Friday, May 11, 2012

The Controversy of TIME

There has been quite the stir over the last two days over this week's cover of TIME magazine (pictured below). It has caused some pretty heated debates on forums and facebook pages. I was basically avoiding the topic, other than a small post on the My Breast Thoughts facebook page (which you can view here) because of the fact that I did not agree with the headline "Are you mom enough" nor did I agree with the description that leads to believe women who do practice AP parenting or extended breastfeeding are extreme.

Mommy groups I am a part of all agreed, this cover was not "wrong" because of the image, but because of the slogan of being mom enough being linked to length of breastfeeding or parenting choices. The slogan we are ALL mom enough was born on The Plus Size Mommy Memoirs forum on facebook (you can check out the main PSMM facebook page here). In fact the general tone was great for this mom for extended breastfeeding if that is what her and her child want and need, but let's not fuel the mommy wars.
Then today, a local radio station DJ posted it, and while I want to believe their concern was "that images such as this magazine cover are counter productive to all the work that's been done to promote the positive benefits of breast feeding" their previous comment (which they have since deleted) of  "this is another example of the abnormal being pushed as normal" leads me to believe that they were simply trying to cover themselves as to not get breastfeeding advocates up in arms. The general tone of the comments were things such as "This is child porn" "Once a child can ask for it they are too old" and the likes.

For this reason, because of my huge disappointment in my home town/states views of breastfeeding beyond a year, I decided to address this topic. 

First, I find it sad that breastfeeding advocates are defending that breastfeeding is not required to be "mom enough" while others are going around saying that breastfeeding at an older age is "perverted" "wrong" "damaging" and so forth. Why do breastfeeding advocates have to tip toe around to not hurt others feelings, while others can openly put down the parenting choices of those advocates. People need to understand, those who advocate (in general) are not saying everyone needs to breastfeed until age 2, or even at all. They are mostly looking for the right to feed their child in a natural way, and get the same respect as those who are feeding their child with a bottle. After that, they are looking for there to be proper education and support for women deciding to breastfeed. They are looking to not be asked to leave stores or restaurants. They simply want to be able to feed their child just like any other mom, without being judged. They have deemed a war on the term "breast is best" and are out there assuring moms that they are mom enough, even if they never breastfed. Yet, society is out there telling them how what they are doing is wrong, even though it is what God, or nature, intended.

Secondly, our country needs to learn to educate themselves before they put down another person's choice. Here is a great site with an article regarding the myths of breastfeeding past 12 months.  Not only does the World Health Organization recommend children be breastfed to age 2 and BEYOND, but biologically humans are made to breastfeed that long. If we left it up to nature, and did not push solids so early, the natural weaning age of human children would be between ages 3-7. In fact, in many countries, that is completely normal, even today. But, in the USA, we have somehow adopted the belief that breastfeeding is sexual and that a child knows this. Both of which are incorrect. Breastfeeding is not sexual, to the mom or child. A child doesn't turn a certain age, and suddenly realize breasts are also sexual. That is something that is taught to them as they get older. Also, the argument of a child being too old if they can ask for it is ridiculous. We push children to learn to ask for a "baba" or milk, but we don't want them to realize where to get their food and how to ask for it if they are nursing? That doesn't seem to make sense, but then again, neither does asking a breastfeeding mom to go to a bathroom while letting a bottle feeding mom sit at the table.

Finally, regarding the caption. I do not believe moms who practice "attachment parenting" are extreme. They are parenting in a way that comes natural to them. In all honesty though, I rarely have met a parent who fits perfectly into one label. In the beginning, I was told I was an AP parent, but the AP community told me I was a mainstream. I came to the conclusion that I parent. That is it. No labels on my style. Honestly, I do some things like an AP parent, and other things like a mainstream parent, and some things don't fit into either category. I parent my child the best way I know how, and I think I am doing a pretty good job as my son is a happy, healthy, bright two year old (on May 20th). Why do we feel the need to critique others parenting choices. Unless they are causing harm to their child, leave them be. We are all trying to do our best, whether that mean co-sleeping or crib, cloth or disposable diapers, purees or baby-led solids.....we are all doing our best. Each child and each parent is different, and we are all trying to do our best to raise a productive, independent, bright member of society.

As for "Are you mom enough" I feel the breastfeeding community has been very outspoken in their distaste for this headline. It is clear TIME magazine was trying to get attention, stir up controversy, and get in the media. Were they trying to fuel the mommy wars? Maybe. Or maybe they were playing off every mother's fear that they are not "mom enough" to sell magazines. Either way, I want every mom to know that your being "mom enough" is not based on length of breastfeeding or parenting style. Any mother who is working towards doing what is best for her child and keeping them healthy and happy is mom enough in my opinion.

***In the interest of full disclosure, while I was writing this post, the wife (the DJs are a husband & wife team) did come on and leave a comment that the abnormal being pushed as normal statement came from her husband and was meant as a joke, and that she had it deleted so that it wouldn't confuse people.

1 comment:

C Tam said...

Thanks again, Becca. Clear summary, and peacemaking in tone. :)