Why Mayim Bialik returned to TV after getting her PhD

It may seem like Mayim Bialik's character on "The Big Bang Theory," Amy Farrah Fowler, was created just for her — they're both doctors who hold degrees in neuroscience — but the former child star had to audition for the role along with six other "quirky" actresses. "There was nothing special about me," she tells omg!. But clearly there is something about Bialik because she's been nominated for an Emmy after two years as Sheldon's (Jim Parsons) "girl who is a friend" on the CBS sitcom.

Returning to TV in 2010 after a long hiatus during which she got her PhD may seem odd, but for Bialik, 36, it was a no-brainer. With two young sons (Miles, almost 7, and Fred, 4), the former "Blossom" star was looking for a way to spend as much time with them and still earn a living — and being a research professor can have long hours. "I figured actors never work, so it's the perfect job to have," jokes Dr. Bialik. "I started auditioning, and I had never heard of 'Big Bang Theory,' then I did the guest spot and a year-and-a-half later, it's turned into a regular job. It's kind of amazing, I'm really shocked … I'm glad that I completed my PhD and I'm very proud of it, but the life of a research professor would not have suited my needs in terms of what kind of parenting I wanted to do."

The kind of parenting Bialik and her husband of nine years, fellow academic Michael Stone, favor is called "attachment parenting," a controversial philosophy that promotes a strong emotional bond between children and parents using practices such as breastfeeding as long as the child wants and sleeping in the same bed. The actress, who wrote a book about it called Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, even home schools her oldest boy, Miles. While Bialik is shooting scenes for her TV show, her stay-at-home husband handles the lessons during the day. But when she's not on set, Bialik teaches her 7-year-old Hebrew and piano. If that's not enough, she even educates other children in their homeschooling community on the subject of neuroscience.

Bialik and her husband first learned about attachment parenting through friends before they welcomed their own two sons. The actress also studied the topic as part of her thesis work. "What appealed to me and my husband was not really the kind of hands-on all-the-time parenting that it looked like our friends were doing, but as the kids got older, they weren't the kind of parents that were yelling or putting their kids in the corner or doing timeouts. They were not ruled by fear or by anger or threats, and that's honestly what appeals most to me and my husband," shares Bialik, who is raising her sons vegan.

But she's quick to add that attachment parenting also has its challenges. "[My husband and I] have not been on a proper evening date in seven years, but that will happen," says Bialik. "Yeah, if you sleep in the same bed as your children it's probably not the same place you're going to have sex … I know people with many more children than I — with far less resources and support from their husbands — who have wonderful marriages and are happy living this life because it's worth it for the relationship for the entire family."

Although the idea of attachment parenting has become more popular in recent years, it still has its detractors, and Bialik acknowledges that there are many misconceptions. "I think the main one is that we raise spoiled children … I know plenty of spoiled children who don't come from houses like this. I know plenty of spoiled children who are hit, who are not breastfed. There's not really a formula. There's no statistical scientific long-term evidence that this style of parenting is at all bad for children. In fact, we're starting to see in the first research indicating that it is good for children to not be hit, to be gently-parented, to be encouraged to have early dependence for later independence."

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Things have been going so smoothly in the Bialik-Stone household, the actress doesn't plan on having any more children because her work schedule wouldn't allow her the same time to spend with a new baby that she had with her sons when they were very little. "Sure, I could have a nanny with me on the set and be breastfeeding in between scenes," she says, "but that's not at all the style of parenting that my husband and I would like."

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