A Roadmap for Adolescence

By Deborah Vietor

Many of us know Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler, neurobiologist from the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”. With 4 Emmy nominations, a Critic’s Choice Award and leading actress nomination from the Screen Actors Guild, Bialik has been a star on of one of the longest running shows on air for seven years. Some may also recall her starring role as Blossom in the hit ’90s show of the same name, in addition to many other roles over the years.

My life has evolved so much … becoming a mom was the biggest and the best shift.”

Born in San Diego, Bialik a B.S from UCLA in Neuroscience and minors in Hebrew & Jewish Studies before becoming a PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA, with a focus on endocrinology. Growing up, she chanted and blew the shofar during the high holidays, wrote music for UCLA’s Acapella Group, was involved with Hillel and started a Women’s Rosh Chodesh Group. Over the years, she has become more involved in Judaism and Jewish education with her 2 children, Miles and Frederick, aged 11 and 14.

In addition to being a mensch and having something many do not possess, “Sechel” (the Yiddish word for common sense), she has recently written two unique books, Girling Up – How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular, and Boying Up – How to Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant, for adolescents, parents, and educators. These books are a roadmap for adolescence, with the goal to demystify the often confusing teen years.

Scientifically based, supported by graphs, charts and concrete information, there are many anecdotes and humorous examples of teenage life in the pages of Bialik’s new books. Boys and girls are encouraged through each title to develop a deeper understanding of one another.

Judaism, Jewish culture and tradition have always been an integral part of her life and she shares this with her boys. Tikkun Olam is most important to Bialik and her family. Spirituality is covered in each book, encouraging teens to search for and find an aspect of living outside of oneself, whether this be through ritual, prayer, church, synagogue, or community.

“For our Bar and Bat Mitzvah project, my brother and I designed our own prayer book,” Bialik recalled. “I wrote poetry and he provided the illustrations. I was a very determined 13 year old. I think I would have told myself not to give up on my dreams [if I could go back in time]. I didn’t even know what they were at the time! But I think I would have wanted my future self to be brave and stand up for those in need. I always wanted that even when I was 13. My life has evolved so much … becoming a mom was the biggest and the best shift.”

When asked about the key points from Boying Up and Girling Up that she would highlight for teens, parents and educators, Bialik noted the importance of communication.

“Communication is so important. [I would tell teens to] find adults you trust to talk to. Think about your future. Be kind to others. Learn to relax and meditate,” she said.

A self-described “tomboy” and “late bloomer” as a young girl, Bialik focuses on being true to yourself and the transition from a girl to becoming woman in Girling Up.

She stresses that when her two boys were younger, there was not a focus on television and electronics, but rather exploration and utilizing their imagination. She emphasizes sports, yet avoiding the obsession with winning. Media depictions of how males should look and behave in society are not always a positive example, she said. It is one reason she decided to write these books now.

With “The Big Bang Theory” off the air this year, Bialik has been working on her next move.

“I have no concrete plans, which is both terrifying and liberating,” she said “I will help my boys finish out their year, continue writing, making YouTube videos, and see what’s next.”

She also wrote a screenplay, which she hopes to direct later this year.

Bialik’s entertaining and educational women’s lifestyle site, GrokNation, covers subjects like decluttering, cooking with your kids, parenting, how to be newly single, women’s issues, culture, faith, “The Big Bang Theory”, and other Hollywood topics, community activism and even a family’s recent diagnosis with Down Syndrome.

As a neuroscientist, author, actor, speaker, community activist, feminist and her admittedly most important role as a mother, she shares openly and honestly about her life. Issues are discussed in the most relatable of ways, as Bialik realizes we are all figuring life out together.

The site aims to activate readers, engaging them with online conversations, leading to action, mobilizing people, leading to change the world as a community.

Bialik has enlightened, educated, entertained and supported our youth through her well-researched and thoughtful books. With her latest works, we now have a platform for Girls to be “Strong, Smart and Spectacular,” and for boys to be “Brave, Bold and Brilliant.”

Follow Mayim Bialik on GrokNation.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @missmayim.

Boying Up and Girling Up can be found wherever books are sold.

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