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The REAL Problem with the TIME magazine cover. Why are we so afraid of being nurturers?

I’ve been scratching my head for 48 hours, trying to figure out why the nation is in uproar over Time magazine’s recent cover of a 26-year-old mother breastfeeding her three-year-old. The tweets, Facebook postings and emails have been relentless.

What’s the big deal? Is my first question. And why does what one California mom do with her child bother so many millions of Americans? When did breastfeeding become everybody’s business??

When I was breastfeeding, there was a mother in my support group that was still breastfeeding her 4-year old daughter–mostly at night and during bonding time. The little girl would come to the group and tell us that she was giving up “mama’s milk” soon because she was going to kindergarten.  We didn’t think anything of it.  That was between that mother and her child.

And the fact that millions of Americans have insinuated themselves into a mother and child decision is what really bothers me. And really, the response highlights all that is wrong with our society and why our children are in crisis.

1. So many people are upset that this woman is still providing a nurturing act to a three-year-old (clearly the kid eats other food and is not breastfeeding for sustenance), as if there is cut-off age for bonding and closeness and then we should immediately make our children independent and prepare them for the “real world.”  Why are we so quick to turn children into mini-adults?? Is three years of close bonding experiences really so terrible???  Maybe more nurturing as a child would produce fewer bullies and fewer kids who kill their parents. Perhaps more bonding from mom wouldn’t have kids developing unhealthy relationships with food during childhood.

Women are upset because the feminist movement told us that it is anti-progressive woman be tethered to a child for extended periods–and that our “liberation” was in working outside the home, giving our kids infant formula and dropping them off at day care. And this woman on the cover of Time magazine, flies right in the face of that. She has made a personal sacrifice to give what she thinks is best for her child. What’s worse, the so-called empowerment hasn’t felt very empowering at all. Mommy guilt is running at all-time highs, fyi.

And then we make this woman on the cover “wrong” because of our own issues.

There’s a whole lotta commenting about this kid needing therapy, when we all could use some couch time and self-examination about why one of the basic acts of motherhood–feeding and nurturing a child has become so contested, so politicized, and so open to debate from every Tom, Dick and Harry.

2. People in other countries practice extended breastfeeding all the time.

3. I have to say it: Most people are upset about this picture, because they still only see the breast as a sexual tool. And anybody on the breast beyond their idea of a “baby” is doing something improper.  I wonder if that child was a girl, if so many men would object. Then they want to say the MOTHER has the problem?? Really, it’s time for a lot of folks to check themselves and their ideas about sexuality and the breast.

4. I think we all need to be media savvy enough to see that Time magazine is simply going for the shock factor and taking us along for the ride. The article is actually about Dr. William Sears and attachment parenting. Extended breastfeeding is only one aspect of attachment parenting, but Time chose that picture because they know breastfeeding is such an emotional topic in this country. They are exploiting an already controversial issue that is so critical to the health and wellness of infants and mothers and that is not cool.

At the end of the day, we all want to do our best for our children. But when you look at childhood obesity, crime, bullying, tween and teen suicides, gun-toting five-years old and self-absorbed college kids, we really have to ask ourselves if any of us have got it right. Maybe Dr. Sears and attachment parenting isn’t the answer either, but clearly it’s time to try something new.  And that works for you and your child, I say, you go girl!


6 Responses to “The REAL Problem with the TIME magazine cover. Why are we so afraid of being nurturers?”
  1. Ronnie_BMWK says:

    Thanks for writing this article….it expresses exactly how I feel about the Time magazine article: 1. I know they picked that picture because it would generate buzz, 2. i think it is personal preference….i know that in other countries extended breastfeeding is practiced all of the time, 3. I felt a little uncomfortable about the picture…but then after giving it some thought.. I think I am uncomfortable because I am just not accustomed to this practice.

    I breastfed one of my daughters until she was 14 months old and I was asked by many people when I was going to stop as if they had a personal stake in the matter.

  2. Arnebya says:

    It wasn’t the picture that bothered me; it was the headline. Mother enough to…what? Breastfeed? Breastfeed on an extended basis? Attachment parent? What is it asking exactly? We’re all mother enough — mother enough in whatever we choose to do with/for our children and families. It’s inciting a “better than” mentality and no mother needs that. I couldn’t possibly care any less what this mother does or how long she does it. I like how both of them looking at the camera is defiant, a kind of what of it question. Initially, I disliked that, feeling like it made it too posed, but now I see that’s kind of the point. What I dislike about the photo is his standing on the chair because it takes away from the normalcy of nursing, extended or otherwise. I’ve read that there were other photos from the shoot, one where he was curled in her lap and it looked more natural, normal. But of course that wouldn’t have had the shock value, so why use that? It also kind of irks me that extended nursing is only a small part of attachment parenting (what the article is mainly about) but this of course made the cover solely because of its sensationalism.

    • admin says:

      I agree 100%. They chose the breastfeeding part of attachment parenting because they know it is a hot-button issue and that’s irresponsible. But what do you expect from the media?? and you are right, the headline incites these so-called mommy wars which, in my opinion, are just another marketing tool. Moms have to wise up and not fall for it! –Kimberly Seals Allers

  3. kim says:

    I basically practiced Attachment parenting. I stopped breastfeeding my son just 2 mth B/4 he turned 3, (only because I was getting ready to give birth to my 2nd child). Son is 10 not, NO infections, or diseases. Did people ask me when I was going to stop, sure mostly my husbands family. My son did look older than he was esp since he was a “healthy” boy. I did it in public,church any where i felt it was time; of course i covered up or went to the restroom. I don’t care what the media says and i do love the cover of Time; although i must admit it looks a little off putting, cause he’s standing on a chair) Never seen that done.) I do think people still think anything to do with the breasts of women is sexual.BUT the media sure shows lots of breasts on T.V. with no problems

  4. lacta says:

    I for one breastfed my son until the milk ran out when he was about 3 1/2. Right before he turned 2, I told my doctor I was about to wean him and he said if I didn’t have to, I shouldn’t because the benefits continue for as long as he does so. He also told me about the reduction in certain cancer risks in mother and child when nursing beyond 2. By the time he was 2, he nursed befor nap time and before bedtime, he wasn’t interested any other time, he was busy being social, learning and playing.

  5. Monica says:

    I agree 100%. Very well said!!

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