Mayim Bialik could have faded into obscurity like countless other child stars when her run on the four-year hit NBC sitcom “Blossom” came to an end in 1994. And in fact, she chose to leave acting behind, heading off to UCLA to study an entirely different profession: neuroscience.
Now, after 17 years, she’s made an improbably big comeback into the public consciousness, both as an actress on the smash CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” and as the author of “Beyond the Sling,” a book advocating the controversial practice of attachment parenting.
She’ll be discussing and signing the book at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at Vroman’s Bookstore, in Pasadena, where she grew up.
“When I finished ‘Blossom,’ I wanted to pursue neuroscience, because I always loved studying science under my tutors on the show,” says Bialik, who earned her doctorate in the field. “But eventually I realized I didn’t want to be a researcher my whole life, and once my kids reached an age of some independence, I felt I could go back to acting and wound up with the perfect fit.”
Indeed, winding up on a sitcom about science nerds at Caltech was perfect, and the shooting schedule was surprisingly simple enough to allow Bialik ample opportunity to write “Sling.” The book teaches readers about attachment parenting, a theory popularized by physicians Dr. William Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon in which parental intuition and accommodating a child’s natural rhythms are considered key to successful parenting.
The philosophy is rooted in the idea that using gentle discipline — getting a child to behave without yelling, threatening or using time-outs — works better than harsher means. It also embraces “co-sleeping,” in which kids are allowed to sleep with their parents until they make their own decision to sleep on their own, even if it means sharing a bed until they are 7 or 8 years old.
Add in the philosophy’s endorsement of “baby wearing,” using a sling to keep the baby close to parents as much as possible, and of breastfeeding until the child decides to wean on its own, and attachment parenting has become controversial because it’s so different from modern norms. But Bialik passionately defends the practice and even points out an impressive result of it.
“The fact is, these techniques were used everywhere until 200 years ago and are still used in most parts of the planet today, because they establish a strong family bond and have profound benefits for children,” says Bialik. “Kids (raised this way) are so sharp and in tune that I teach neuroscience to 11 kids ages 11 to 16 in our home-school community.”
With her life in full swing as a mother, actress and now writer, Bialik is excited about both where she’s at and the opportunities that lie ahead. In fact, promoting “Sling” has put her in the middle of a media whirlwind, with appearances on shows like “The View” and “Good Morning America” during a trip to New York City last week.
But ultimately, she is defiantly proud of her involvement with the growing AP movement.
“This is about me and my child deciding what’s best for the individual child, rather than having society set norms that can’t possibly make sense for every single kid,” says Bialik. “Whether they’re 3 years old or 5 years old, they can still have individual needs and limits, and if people just give this a chance they’ll see it’s profoundly effective.”
Mayim Bialik discusses and signs “Beyond the Sling” at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Mar. 15, at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Call (626) 449-5320 or visit vromans.com.
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