She rose to fame as a child star in the early '90s sitcom Blossom and later became a fan favorite in the hit show The Big Bang Theory, but Mayim Bialik has also hit headlines for her honest and frank views on parenting.
Not only does Mayim play neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler on Big Bang, which is now in its 12th and final season, but she also holds a real-life Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. She’s also mom to boys Miles and Frederick and an outspoken advocate for attachment parenting.
What is attachment parenting? It’s a philosophy that promotes strong emotional bonds between children and parents through rules that might seem unconventional, even controversial, to some people.
Mayim, however, is undeterred by what the rest of the world thinks. In fact, as the author of books Boying Up: How to Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant and Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, she’s loud and proud of the unusual methods she uses to raise her kids.
Her refreshing perspective on motherhood, whether people like it or not, certainly makes for eye-opening reading.
20 They've Never Worn Diapers (Yes, It Is Possible)
Like a lot of Mayim’s parenting, the method of Elimination Communication is not for everyone. Also known as Natural Infant Hygiene, it’s a method of reading a baby’s cues to help them avoid needing to pee or poop in a diaper.
Just by learning her sons’ non-verbal cues, Mayim was able to do away with diapers before they could even crawl.
In an article on Today, she wrote: “EC is practiced by women all over the world, and has been the only way to care for a baby’s hygiene in the thousands of years before super-absorbent diapers became something every diaper company thinks you need to have.”
19 Sleep Training Was Never In The Cards
Like her character on The Big Bang Theory, Mayim has a doctorate in neuroscience, so it’s no surprise that she looks at parenting through a scientific lens. This could not be truer than on the topic of sleep training.
On the blogsite Kveller, Mayim writes: “Nature designed it so that mammal mothers would drop everything to tend to their crying baby. Any sleep training or sleep modification regimen that involves your baby crying and you not tending to it is going against your natural mammalian wiring.” So no, sleep training was never going to happen for this science-minded mom.
18 They Don't Go To Regular School
Mayim has talked extensively about her family’s decision to home-school. Quite simply, she didn’t think the rigidity of a school system would foster a genuine interest in learning.
“We see what our son is interested in, and gently introduce new ideas. We listen to him and try not to overwhelm him, or push him when he’s not ready. Our general rule is, ‘Don’t fight the kid,’” she told the Washington Times.
“For those who believe parents know their child the best, and that every child’s needs are different, home-schooling works. I think we have to do what’s best for the family, without judging others’ choices, and let the kids be the proof.”
17 Forget About Antibiotics For Illness
Mayim’s comments on child meds have previously landed the actor in warm water. Her sons have never taken antibiotics and are, luckily, perfectly healthy, but it's a highly controversial topic.
"Between our two boys, ages six and three-and-a-half, we have dealt with just about every ailment, sickness, and flu out there. However, neither of our sons has ever been on antibiotics, nor do we give them Tylenol, Motrin, antihistamines or cough syrup,” she said.
“I've learned from talking to other moms that almost everything you have right now in your home and your heart is enough to deal with most everything. I'm not arguing to be negligent.”
16 They'll Never Be Left To Cry It Out
There is an old school parenting philosophy that too much kindness to a child will result in a whiney, dependent adult. Not so, says Mayim, who has been open about her thoughts on the issue.
Attachment parenting argues that caregivers should not only respond to crying when it happens but must try to prevent it in the first place by reading the early signs that the child is about to cry — and there is scientific research to support this theory.
According to Psychology Today, research has shown that parents who respond to the needs of the child before it gets distressed are more likely to have children who are independent.
15 'Please' And 'Thank You' Are Not Encouraged
As soon as babies start babbling, most parents are quick to stress the importance of adding “please” and “thank you” to their expanding vocabularies. However, Mayim Bialik has taken a much more relaxed approach to teaching her kids manners. By constantly repeating these words and demanding little ones do the same, she believes the words lose all meaning, and she’d rather her kids gave natural, genuine expressions of appreciation.
Writing for Today, Mayim said: “Before our sons were old enough to do so spontaneously, my husband and I would say ‘water, please’ when our sons needed water, and we would say ‘thank you’ when they got it. This taught them how society functions without us forcing it down their throats.”
14 Don't Say Sorry... Unless It's Sincere
As with “please” and “thank you,” Mayim has encouraged her kids to use spontaneously authentic responses when it comes to apologizing. Rather than resorting to the oft-repeated word “sorry,” she’d rather her children have the free-will to express themselves as they see fit, and hopefully develop a sincere way of communication as a result.
A word like “sorry,” she believes, limits their vocabulary, as there are so many other words and actions to use to express remorse and regret instead. While this approach sounds unconventional, as she told Today, her boys understand the value of politeness perfectly well as a result.
13 Eating Animal Products Is A No-No
Combining her love of Jewish food and vegan cooking, Mayim released her own cookbook: Mayim’s Vegan Table. In it, she shares her tasty go-to recipes that she prepares for her children.
Talking to Billion Vegans, she revealed the challenges of raising a vegan family.“My ex and I got a lot of challenges from people surrounding us, including our families, about nutrition. However, with a little reading and a little preparation, it is not hard to raise children vegan at all. They are very healthy,” she said.
“You can raise vegan kids for sure, and you don’t need to be rich to do it. It’s not about buying expensive food.”
12 'Boys Will Be Boys' Is Never An Excuse For Bad Behaviour
The Emmy-nominated actor is just as outspoken about the patriarchy as she is parenting, calling out gender inequality when she sees it. This is why you’ll never hear her say “boys will be boys,” and why her sons will never be allowed to blame bad behavior on their gender.
While promoting her book, Boying Up: How to Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant, Mayim told Salon: “It’s time to stop dismissing things as ‘boys will be boys’ and that’s something I talk about specifically in the book. What does that mean? A lot of times, it means accepting unacceptable behavior because we think we don’t know what to do about it.”
11 The Use Of Smart Screens And TV Is Restricted
How much and how little we let children use technology is an issue most parents battle with, and Mayim is no different. Writing on her website, Grok Nation, the actress admits that her boys were initially raised with zero tech, “not even a toy with a battery for the first several years of their lives,” but has softened in her stance as they’ve got older. Her eldest now has a cellphone and both children are given monitored access to video games.
Her boys, however, don’t enjoy unlimited access to the television, cellphones, computers or tablets. They’re still encouraged to play and learn the old fashioned way, through art, outdoor play, and reading.
10 They Can't Ignore The Environmental Consequences Of Their Actions
A huge part of Mayim’s parenting philosophy has been instilling her kids the importance of respecting the planet. She believes that being kind to the environment is not only vital for protecting its future but also fosters kindness and compassion towards other people. Being kind to the earth is what happens when people are kind to you, she argues.
Writing in her book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, Mayim said: “A green style of parenting seeks to create a generation of children who love and respect people and the Earth because they have been loved and respected by their parents.”
9 Never Turn A Blind Eye When Others Need Help
Raising happy, healthy, well-rounded children is all any parent wants — and that’s the ultimate goal of attachment parenting, too. At its core, it’s about believing that little people have a voice that needs to be heard, and Mayim has always helped her sons to understand that they are their own people. A big part of that is taking responsibility.
In an interview with Today, Mayim revealed that she often tells her boys: "If you are in a place where there are bad things going on, leave and report it. It is your responsibility to protect a man or a woman that you see in a dangerous situation. Get out, get help, call the police. That's on you.”
8 No Toys Are Gifted In The Holiday Season
The holiday season has become a huge commercial monster. Well, not in Mayim’s household — the actor has taken a stand.
Along with her ex-husband, it was decided the couple’s children were not receiving toys this time of year. Writing on her website, Grok Nation, she admits they get so many goodies throughout the year, especially on birthdays, that they simply didn’t need more stuff.
“When I was a kid, Hanukkah meant new socks and pajamas and a calendar. And a new dreidel. That’s kind of what we stick to. My boys complain, but they know what I’m going to say: 'There are children who don’t even have three square meals a day all year round much less whatever toys they ask for.'”
7 The Internet Isn't Used For Education
How much access children have to the Internet and the kind of information they have access to is a subject that terrifies many parents. It’s no easy task raising kids in the digital age and knowing where to set the boundaries. Mayim is no different to any other concerned mama, but her approach is to try and teach her kids unfamiliar things before the Internet does.
Mayim believes it is vital to talk to her young boys about certain words, aspects of culture, and even the birds and the bees, before they seek out the information for themselves online. She said, "If you don't teach them, the Internet's going to.”
6 There's No Playroom In The House
Mayim doesn’t just object to excessive consumerism doing the holiday season, she believes that society is generally way too obsessed with buying new stuff, especially when it comes to baby products and toys.
Toys that can help her sons develop new skills are okay, and she even leant her support the Fisher Price line of Think & Learn toys because they encourage STEM skills. She said, “You don’t have to look far to find a way to work science into everyday activities.”
But because she prefers to encourage imaginative play and creativity through art and music making, there is no need for a playroom in her family home.
5 They Attend Regular Soccer Practices
Though attachment parenting might seem controversial at first, it’s important to remember that its aim to simply to create happy, healthy little people. It’s not about depriving kids of a normal childhood.
Like so many other mamas, Mayim is a soccer mom and she shared her experience on the website Grok Nation: “It’s a great sport. It teaches teamwork, encourages skillful athleticism, and it’s a great community sport,” she wrote.
“As someone who loves sports and is very competitive, I love watching them play and I try to not cheer too loud, but sometimes my ex has to remind me to chill when I’m doing celebration dances on the sidelines after a goal.”
4 They Make Their Own Halloween Costumes
For the first few years of their lives, Mayim was the stay-at-home primary caregiver to her two boys. Since becoming a working mom, she admits that making the time to get crafty isn’t always easy.
On her website, however, she wrote about the joy she feels when they do ask for her help with arty projects, like making Halloween costumes.
“My firstborn asked for help with his Halloween costume. From me! He wanted a steampunk getup; hat, vest, pants, the whole bit. Again, I left the ground and felt touched by an angel. I live for crafting things, but my ex is always the one to do it.”
3 They're Encouraged To Treat Everyone With Respect
Raising boys presents unique challenges, which is the subject of Mayim’s book Boying Up: How to Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant. But in the wake of the #MeToo campaign, it’s a subject that the scientist and actor has returned to time and again.
In a viral video posted on her social media pages, Mayim questioned whether she, as a mom, was doing everything in her power to ensure her boys would never, ever in a million years harm a woman in any way. She challenges all parents of boys to ponder this, and find a way to help boys understand that they must, without exception, treat people equally, and be know how consent works.
2 The Eldest Has A Cellphone
In 2018, when her eldest son, Miles, was 13, he was finally allowed a cellphone of his own. It was not a decision Mayim and her ex-husband took lightly, as she explained on Grok Nation: “He’s being a relatively normal 13-year-old I would say. Most kids we know have phones. And that’s not to say that I let what other kids do dictate what my kids do. But I’m aware that we are one of the last holdouts. My ex-husband and I discussed it, and sometimes in divorce–and I suppose in marriage as well–you have to compromise.”
1 They're (Finally) Allowed To Play Video Games
Her boys were raised with no battery-operated toys, no TV, and no movies for years. But these days, the children are allowed monitored access to video games — and Mayim is still struggling with her feelings about it.
As she explained: “I am skeptical, honestly. I want to put fences and walls around this so badly. My ex-husband and my Manfriend both assure me that this interest my boys have in video games is nothing to be troubled about.”
Despite her concerns, Mayim is relying on two good, trusted men in her life to help her relax about it.