I haven’t read many parenting books, in fact I haven’t read any… and I wouldn’t say after reading Beyond the Sling that it is a parenting book in that true sense of the word. It’s more of a this-is-how-I-did-things-and-why kind of book. A celebration of the choices Mayim Bialik and her husband rather than a guide of what you should do. It is very much a discussion on their interpretation of attachment parenting.
I really love the style of the book, it’s not prescriptive in anyway – it’s not telling you if you do X, Y and Z you will have a child that does A, B and C. It makes no promises – in fact it mainly reiterates one message – you already know how to parent – you just need to learn to listen to that instinct.
The book is divided in to four sections;
1. Trust Your Instincts – which covers the basics of what attachment parenting is.
2. What Baby Needs – which covers her opinions on birth, breastfeeding, a baby’s need to be held, night-time parenting and elimination communication
3. What Baby Doesn’t Need – covering her opinions that babies/children don’t need stuff, unnecessary medical intervention, pressure or punishment
4. What Mommy Needs – which covers keeping your relationship strong and her thoughts on finding that elusive work/life balance
I found the whole book really interesting, you can feel the passion when you read it, Mayim Bialik believes in everything she writes about. Not it a way which makes you feel like you need to agree, more in a way of “oh wow this is really great and it worked for us, what do you think?” It really feels like there is a dialogue going on (and I read the whole book in my head as if Amy Farrah Fowler – her character in The Big Bang Theory – was reading it to me, which was a little wierd and a lot funny!)
I have to say that it felt nice to read that what my husband and I have been doing is similar in some respects to attachment parenting – and also similar to what Mayim Bialik herself had done – with a P.h.D in neuroscience specialising in the hormones of attachment, you really feel like she knows what she is talking about and that there is reasons behind why I feel like I do and why I have made the choices I have made.
The most affirming sections for me were the ones on breastfeeding (at 18 months Boo is still pretty much breastfed on demand) and night-time parenting (we didn’t stop night feeds until Boo was 11 months old – because it wasn’t until then that we felt she was ready to drop them). That being said there are big differences too – for example we don’t co-sleep with Boo – other than when she is poorly yet at not point did I feel like we were doing it ‘wrong’.
The section which surprised me most was the one on Elimination Communication – I confess I hadn’t even heard of this until I read this book – but essentially it is the school of thought that babies know when they need to go to the toilet and don’t want to sit in their own waste in a nappy – so by learning those signals a parent can remove the need for nappies. I will hold my hands up – I read this open mouthed and in horror – but upon reading further I did grasp the reasoning behind it, but it is not something I could start with Boo now, and I am not sure I would have done with Boo from birth had I known about it (we are currently in a rented house and I am not sure the landlord and his carpets would approve!) but as with the rest of the book it’s very much each to their own.
All in all I have to say I really do love this book, reading it, for me was like an affirmation of what I had been feeling all along. It wasn’t giving me permission to do parent the way I was, nor was it giving me a list of instructions on how I should be parenting, more suggesting that there were reasons why I was parenting the way that I was and showing me that these types of things had worked for the author and maybe they, or some variation of them would work in my family.