• Mon, Jan 24 2011

Mayim Bialik and I Parent Very Differently, But That Doesn’t Make Either Of Us Wrong

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Mayim Bialik, formerly known as Blossom, has a completely different parenting style than I do.  Mayim is an attachment parenting poster-mama.  She recently started to blog about her experiences, detailing breastfeeding on demand well into the toddler years, bed-sharing and natural childbirth.  She also seriously loves baby slings.  So yea, we’re just a tad bit different.

Mayim’s post has racked up quite a few dismissive, judgemental and downright nasty responses from moms everywhere who find her practices gross, unrealistic or a combination of the two.  Her belief in “gentle discipline” may have stirred the greatest controversy.  This type of discipline generally includes no spanking or time-outs.  It’s more of a lead-by-example approach.  Unsurprisingly, plenty of mothers are positive that Bialik’s children will be horrendous as they get older, with one commenter going as far as saying, “…thanks to self-righteous, know-it-alls that think like this airhead, our society is full of narcassistic, entitled brats.”  I would like to note here that Mayim Bialik is actually Dr. Mayim Bialik: she got her Ph.D in neuroscience from UCLA.  So I don’t think “airhead” applies here.  Maybe it’s just because I love The Big Bang Theory, but I feel a little defensive of Bialik on that one.

But don’t worry, plenty of AP parents have jumped to Bialik’s defense, shouting down those horrible parents who are ruining their children’s lives through junk food and television.  Honestly, I’ve never seen the word uneducated used more frequently in my entire life.  Note to these attachment enthusiasts, using the words “uneducated” and “ignorant” to describe everyone who doesn’t adhere to your parenting philosophy is the reason that everyone thinks your elitist pricks.

Basically, everyone is using their strongest fightin’ words to let the world know that their way is the right way.  The funniest (or saddest) part about this argument is how Mayim ended her post.  It went a little like this:

“I do not judge anyone, because that’s not what my job on this earth is. My job is to do my best for my kids: to be the best mama I can be to them.

The sisterhood and community of mothering and parenting has been lost because of how we have spread out geographically from our families of origin. The Internet has connected us in a way we never imagined, and in this way, I get to share with you what works for our little perfectly imperfect family. It may not work for you and your family, but I hope that it might let you see that some of us are doing our best in our own way; not because we think we’re better, but simply because it’s best for us.”

There are so many articles out there telling mothers how wrong they are.  But Mayim Bialik’s is not one of them.  She works hard, throughout the whole post, to explain why her parenting choices work for her without insulting those who choose differently.  In fact, her only use of the word “best” was when describing breast milk as the best nutrition for babies.  And yea, that’s kind of been proven.

Bialik’s choices are not the same ones I made.  Most likely, we will continue to parent our children very differently.  That doesn’t mean that either one of us will be better or right or raise better children.  That doesn’t mean that we couldn’t learn something from each other.  (I’m not calling myself an expert, but I think mothers can learn a lot from each other all the time, no matter who they are.)  We simply choose to parent differently.  That’s it.  No nasty words needed.  Bialik found a parenting style that works for her and her family, and I don’t think anyone should be criticized simply for sharing their experience.  The most important part of parenting is finding a system that works for you, whether easily defended on the internet or not.

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  • Susan

    Thank you for this post! I read Mayim’s post and loved it. I do lean towards attachment parenting, but by no means go as far as Mayim. I was appalled by the comments following her post. I too was saddened by the irony of the comments in comparison to Mayim’s comments on the internet helping to bring mothers together. Thank you for your mature comments on the discussion. Why are we all so nasty these days?