William Sears
Born
William Penton Sears

(1939-12-09) December 9, 1939 (age 82)
NationalityAmerican
Other namesDr. Bill
Alma materSaint Louis University
OccupationPediatrician and author
Known forPromoting attachment parenting
Notable work
The Baby Book
Spouse(s)Martha
Children8, including Robert Sears

William Penton Sears (born December 9, 1939), also referred to as Dr. Bill, is an American pediatrician and the author or co-author of parenting books. Sears is a celebrity doctor, and has been a guest on various television talk shows. Sears is a proponent of the attachment parenting philosophy, and is most well known for authoring The Baby Book, which popularized that style of parenting.[1]

Early life

William Sears was born in Alton, Illinois, the son of Lucille and Willard Sears, an engineer.[2] William's father left when he was one month old, after which Lucille moved back in with her parents. His mother raised him as a Catholic, which influenced his later career path and parental theories. After graduating high school, he studied to become a priest at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, but dropped out due to his desire to raise a family.[1]

After graduating from Saint Louis University in 1962, he enrolled in medical school and began teaching biology at a Catholic school. While studying medicine, he met his wife Martha, who at the time was a nurse at the university. The couple had a total of eight children, one of whom has Down syndrome. Sears cited his experience as a father as inspiration for many of his theories regarding parenting and infant development.[1]

Career

Sears began writing while working as a small town pediatrician.[3] In 1982, William and Martha published their first book on parenting, although this was later overshadowed by William's The Baby Book in 1993. The book makes many claims about the importance of attachment parenting, and advocates for breastfeeding and babywearing into toddlerhood. According to Sears, he came to the conclusion that babywearing was essential to promoting a healthy bond between mothers and infants after interviewing two women from Zambia at an international parenting conference.[4] Sears later said that he developed many of his ideas after reading Jean Liedloff's 1975 book The Continuum Concept, which claimed that children raised among the indigenous peoples of South America were more well behaved than their Western counterparts due to be carried constantly during infancy.[1][5]

After the success of the Baby Book, Sears was compared to pediatrician Benjamin Spock. Sears' advocacy of co-sleeping[3] put him at odds with Richard Ferber who advised parents to their children self soothe by crying themselves to sleep. Both authors ended up taking more moderate stances in a 2006 Day to Day episode revisiting the dispute, where they conceded that different approaches worked for different parents.[6]

Sears completed medical residencies at Children's Hospital Boston and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. In 2004, he was an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine.[7]

He is a medical and parenting consultant for BabyTalk and Parenting magazines and the pediatrician on the website Parenting.com.[8] Sears has been a guest on various television shows including: 20/20, Donahue, Good Morning America, Oprah Winfrey, CBS This Morning, CNN, Today Show and Dateline.[citation needed]

Sears and his family members are distributors and spokespersons for Juice Plus dietary supplements, which Sears promotes on his website.[9] National Safety Associates (NSA), the company that markets Juice Plus, used testimonials from Bill Sears in advertisements promoting Juice Plus Gummies. In April 2005, the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division deemed that the ads misleadingly implied "that the Gummies are low in sugar and are a nutritional alternative to fruits and vegetables". As a result, NSA "promised to modify its ads" and stop calling Gummies "the next best thing to fruits and vegetables."[10]

Sears operates a "health coach" certification website, The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.[11]

In 2012, Time ran a cover story about the life and legacy of Sears titled "The Man Who Remade Motherhood", which examined Sears' life and career.[1]

Personal life

In 1997, Sears was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer, which went into remission after treatment. Sears and his wife Martha, a registered nurse, have eight children. Three of their children have also become doctors: Jim (the oldest), who is a co-host of The Doctors, Bob (second oldest), and Peter.[1]

As of 2009, Sears lives in San Clemente, California, and operates a private medical practice (Sears Family Pediatrics) in Capistrano Beach, California with his sons.[12]

Reception

As of 2012, Sears had published over 40 works,[13] which were translated into 18 languages.[14] Sears' works promote the practice of attachment parenting, which emphasizes the importance of emotional availability and accessibility.[15][16]

Sears has been criticized for recommending parenting techniques which are "burdensome" or demanding of parents, particularly mothers whom he recommends stay at home with their infants.[5][17][18][4] Attachment parenting has also been described as a fad by some.[19] Some of Sears' scientific claims have been criticized, including the claim that being left to cry for long periods can cause brain damage during infancy.[14]

Selected works

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Man Who Remade Motherhood". Time. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  2. ^ Contemporary Authors. Cengage Gale. November 2011. ISBN 978-0-7876-6715-3.
  3. ^ a b "William Sears proposes a kinder, gentler parental model; Caring: The physician believes in forming a strong parent-child attachment". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Why I Hate Dr. Sears". Brain, Child. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Abel, Heather (January 31, 2018). "The Baby, the Book, and the Bathwater". The Paris Review. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  6. ^ "Dr. Ferber Revisits His 'Crying Baby' Theory". NPR.org. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  7. ^ FOXNews.com – Asthma Out of Control in America's Kids – Health News
  8. ^ AskDrSears.com – Dr. Bill
  9. ^ Sears, Dr Bill (August 8, 2013). "Juice Plus+". Ask Dr Sears. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  10. ^ "How product testimonials bend the rules". Archived from the original on July 21, 2006. Retrieved October 15, 2006.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), Consumer Reports, January 2006
  11. ^ "About Us | Dr. Sears Wellness Institute". Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  12. ^ Meet the Doctors – Dr. James Sears
  13. ^ Pickert, Kate (May 10, 2012). "Meet Dr. Bill Sears, the Man Who Remade Motherhood". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Kluger, Jeffrey (May 10, 2012). "The Science Behind Dr. Sears: Does It Stand Up?". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  15. ^ Farhi, Paul (May 10, 2012). "Time cover milks shocking image (photo)". Washington Post. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  16. ^ "The Seven B's of Attachment Parenting, Um, with Some Commentary". HuffPost. April 4, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  17. ^ Singal, Jesse. "Is Attachment Parenting a Plot to Force Women Back Into the Home?". The Cut. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  18. ^ Strauss, Elissa (July 8, 2016). "Attachment Theory Is Far More Forgiving Than Dr. Sears Makes It Seem". Slate Magazine. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  19. ^ Pollitt, Katha (May 16, 2012). "Attachment Parenting: More Guilt for Mother". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved December 9, 2021.