Read the article before you throw the first punch

11 May

Would you have picked up this week’s issue of Time if the photo was of Dr. Sears (attachment parenting’s guru)? Probably not.

Let the bitch fight begin.

You’ve undoubtedly seen this week’s cover of Time Magazine.  A provocative photo of a young 20-something mother nursing her toddler son with the caption, “Are you Mom Enough?” has caused our inner-bitches to throw down UFC style and come out swinging.

Many of the mothers who didn’t breastfeed immediately went on the defensive.  The same women who don’t want to be judged because they didn’t breastfeed are now judging this woman on the cover that chooses to breastfeed her toddler.  And when Scary Mommy posted a tongue-in-cheek spoof on her Facebook page with the caption “Working Mothers are Failures” and “Does Formula Harm Babies? Mothers, unable or unwilling to breastfeed, resort to formula for nourishment.  Let’s rip them apart”, all Hell broke loose.  The comments I’ve read online have been rude and have bordered on just plain hateful.  And what’s ironic is that most of those who are commenting online don’t have any idea that the article is about attachment parenting, not about demonizing those who didn’t breastfeed.

Yes, the photo and the caption are provocative, but have we forgotten that Time is in the business of selling magazines?  I would venture to guess that there has been more buzz about Time in the last 24 hours than there has been in the last 10 years. I posted the cover on my Facebook wall the minute I saw it.  Why? Because I endured major criticism from strangers, friends and even my mother about choosing to breastfeed my two oldest children beyond the “acceptable” one-year mark.  My nursed my son until he was 4 and my daughter until she was 3 (the worldwide age for weaning is 4). The majority of Americans don’t understand that nursing a toddler is very different from nursing an infant.  An infant nurses primarily for nutrition.  A toddler nurses for bonding time.  My toddlers nursed when I got home from work, before they went to bed and occasionally when they were hurt or sad.  They are now 16 and 9, and neither of them remember nursing as toddlers and have grown into confident, well-adjusted, healthy kids.  And, contrary to what my mother said when he was 3, my teenage son does not have an unhealthy fascination with boobs.   Every time I see a woman breastfeeding a toddler, I approach her and tell her what a great job she’s doing. Hopefully my encouragement makes her forget the stares and nasty comments from perfect strangers.

But, back to the real issue.  The article is about attachment parenting, not about breastfeeding vs formula feeding.    Here’s my message to both camps:  instead of being defensive about how we choose to feed our infants, let’s be thankful that we have a choice.  In most of the world, breastfeeding is a matter of life and death.  As Americans, we are fortunate to have access to clean water, which by the way, benefits both nursing and non-nursing babies alike.  We are also fortunate to have programs like WIC to help mothers feed their babies because formula isn’t exactly affordable. 

Parenting is a process.  It’s fluid.  It changes from day to day, year to year and from child to child.  Take a moment and find out what attachment parenting is all about and you’ll understand the question, “Are You Mom Enough?” It takes an incredbile commitment level to live out attachment parenting to its fullest—especiallly in our American culture. I’ve been luckily enough to experience the full-spectrum in a few parenting “adventures”: birth with medication and natural childbirth, breastfeeding my children as toddlers and having to stop nursing my youngest at 3 months and start formula feeding, being a biomom and a stepmom, being a SAHM to a working mom to a mom with a home office.  None of it is easy.   I’ve incorporated bits and pieces of attachment parenting, learned from books, the internet and most importantly other mothers.  No one way is right for any mom, any child or any family. Here’s the bottom line: it’s not about whether you breastfeed, use cloth diapers, feed your baby only organic food, and co-sleep. What’s important is that you raise confident children that grow into well-adjusted, non-judgmental adults the best way you can. Let’s all stop being defensive and angry.  Let’s bond and get the village together so we can raise these kids.  And finally, let’s all read the article before we start throwing punches.

What was your first reaction when you saw the Time cover?  Has anyone ever been critical of your parenting style (as a biomom or a stepmom)?  Do you really care if a mother breastfeeds or formula-feeds her baby?  Have you heard of attachment parenting before today?

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2 Responses to “Read the article before you throw the first punch”

  1. Sleeping Mom @ Sleeping Should Be Easy May 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    I wrote a post about this over at my blog, but in summation, I feel like moms need to support other moms and let them be. We need to do what works for ourselves rather than bash how others parent, however different they may be from what we’re used to. And yes it felt transparent with the cover that the magazine is in the business to sell magazines, not necessarily to portray the more typical scene of extended breastfeeding.

  2. Louise Malbon-Reddix May 16, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    The point is not about the bottle or the breast, to me after the child gets to be a certain age, nutrition and emotional bonding becomes to seperate issues. Your comparing apples and oranges. Nutrition is the key subject at hand here after that we can get the teddy bear, the warm milk the cookies or whatever else to help in bonding. There are other options to sooth the baby besides the breast.

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