can’t parent well if your own resources are running dangerously low.
What stood out to you in the list around what babies do and don’t need? After reading the intro, I went straight to the potty section! Not that much is written about elimination communication (helping your baby to the potty rather than leaving her to wee and poo in a nappy) and it’s really interesting reading about how it works in a real family context.
Bialik demystifies the practice. I felt pretty reinspired to keep going with it but I’m still only managing to do it on a very part-time basis. The principles that underpin it make a lot of sense to me, though.
Bialik writes: “The investment and effort we put in when our children – no matter how we parent – affects them and us for the rest of their lives. EC is one investment we stand behind (no pun intended) all the way, but I think that the outcomes of EC can be used by parents even if they potty-train the conventional way.”
Then I flipped to the gentle discipline chapter. This truly was a breath of fresh air. We’ve been finding the world of parenting a three-and-a-half-year-old a tricky one. As Talitha develops her opinions and ideas and explores life and its limits, it’s sometimes hard to know how to relate to her in a way that is neither harsh nor permissive.
Bialik defines gentle discipline as: “parenting without violence, relying instead on respectful communication and seeking to see your child not as someone lesser or weaker than you who you can and should control, but rather as a partner in your life and a source of potential joy and loving interaction.”
Her examples of what this looks like for her family are extremely helpful.
I think this book is an especially inspiring read for a new parent who wants to feel able to trust her (or his) intuition. For me, it was both encouraging and entertaining.
I love Mayim Bialik’s writing. I actually read her blog on Kveller for a while before I realised that she was in The Big Bang Theory! I was excited to hear that she was writing Beyond the Sling, though it’s taken me a while to finally read it.
Pinter and Martin have recently republished it for a British audience, which I was delighted to see because I’m a big fan of theirs too. Do check out their other titles.
In fact Pinter and Martin are offering one of my readers the chance to win a copy of Beyond the Sling. Just tell me what stood out to you in the list of things babies do and don’t need and enter the Rafflecopter widget below.
Beyond the Sling is available on the Pinter and Martin website for £7.99 at the time of writing.
Giveaway ends 12.00am on December 24th 2014. Open to UK residents only. Entrants’ email addresses will be passed on to the Circus Queen newsletter – you can opt out at any time.