This week’s Time magazine cover story about Bill Sears has everyone up in arms. Even though the article is about Sears himself, the cover image shows a woman breastfeeding her large child, and the headline “Are you Mom Enough?’ seems to be screaming “Lady, you are a freak!” Even though the boy on the cover is apparently 3 years old, he looks to be about 5 or 6. Folks are saying this is pedophilia, and perverted. While everyone knows “breast is best” my biggest worry with a cover image like this is that it will polarize more moms into thinking that breastfeeding is a freakish thing, that their kids will never stop, and that they should be ashamed to even start.
As a mom who raised two children using Dr. Sears’ attachment parenting techniques, I was pretty interested in the story, and not surprised by the angry backlash. Attachment parenting is based on three major tenets: breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and carrying your baby in a sling to promote closeness with the child. It worked great for our family (I can proudly attest to 2 fantastic teenage daughters who breastfed until 2.5 years and 18 months; neither of them remember it, either). What people don’t understand about breastfeeding a toddler is that it’s usually just an occasional nip, for comfort, say, or helping them get to sleep. I’ll admit to having a hard time weaning my first; she wasn’t ready at 2, but I was! We like to tell the story of having to bribe her into it by having a “Bye Bye Nummies” party with a little cake and candles as a celebration of her growing up and not needing it anymore,and thankfully she was old enough to understand it, and it worked! Some of my friends at the time probably thought we were weird, but we didn’t care. We knew were giving our girls a healthy, happy start.
It’s a complicated issue for sure, and mothers will be demonized for allowing their kids to go too long. I felt that once mine were walking and talking, we could negotiate in other ways to help them cope with their needs. Time wants to sell magazines, and making attachment parenting seem controversial (it isn’t) is a great way to sell. If they had used any of the inside pictures, (or a picture of Sears himself–imagine that?!) the impact would not be so polarizing. Curious what other moms out there think, did you breastfeed, for how long, and what do you think of this cover? And non- moms, how does it make you feel?
PS. Happy Mothers Day