Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mayim Bialik on Natural Parenting

This week we are talking to actress and new author, Mayim Bialik, long-time Holistic Moms Network member and Celebrity Spokesmama about her new book Beyond the Sling.

We are excited to learn of the release of your book, “Beyond the Sling”. What inspired you to write a parenting book?

After writing for Kveller.com armed with my Holistic Moms Network (HMN) parenting tips and experiences, I was interviewed separately by celebrity mama Ali Landry and then Theresa Strasser; both noted that although they would never practice attachment parenting (AP), I made it sound logical, non-judgmental, and purposeful. Theresa’s book agent asked to talk to me and told me he thinks we have a book to write…4 months later we had a proposal ready.

How is your book different from a “how-to” parenting book?

The book is more memoir and anecdotal than instructional. You may not want to do what I describe, but the principles of what we do (such as the neuroscience of bonding, the facts about interventions in labor, etc.) can be applied to any parenting style. With the exception of hitting children (which I never would advocate), it’s not my business if any one person breastfeeds of cosleeps; that’s their personal decision. I only talk about what works for us and why it makes sense evolutionarily and practically.

As a holistic, attached parent, many of the parenting choices you make are considered controversial. How do you manage the stress of being scrutinized or even criticized for your choices?

Getting educated about why our choices are supported by medical fact (such as natural birth, breastfeeding, and carrying your baby). Finding your tribe is crucial, creating the sisterhood that mammals need (I found HMN and would have lost my mind if I had to hear one more “mom’s group” tell me I was spoiling my baby!). Learning to stop caring what others think of you. It has to work for your family, and you will never please everyone. Trust me, have tried!

Sometimes it's hard to parent holistically. What advice would you give to that seasoned holistic mama when they feel like throwing in the towel?

Know where to bend and where to break. When my patience runs low and I feel overwhelmed and touched out and like I am running on fumes, I remember that the dishes don’t need to be done today. The meal doesn’t have to be picture perfect today. And I may need to serve non- whole wheat pasta if that’s all there is in the cupboard and that’s ok too! I need to find ways to reclaim patience, love myself in my imperfection, and give my kids a break.

How would you respond to the tenet that parenting holistically is truly a journey and each of us are on our own various different paths?

I think no one gets to tell other people how to parent. You never know what someone has been through, what’s hard for them, why they do things differently than you do. Every one deserves respect and support, and education and resources. But I have learned (the hard way) that judging others and not having compassion and assuming the best about them only makes me bitter and resentful.

Attached parenting does not necessarily mean green/sustainable or healthy. Has finding support through organizations like the Holistic Moms Network helped you on your parenting journey?

It’s a really special kind of parenting to do it the green way, and it’s true that it is separate from AP. HMN was literally the only place I felt totally understood: from natural birth, breastfeeding, bedsharing, and gentle discipline to reducing toxic chemicals in the home, living a simple (and beautiful!) life free of consumer madness, and eating in a way that honors our bodies and the earth. If I could have created a parenting group that was made for all of my proclivities, it would look pretty much exactly like the HMN.

What is one of your biggest parenting challenges?

Balancing my needs and my kids’ needs; not taking any time to recharge my batteries. I don’t mean elaborate spa retreats away from my kids; I mean that I need to d little things to remind myself that I exist separate from being a mama.

Any words of wisdom for expectant parents?

Trust your intuition. You don’t need a book: the baby is the book. The baby’s needs and the baby’s wants. Ignore anyone who judges you or questions your authority as your child’s best protector and guide. Find your tribe!

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