Yesterday, Time Magazine published a cover featuring a mother breastfeeding her three-year-old son as he stands on a stool suckling from her breast. The issue marks the 20-year anniversary of attachment parenting, as coined by Dr. Sears.
Breastfeeding is like its own character—mommy wars are launched between breastfeeding and formula-feeding teams, discussion arises as to whether breastfeeding in public without a cover is appropriate or not, and of course, we debate just how long we should breastfeed.
There seems to be no clear cut winner. The mom who attempts breastfeeding but turns to formula after a few days is deemed as a failure. Yet the mom who breastfeeds for three years is seen as extreme. Sometimes breastfeeding feels like a competition: the mom who breastfed for one year seems like the “winner” over the one who continued for nine months. Would breastfeeding to a happy average of one and a half years old make everyone comfortable then?
The answer: do what works for you. We easily raise our eyebrows when we see older kids breastfeeding yet take little time to assume that doing so works best for that family. Or perhaps we tsk tsk at the mom who stopped short of her six-month goal of breastfeeding without realizing that doing so made her a much happier mom to her baby.
Unless parents are downright abusing, neglecting or placing their kids in difficult situations, I ask myself, “What is it to me?” I don’t give my toddler candy, but what is it to me if another parent gives her son some Whoppers? Similarly, I would hate for another parent to make assumptions about me because I use disposable diapers while she doesn’t.
I’m not immune from judging; many a times have I done a double-take when I see something I’m not used to. But as mothers, we would all benefit from allowing other moms to parent the way they see fit. Whether we never breastfed our kids or continue to do so, we’re loving, well-intentioned mothers, however different our parenting methods may be. After all, most of us are doing the best we can, in the ways that work best for us.
What are your thoughts on Time Magazine’s cover photo? How do you handle different parenting styles from yours?
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