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Extreme Breastfeeding in TIME Magazine
May 12, 2012 3:46 PM   Subscribe

The most recent cover of Time magazine is causing a lot of controversy. The issue explores attachment parenting and its rise in popularity. Some see attachment parents as selfish, while others swear by it. Either way, attachment parenting and extreme breastfeeding are now part of the national conversation
posted by reenum (184 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Malcom X John Lennon come on in and dig your mother.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 3:48 PM on May 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


It is nice that there is any kind of national conversation. I am frankly getting tired of discussions about floride.
posted by Postroad at 3:52 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


This whole debate is really based on a ridiculous misconception of the narrowness of attachment parenting that the Time article makes. My wife who writes the Montessori/AP blog (vibrantwanderings) and I are "attachment parents" - in fact her good friend dianna (?sp) was interviewed for the article.

If you can get past the defensive tone I think PhD neuroscientist Blossom does a good job explaining what AP is and is not.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 3:54 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


If there's one thing I've learned from hanging out with my pregnant friends, it's that the only thing women like more than being told how to give birth is being told how to breast feed.
posted by Nelson at 3:55 PM on May 12, 2012 [60 favorites]


Extreme breastfeeding just gives me the image of someone breastfeeding while doing snowboarding or base jumping.
posted by happyroach at 3:57 PM on May 12, 2012 [85 favorites]


I really, profoundly don't care how long women breastfeed or cosleep or whatever.

I do know of some horror stories of women going years with no more than an hour of sleep at a time, which sucks for them, but I just can't judge. Everybody tries their best, and time keeps moving forward no matter what you do. You're not being cruel or abusing your kid? Congrats, keep on keepin' on.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:58 PM on May 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


Gosh.

That cover photo... hm. It really is something.

I guess the kid's three years old? The picture makes him look more like five or six, so that helps some. It definitely makes me uncomfortable, but honestly, as long as she's not hitting him, neglecting him, that sort of stuff, I'm pretty meh about it. Like is he really going to suffer some kind of permanent injury from it? Probably not.
posted by kavasa at 3:58 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Time does it again. Europe and Asia get Francois Holland. We get familycrisisoutragetits!!
posted by R. Schlock at 4:01 PM on May 12, 2012 [37 favorites]


For me, extreme breastfeeding would entail sneaking up on a lioness in the serengeti who is nursing her litter, and latching on like one of the brood.
posted by found missing at 4:01 PM on May 12, 2012 [106 favorites]


I can see why that cover offends so many people. Putty-colored flats with those jeans? No, girl, just no.
posted by xingcat at 4:01 PM on May 12, 2012 [48 favorites]


Like is he really going to suffer some kind of permanent injury from it?

Not until he gets to school and becomes the "got milk?" boy for the rest of his life.
posted by found missing at 4:02 PM on May 12, 2012 [24 favorites]


In the US, you're expected to go back to work after 3 weeks, so that must be what God Intended! Any other practice is WEIRD AND EXTREME!!!111
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:02 PM on May 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


The kid is almost four years old. What happens when he goes to school? Or does AP require homeschooling?
posted by Carol Anne at 4:03 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice airbrushing!
posted by ReeMonster at 4:03 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish I could be outraged about this one way or the other, but I'm the guy attachment parenting a 10-year-old dog.
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2012 [43 favorites]


It's a "mommy war" in the US because a lot the "attachment parenting" principles are only possible for parents that are privileged. I mean, I simply mention breastfeeding being good in the US and people start acting like they are being attacked. In Scandinavia where I used to live it really is a choice that everyone has, so to me it seemed like it was less of a big deal there.
posted by melissam at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2012 [24 favorites]


Well, as I have said before, I am pretty sure the basic message on parenting from the American media (and society) is "what ever you are doing, it is wrong!"
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:06 PM on May 12, 2012 [24 favorites]


I got it in the mail today, and I will cancel Time on Monday. Without comment on the article, that cover is an obvious publicity stunt and beyond what I will accept from Time. As bad and worsening as it is anyway.
posted by caclwmr4 at 4:06 PM on May 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


From the CNN article: Although she respects the education and experience medical doctors have that she doesn't, Rogers believes there are limits to what doctors can recommend to their patients with confidence.

What the frack does that mean?
posted by eugenen at 4:10 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I prefer Olympic breastfeeding.
posted by Nomyte at 4:13 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Eh, hunter–gatherers—the lifestyle which makes up roughly 99% of human existence through history—would regularly breastfeed their children to about four years old. I'm not certain the woman and her child are hunter–gatherers, but I'm pretty sure they're human. It's good to get back to your roots, reconnect with our natural state. I'm not sure if we had magazines back then, however.
posted by Jehan at 4:13 PM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think Bill Maher's comment on this cover last night on Real Time was "If TIME Magazine is really this desperate for attention, it must be renamed "I'll Suck Your Dick For A Dollar". And by the way, here's a tip for when your child is too old to breastfeed: if after he finishes, he lights up a cigarette."
posted by hippybear at 4:14 PM on May 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


Ugh, fuck Bill Maher, seriously.

The world has bigger problems; parents have bigger problems; I don't give a rip what other moms do when it comes to breastfeeding, provided they're not being coerced one way or the other.

Time, like Newsweek and the old news media in general, is a pathetic shell of its former self.
posted by emjaybee at 4:18 PM on May 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ugh, fuck Bill Maher, seriously.

Yeah, implying that breastfeeding is sexual is really gross.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:19 PM on May 12, 2012 [20 favorites]


Time should have just put

OH GOD WE ARE DESPERATE FOR YOU TO BUY THIS PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
SERIOUSLY, IF YOU DON'T BUY THIS WE HAVE TO DO A COVER WHERE A GLOVED HAND IS GIVING JUSTIN BIEBER A TESTICULAR EXAM
and the hand will have "hitler!" tattooed on it
this is how desperate we are you guys


on the cover.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:20 PM on May 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


That is not Lysa Arryn.
posted by thewalrus at 4:20 PM on May 12, 2012 [17 favorites]


There is no "our natural state," Jehan. Everything we've ever done has been either in response to our ever-changing environment for the sake of comfort or survival, or some shit we totally made up because it held meaning for us at the time.
posted by hermitosis at 4:21 PM on May 12, 2012 [42 favorites]


This seems to me to be based on, or a reflection of Elisabeth Badinter's current reactionary ranting against the La Leche League, and how breastfeeding is an anti-feminist act. Sorry her Harper's article is behind a paywall, but it's a magnificent piece of anti-science, anti-nature wingnuttery. This is someone with a larger-than-life axe to grind, and it fits perfectly with the Time cover.

Because she's a French billionaire, I can only assume she had stock in Nestlé and lost bigtime when the boycott started in 1977, and has been nursing (hah!) a grudge all this time.
posted by sneebler at 4:22 PM on May 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


@hippybear
"And by the way, here's a tip for when your child is too old to breastfeed: if after he finishes, he lights up a cigarette."

I would not bet on this.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 4:24 PM on May 12, 2012


I prefer Olympic breastfeeding.

Well, I admit that, when I saw "extreme breastfeeding," I imagined it would involve snowboards or snorkeling with sharks or something....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:25 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those weren't my words, they were Bill Maher's.

And please talk with me, not at me.
posted by hippybear at 4:26 PM on May 12, 2012


That is not Lysa Arryn.
posted by Flashman at 4:27 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


The mom depicted on the TIME cover was interviewed on CNN last night. I was impressed by her quiet self-confidence and her ability to be calm, rational, and gracious in view of all the negative publicity and fun being poked at her and her family. As far as what her son might or might not think about this at some future point, the mom is the second generation of attachment parenting, having been parented that way herself and nursing until she was six years old, and she doesn't think it will be a problem.

I'm not educated enough about the subject to be able to say I'm pro or con attachment parenting and/or extreme breastfeeding, but it does seem odd to live in a world that is fine and dandy with a TV show called "Toddlers and Tiaras" all about little girls dressed up like provocative adults, but finds a magazine with a breastfeeding child on it shocking and objectionable.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 4:27 PM on May 12, 2012 [24 favorites]


Many people aren't "fine" with Toddlers & Tiaras. A lot of people find it shocking and objectionable, and that's part of why it's so successful.

(Not that I think breastfeeding three-year-olds is in any way comparable to putting them in a pageant.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:39 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


As far as I know, Badinter does not claim that breastfeeding is anti-feminist. What she actually says is, "We might begin by affirming that whether mothers give birth by epidural or in a hydrotherapy tub, breast-feed or mix formula, co-sleep or opt for a crib, stay at home or enroll in daycare, their children will be fine."
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:39 PM on May 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


Maybe the real key to resolving all this will be an episode of Toddlers And Tiaras where one of the contestants is shown breastfeeding between runway appearances.
posted by hippybear at 4:41 PM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I love it when people criticize Time for trying to sell a magazine or two on the newsstand, for Christ's sake, and also criticize them for not having the budget for extensive newsgathering projects.
posted by purpleclover at 4:42 PM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Badinter's article is great and she has a lot of good points. It's unfair to classify her as thoughtlessly butthurt.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:46 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think what people are criticizing TIME for in this case isn't for trying to sell a magazine or two, but for using sensationalistic cover photography involving mother, child, and boobies to do it.
posted by hippybear at 4:46 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Our local news had a "LOOK AT THIS CRAZY SHIT!!! WHAT YOUR NEIGHBORS THINK ABOUT IT!!!!!!!" story about the cover last night. Of course, it was about the cover, and not the topic of the cover.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:47 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't believe for one minute that the Time cover was anything other than a publicity stunt, but the message behind it is sound. The more people hear they have other options besides dual-income daycare lifestyles the better.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:47 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh, a lot of people don't have options besides dual-income daycare lifestyles.

And that's ultimately why people like Mayim Bialik drive me nuts: they're like "oh, if we weren't rich we'd just give up our luxuries to have one parent stay home! You don't need two cars or a huge house!" without any understanding of financial realities.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:51 PM on May 12, 2012 [53 favorites]


There is no "our natural state," Jehan. Everything we've ever done has been either in response to our ever-changing environment for the sake of comfort or survival, or some shit we totally made up because it held meaning for us at the time.

Nope, humans have a natural state the same as any animal does, and that includes breastfeeding up to several years old. If you don't like that, it's tough, but as Hominids this is just what comes naturally. We might change for convenience or for culture, but it doesn't mean that our natural state is a myth, it's just harder to connect with. I dare suggest that some of the anger against this woman is simple indignity about our own animality, like a gash in the cultural fabric of women's bodies and notions of childhood.
posted by Jehan at 4:54 PM on May 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


I dare suggest that some of the anger against this woman is simple indignity about our own animality, like a gash in the cultural fabric of women's bodies and notions of childhood.

I dunno, I think that might be over-thinking it a little. I think people just adore judging other parents on the flimsiest of fucking evidence. It makes us feel better about any perceived lapses in our own parenting, and is an especially piquant battleground for enforcing social and cultural norms - after all, the process begins at birth, so to speak.

Thankfully, I personally feel like I'm seeing more backlash against this kind of drive-by judgment, albeit not so much in the dead-tree media.
posted by smoke at 4:57 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Conservatives freaking out about breastfeeding just shows you exactly how radical and unconservative they really are.
posted by mek at 4:57 PM on May 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Nope, humans have a natural state the same as any animal does, and that includes breastfeeding up to several years old.

Yeah, I'd really, really like to see some hard, scientific evidence for the second part of that sentence.

Also, trying to put a dichotomy between culture and nature for humans is a non-starter.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:59 PM on May 12, 2012 [16 favorites]


as Hominids this is just what comes naturally

This is my problem with the "natural state" argument. Everyone everywhere is doing "what comes naturally". Any form of life exists in relationship to its environment, and there is no true, natural environment to get back to. Of course we have a genotype, but the notion of a natural phenotype that exists outside of lived environments, which is what I think "natural state" implies, really is a myth.
posted by howfar at 5:03 PM on May 12, 2012 [17 favorites]


Nope, humans have a natural state the same as any animal does
I'm sympathetic to part of what you're trying to say here, but this is really not accurate. You seem to think that every animal has one, natural way of doing things? And that's not how it works. There's tons of variation between species, with species between populations, and within populations between individuals. Maybe humans that live in arctic areas breastfeed for one length of time while equatorial populations don't, or maybe not, and maybe climate has nothing to do with it. If chimpanzees had access to formula, maybe they'd forsake breastfeeding for it. Who knows?

I agree that we're animals like any other animal, but I don't agree that there exists some natural state. For any creature. Nature is perpetually in flux.
posted by kavasa at 5:03 PM on May 12, 2012 [26 favorites]


First rule of parenting: no matter how you do it, there are always plenty of people eager to tell you, in great detail and at lenght, how you're doing it wrong. Second rule of parenting: you probably are doing it wrong. Third rule: for most things, it doesn't really matter, as children are resilient and there is no one true perfect way of raising them anyway. Fourth rule: it's not rocket science, just a hard, long slog. Fifth rule: the small things won't matter all that much in the long run, the big things are often random anyway and not having them is just luck.

Zeroth rule of parenting: almost all attention in the media about parenting revolves around the issues of perfectionist, neurotic rich, upper middle class parents and is of about as much relevance to your own lives as any other such articles are. Always remember that people have been raising children for millions of years, mostly succesfully.

(Sort of related: I've just today become an uncle again for the fifth time.)
posted by MartinWisse at 5:06 PM on May 12, 2012 [46 favorites]


I know one woman who told me she breast fed her child until he was four. At the time she told me this, she was letting him sleep with her in her bed. He was eleven. I must confess I found the latter troubling much more than the former. This was, if I recall correctly, during the first term of the Clinton administration.
posted by y2karl at 5:11 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Congratulations MartinWisse! For the fifth time? Do you think they'll let you babysit? 'Cause you make it sound like maybe somebody lost the first four.
posted by howfar at 5:11 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love that her twitter handle is "iamnotthebabysitter" is she an attachment parent or an image obsessed attention whore?
posted by karmiolz at 5:14 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I could never babysit; much too lumpy.

(three of the five were very much present at my sister's birthday party today; the fourth was waiting for his brother to be born; he had been watching youtube videos about what happens when mommy gets pregnant and babies are born and figured out he's going to be a big sister.)
posted by MartinWisse at 5:14 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


We might change for convenience or for culture, but it doesn't mean that our natural state is a myth, it's just harder to connect with.

When was this time then when our natural state was established, in which there were no changes for convenience or culture?

All of human behavior exists across a wide spectrum, given our reactions to various social and environmental stimuli. There was never a time when there was a true, natural human who only did true, natural human things.
posted by hermitosis at 5:18 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


dual-income daycare lifestyles the better.

Oh please. Mommy bloggers (and the poster mom is one) earn money, and this is a guaranteed SEO boon. Publicity stunt, pure and simple.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:30 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was never a time when there was a true, natural human who only did true, natural human things.

Well, except breathing, and eating, reproducing, and raising young. Breastfeeding falls pretty much in that spectrum, given that prior to the invention of formula, there really wasn't an alternative if you wanted a baby to survive. The way humans have done it has varied, of course; how long, whether nursemaids or helpers were used, etc. Once animals were domesticated, their milk could be used, some of the time, as a supplement. But compared to a lot of things that humans do or don't do, lactation and nursing are about as basic as it gets.
posted by emjaybee at 5:31 PM on May 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hey, it's just our natural state.

In this tribe, the act of receiving semen is an ontological necessity for membership, arguably just as real as the nutritional sustenance of breastmilk.
posted by hermitosis at 5:33 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is my problem with the "natural state" argument. Everyone everywhere is doing "what comes naturally". Any form of life exists in relationship to its environment, and there is no true, natural environment to get back to. Of course we have a genotype, but the notion of a natural phenotype that exists outside of lived environments, which is what I think "natural state" implies, really is a myth.

Well, and that the presumed "natural state" always seems to just happen to reinforce whatever cultural norm that the proposer wants to claim is ingrained and incapable of change. After all, the tendency to drive around the parking lot for 20 minutes look for a spot close to the entrance instead of just parking and walking is a throwback to our natural urge to hunt.... Or, possibly, breast feed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:34 PM on May 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


extreme breastfeeding? such a crock of shit.

most kids stop breastfeeding around 2, maybe a little later. outside of the US it isn't a deal, but here? this is the land of "shitco foods" pushing shame on breastfeeding while hawking the sugar soy water they call formula. and people buy that bullshit hook and sinker.

and then they wonder why allergies have exploded in the last 20 years.

i breastfed til my kids were one and one 1/2 years old because that's when my kids stopped. in puerto rico and caribbean culture we introduce solids from a very early age. my kids were eating solids by themselves even before they had all their teeth.

but, you know, we're underdeveloped poor ignorants and what not.

it amazes me people would call breastfeeding "selfish". giving your kids formula because you dont want your boobs to sag or it's too inconvenient isn't?

give me a break.

this is another example of the war on women.
posted by liza at 5:35 PM on May 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


From goofing around with the primate info net factsheets, it looks as though most of the great apes seem to wean their young at around three or four years old.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:39 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Google search on (breastfeeding, duration) pulls many results for 30 months is considered perfectly normal. Google search for (Sparta, breastfeeding, duration) did not bring the result I am suddenly curious to know.
posted by bukvich at 5:39 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing: The cover is designed to be as provocative as possible. There was an FPP a while ago about a mom in britan who still breast fed her 5 year old, or whatever. They showed it in the video, the mom would sit on the couch and the kid would lay on it. The mother looked like a typical mom. It was weird but it wasn't at all like this. Because the mother's body language said "mother" and the kid's body language said "baby". She was curled up on the couch the way a baby would on a mother's lap. It looked a little weird

But this image is all about shock value. The mother is slender, and looks like a model. The kid seems really tall for a 3 year old, and the mother seems really short (she must be like 5'2" or something). The fact that the mother is so attractive and that the kid appears older then he is really makes it extra fucked up. And the mother's body language isn't "nurturing mother" but rather defiant, all business, with one tit exposed. Time definitely tried to amplify the sexual undertones, and they did it to move copies off the stands.

It's shock value to sell copies.

---

I was watching a segment on this on The Young Turks on youtube. They basically said the son is going to be mocked pretty hard once he hits middle school/highschool, I suppose if a picture of that like me showed up when I was that age I would have been mortified. I think some times parents of young children don't really anticipate them growing up, and sometimes do things that might embarrass them later on.
I'm sympathetic to part of what you're trying to say here, but this is really not accurate. You seem to think that every animal has one, natural way of doing things? And that's not how it works. There's tons of variation between species, with species between populations, and within populations between individuals.
Yeah the thing is, even chimps and other monkies do have a 'culture' that defines how they do things, which they pick up from watching their peers. If you took some humans and just dumped them out in the wild, they'd pretty much just fall over dead in a couple days or weeks, even if it was an environment where 'wild' humans would survive.
In this tribe, the act of receiving semen is an ontological necessity for membership, arguably just as real as the nutritional sustenance of breastmilk.
For a fairly broad definition of "arguably".
posted by delmoi at 5:41 PM on May 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


Patton Oswalt said it best:

"I was on the cover of TIME 23 years ago! Now put the lotion in the FUCKING BASKET!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:43 PM on May 12, 2012 [23 favorites]


It's not the biology that bugs me, it's the "look at me, I'm edgy!" attitude of this woman, at the expense of her child.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:49 PM on May 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


i breastfed til my kids were one and one 1/2 years old because that's when my kids stopped. in puerto rico and caribbean culture we introduce solids from a very early age. my kids were eating solids by themselves even before they had all their teeth.

but, you know, we're underdeveloped poor ignorants and what not.


Well, as someone who has almost no experience with children, it seems to me that every mothers' experience will be a bit different with every child. Some kids don't seem to take to breastfeeding, so bottle feeding becomes necessary. Some stop at one age, some stop at another. Some mothers have employment and financial situations that affect how they can deal with their kids, and so on. Most mothers, I think, do their best, but, under the constant barrage of "advice," I expect it's really hard not to lose out to anxiety and defensiveness and attacking other women as "wrong," for the momentary release from the pressure of it all.

So, yeah, an attack on women, often enlisting women. Yay, us.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:53 PM on May 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think PhD neuroscientist Blossom does a good job explaining what AP is and is not.

Feh.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:54 PM on May 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


The cover wasn't even a honest attempt at starting a national conversation, it was just GRAR-bait.

That said, that a large number of people would actually say "Attachment parenting is wrong!" makes me hate living in this country even more. Everything that could possibly be wrong, is.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:56 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel so very, very sorry for the kid on that Time cover. You think your adolescence was tough? Kid's got a hard road ahead of him.

On the bright side, at least his mommy was able to score a point for attachment parenting or whatever the hell weird thing she's into.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:57 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


And, the folks at Time are just smiling and saying... "Looks like it worked."

When y'all get tired of chomping on this, come on over, I've got a nifty little tool that helps me get the hook out without doing damage to the fish, no matter how far it's been swallowed.
posted by HuronBob at 5:57 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


All I could think of was "I Want Bitty" from Little Britain.
posted by kinetic at 6:00 PM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Until the advent of baby formulas (first made from milk from other mammals), all surviving babies definitely were breastfed at some point (unlike the semen-feeding behavior of the Baruya mentioned up-thread), but beyond that there is significant variation in almost every aspect of the act. And one of the main problems is the people we are assuming are closest to our ancestral state, forest-dwelling foragers, are debatably modern. For example, pygmies- there is a debate in anthropology about whether or not such a population could survive as true hunter-gatherers without horticulture or trade with horticulturalists/agriculturalists and if they couldn't, it would be even more questionable than it already is to use them as an ancestral proxy. And even in certain tribes, supplements to breastfeeding are used and other women might also breastfeed another mother's baby (and the men in many pygmy tribes play huge roles in taking care of infants, particularly the Aka, so much so that there was a rumor that these men were able to breastfeed!). But it does highlight an issue here, which is we really don't know if there are benefits to breastfeeding as long a pygmy women do because most studies are on populations that simply don't do that. It would be fascinating to study, but a good reminder than natural isn't always optimal.
posted by melissam at 6:05 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting how this came up shortly after the study that linked eating meat to weaning age in mammals. If that's to be believed, the 'natural state' of things is for mothers to wean their children when their brains develop to a certain point, and that point comes earlier for meat-eaters.
posted by GIFtheory at 6:32 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


that point comes earlier for meat-eaters

yes, ouch
posted by found missing at 6:39 PM on May 12, 2012


Staged photo? No a staged photo would have had her at the gym on a treadmill with the kid standing on a chair next to it breastfeeding while also playing Angry Birds on an iPhone.
posted by JackFlash at 6:48 PM on May 12, 2012


a gash in the cultural fabric of women's bodies

I see what you did there.

Honestly, I'm not so sure the kid really will get teased mercilessly. My memory is that it was 100 percent random, what caused teasing and what didn't. A photo like that might make everyone laugh, or maybe they'll pick up on the overt sexualization of the image and make MILF jokes instead, who knows?
posted by Forktine at 7:01 PM on May 12, 2012


It also builds character to literally fight your way through school.
posted by found missing at 7:03 PM on May 12, 2012


It also builds character to literally fight your way through school.

Just name the kid Ignatius.
posted by gjc at 7:08 PM on May 12, 2012


Doesn't the natural state kind of suck?
posted by borges at 7:19 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hey at least it's not another Jesus cover.
posted by condour75 at 7:19 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Liza, your comment also happens to be yet another example of the war on women, by women.

Sugar soy water they call formula... giving your kids formula because you dont want your boobs to sag or it's too inconvenient isn't

I know plenty of great moms who have formula fed, and none of them did it because breastfeeding was inconvenient or impeded their vanity. Aside from medical reasons, lots of women have to work to help support their families, and most workplaces are barely cognizant of breastfeeding, let alone supportive of it. Even if they could pump ten times a day, there shouldn't be anything wrong with a woman saying "you know what, I hate pumping and I don't want to do it all day long." Moms are people with our own wants and needs, too, and a happy well-balanced mom is good for a baby.

Me, I am still breastfeeding my 22 month old. We're down to one or two sessions a day because he's losing interest (and I'm not pushing it on him, it's strictly on an "ask for it" basis now). Whatever. He also guzzled bottles of formula when I had to go back to work after 10 weeks of maternity leave. Formula wasn't some kind of magical poison that destroyed our nursing relationship or made him an allergy-ridden cracked out sugar freak. He's healthy, he's happy, and he's a pretty smart little dude.

Mr. Encyclopedia- what, I don't even.... seriously? Besides some people needing two incomes for things like paying for heating oil, food, and student loans, some of us women actually enjoy our careers. I didn't suddenly lose interest in the field I chose to go to grad school for and worked in for almost a decade just because I popped out a kid.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 7:29 PM on May 12, 2012 [38 favorites]


it amazes me people would call breastfeeding "selfish".

Breastfeeding by itself is not selfish, no. Having your kid latched on to your exposed boob on a national magazine cover is the height of selfishness. Grumet made an informed choice and agreed to do this cover. Do you think the kid had the capacity to make a similar decision? Grumet clearly wants to bring attention to herself. In the process, she also stands to make a few bucks through endorsement opportunities and increased traffic to her blog. A mother is free to make whatever parenting decisions she feels are necessary to raising a healthy and well-adjusted child. But, she also has an obligation to that child to not involve that child in a publicity stunt that has the potential to ruin his adolescent life.

Afroblanco very correctly observes: I feel so very, very sorry for the kid on that Time cover. You think your adolescence was tough? Kid's got a hard road ahead of him.

On the bright side, at least his mommy was able to score a point for attachment parenting or whatever the hell weird thing she's into.


As young Arum goes through school, do you think that he won't be taunted by this picture by his classmates? This cover is now accessible by anyone at anytime until the Internet stops working. Kids have proven themselves to be ruthless in exploiting any and all weakness or defect that is embarrassing (see the bullying epidemic). Whether people want to admit it or not, boys and girls are different. I can't speak to how girls would react. But, having attended primary school here in the US, the teasing and ridicule Arum will experience as a boy will be terrible. I have an unusual name and was a nerd in high school, so I experienced my fair share of bullying. I would have had it a million times worse if those kids had a picture of me taking a pull off my mom's boob. I shudder to think what that boy will have to go through as a result of this.

For Arum's sake, I hope he's able to either be home schooled or that the strict anti-bullying, First Amendment trampling laws that are proposed ad nauseum pass before he reaches middle school.
posted by reenum at 7:39 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


As to how long is "right" to breastfeed, that's not Time Magazine's nor anybody else's business—as it should be, because individual kids differ dramatically. Time just needs something to get their repressed American readership stirred up about, to sell their pathetic advertisements. The target audience who would like to run other people's private lives, people like this are why the government would like to run my private life. Thanks a lot.

Of course for many people it's a referrendum on breastfeeding generally. A parent's right to decide whether to breastfeed or not falls under the same heading of it's their own business. Our kids were breastfed and we think it's best all other things being equal—but I hate to read about the hectoring endured by those who decide otherwise for ANY reason. It is of course a moral obligation for each parent to be as well educated as possible. But your main responsibility as a parent is to help your kids grow up healthy by whatever means according to your own best judgment and efforts.

Mommy wars, ugh. I'm getting tired of wars.
posted by maniabug at 7:48 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


>As young Arum goes through school, do you think that he won't be taunted by this picture by his classmates?

No, I think being named "Arum" is enough grounds for being taunted.
posted by Catblack at 8:14 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


is she an attachment parent or an image obsessed attention whore

Not bad, but could you work 'slut' in there somewhere as well?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:17 PM on May 12, 2012 [28 favorites]




I'm a nursing mother, and I continue to be amazed at how many people find the act of breastfeeding offensive. Forget about nursing a 3 year old - even breastfeeding an infant, while wearing a nursing cover, has gotten me the stink eye. I guess because people know what I'm doing under there, or something.

So this cover really pissed me off, because it's not like nursing in this country is an easy thing. Now they have to play up on people's weird insistence on sexualizing it to a whole new level.

A few weeks ago I was on the bus and a young mom (she seemed to be a teenager to me) got on with her son, he must have been maybe a little under 2. He got hungry, she discretly pulled down her shirt, and nursed her baby. I wanted to go up to her and tell her she was awesome, but of course that would have been weird.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 8:45 PM on May 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sugar soy water they call formula... giving your kids formula because you dont want your boobs to sag or it's too inconvenient isn't

Ugh. I consider myself an advocate for breastfeeding. I read about it often. I am breastfeeding my nine month old now, and will for as long as he wants. He was a terrible latcher at first, and feeding him was unusually excruciating, but I spent weeks working with a lactation consultant to get through it. I am a substitute teacher and after I went back to work I set up my pump and took off my top in a strange classroom every single day. Then I hit the "six month pumping slump" and my supply at the pump went way down, and none of the things they suggest (follow a rigid schedule! take extra time to relax! make your pumping space more comfortable!) were feasible for me so starting at six months my baby has been on formula as well as breastmilk. If you think that well, you have a good reason, not everyone does, then I say who are you to judge? What reasons are good enough? How hard do you have to try to try hard enough? Why is it anyone else's business?

This kind of mommy wars bullshit used to be something I had to avoid on blogs and message boards. Now it's in Time and Consumer Reports, too?

You know, having a baby and breastfeeding at the same time as the recent attacks on women and women's health has made me actually feel "sisterhood" for the first time. I have never felt more like a woman but this whole thing just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

Obviously, liza, this wasn't really addressed at you. I kinda just started ranting. We probably agree on more than we disagree on.
posted by that's how you get ants at 9:03 PM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


When they get teeth it is time to ween. Extreme breastfeeding is about the mother not the child. My son breast fed until 26 months and stopped on his own as food vs breast milk won out. I can't imagine a child wanting to breast feed much longer without encouragement. The Game of Thrones seems to have inspired this round of notoriety.
posted by pdxpogo at 9:21 PM on May 12, 2012


Time definitely tried to amplify the sexual undertones,

THERE ARE NO SEXUAL UNDERTONES TO BREASTFEEDING!!!

Ok, someone had to say it. But really, there aren't. How do you think babies and toddlers get milk from breasts? It's not via osmosis. They put their mouth on the nipple, push their face into the breast and they suck. When they're a bit older they often use their hands to hold the breast too. If they're too old or big to be held the lay or stand to nurse. If you really think that's sexual, I'd say you have some kind of weird hangup, not this family.
posted by fshgrl at 9:25 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I had to go back to work after 10 weeks of maternity leave

Holy shit, only 10 weeks? I am so glad to be in Canada right now.
posted by Hoopo at 9:29 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


you have some kind of weird hangup, not this family.

You're misreading delmoi. He's saying that Time is taking something non-sexual and sexualizing it. And he's obviously correct. Well, not sexualizing the act itself necessarily, but they are absolutely posing the mom in a way to play up her sexuality as much as possible. Cover up the kid and she's a sexy model in a sexy model pose.
posted by Justinian at 9:30 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yep, I knew the antivax thing was in there somewhere.

That's not the half of it.

If you scroll up a bit to my earlier comment and click through, you'll see that even Mayim "she's got a Ph.D., so she knows everything about parenting" Bialik is an anti-vaxer.

To her credit, she's not evangelical about it, and consulted her pediatrician and everything. Trouble is, her pediatrician is also Jenny McCarthy's pediatrician -- Dr. Jay Gordon, the "vaccines cause autism" guy.

(She's also the face of Holistic Moms, which counts among its sponsors Boiron--"world leader in homeopathic medicines"--, The Centre for Homeopathic Education New York, and The National Center for Homeopathy. Hmm.)

And Bill Sears, the attachment parenting guru, is the father of Bob Sears, (former?) anti-vax guru. They often coauthor parenting books together.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:48 PM on May 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


maybe they'll pick up on the overt sexualization of the image and make MILF jokes instead, who knows?

or MILS jokes?
posted by TwoToneRow at 9:54 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


From goofing around with the primate info net factsheets, it looks as though most of the great apes seem to wean their young at around three or four years old.

Since they only live to about 40 years old, that would mean about 7-8 years for us humans. Or something like that. Orangutans can also sit when around 2 weeks old. I really don't think apes are a particularly good model for humans in these matters.
posted by dlg at 10:02 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Suckers.
posted by cashman at 10:34 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


THERE ARE NO SEXUAL UNDERTONES TO BREASTFEEDING!!!

Not in a natural setting, no, but the Time cover employs several tropes of provocative photo composition that are jarring when used in the context of breast feeding. Standing facing each other, totally-not-feeding latch-on by the kid, wide-eyed stare at the camera, etc. That cover is gross because it tries to sexualize breast feeding.
posted by SakuraK at 10:37 PM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't care about breastfeeding or attachment anything one way or the other. I'm just really annoyed at find out neuroscience PhD Mayim Bialik is a fucking anti-vaxxer.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:54 PM on May 12, 2012 [35 favorites]


It is not sexual. It's a woman, a young attractive women standing in a decidedly non sexual pose (unless hands on hips + eye contact has become sexy suddenly) breast feeding a kid that's old enough to look distinctly male and that she doesn't need to help him hold or feed. And he's also looking at the camera.

People are made uncomfortable by this image because they can't contextualize it but it is not an inherently sexual image AT ALL.
posted by fshgrl at 10:56 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm just really annoyed at find out neuroscience PhD Mayim Bialik is a fucking anti-vaxxer.

Sigh... I know. I wonder if she has weekly strategy meetings with Jenny McCarthy.
posted by reenum at 10:59 PM on May 12, 2012


Seems to me it's sexual if enough people believe it's sexual. And enough people seem to do so.
posted by Justinian at 11:00 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is not sexual. It's a woman, a young attractive women standing in a decidedly non sexual pose (unless hands on hips + eye contact has become sexy suddenly) breast feeding a kid that's old enough to look distinctly male and that she doesn't need to help him hold or feed. And he's also looking at the camera.

People are made uncomfortable by this image because they can't contextualize it but it is not an inherently sexual image AT ALL.


As I said above, it's not any sexualization of breastfeeding that I object to. It's that Grumet places her advocacy of attachment parenting above the emotional well-being of her son.
posted by reenum at 11:02 PM on May 12, 2012


I can never understand people who find outrage in breastfeeding. It is simply one of the most beautiful things to behold in the entire universe. At least, for a human.

The photograph in question is catching flack. OMG! That woman looks as if she might have a career! That child appears as if he might even be able to dress himself! How DARE they behave as mother and child!

All this objection to the photo can only come from people who insist on sexualizing the photo. The photo is not sexual unless the viewer adds that to the photo. Seriously.

"There are those who will find obscenity in the crotch of every tree".
posted by Goofyy at 11:26 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, my bad. I figured it out now. It's a terrible, obscene sight and if it MUST be done, should be done in strict privacy. Because, after all, it is completely obscene to show anything which would suggest that men are in any way, at any point, utterly dependent on women. Can't have that!
posted by Goofyy at 11:28 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm just really annoyed at find out neuroscience PhD Mayim Bialik is a fucking anti-vaxxer.

Sigh... I know. I wonder if she has weekly strategy meetings with Jenny McCarthy.


Since I'm the one who brought it up, I feel obligated to reign it in a bit: Anti-vax is just too strong a descriptor here. Non-vax would be more accurate. From what I've read, Bialik's pro-choice on the issue, basically, and leaves it at that, without advocating or pontificating.

As much as I might disagree with her decision, it's hers to make.

She's just getting some crazy bad intel, was my point.

/derail

FWIW, I don't have a problem with toddlers -- or even small children -- breastfeeding. If you've gotta haul those things around everywhere, you might as well get some practical use out of them once in awhile.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:46 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's that Grumet places her advocacy of attachment parenting above the emotional well-being of her son.

Hey, this statement has no basis in fact whatsoever, so cut it the fuck out?
posted by TypographicalError at 11:53 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Definitely Norman Rockwell's best work.
posted by the_bone at 12:53 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


anti-vax people should go spend some time living and working in pakistan, where you will see the first hand results of anti-vaccine propaganda. it's one of the last countries on the planet with an endemic polio problem. you'll see polio-stricken street beggars. religious fundamentalists have been pushing the message that the polio vaccine is some kind of covert sterilization campaign by "westerners" to reduce the population of good god-fearing muslims.
posted by thewalrus at 1:11 AM on May 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if she were less attractive, and if the kid were a year or two younger, this wouldn't be a thing. Now, clearly TIME was going for something provocative when they selected this photo for the cover, but does that make anything about it wrong? I don't think so.
posted by mantecol at 1:26 AM on May 13, 2012


Saw this fuss coming a mile off when I saw that Time cover and was bored with it in advance.

Every eighteen months or so, there's some novel way the news decides to tell mothers that they're fucking up. And everyone argues about it on television instead of talking about wage disparity between genders or inadequate allowances for maternity leave or cuts to preschool programs or any other issue that has actual impact on actual lives but doesn't afford people the chance to argue about the best possible deployment of the nation's breasts.

Then some other dumb shit distracts the news and they scream about that for awhile. Then someone writes an article about how a mother's hair color affects their child's college prospects and then it's time to scream about how some mothers are doing it wrong for awhile again. Then maybe there's an OMGAFFE at an awards show or something and everyone moves on again for awhile.

Yawns all around. Time trolled everyone.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:00 AM on May 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


The act of nursing is not sexual for the mother or the child. Those are the only two that it matters for. The idea that breasts are inherently sexual is kind of messed up and should be binned with the inherent sexiness of ankles. More open and public breast feeding would help this.

In Mongolia, there's an oft-quoted saying that the best wrestlers are breastfed for at least six years - a serious endorsement in a country where wrestling is the national sport. I moved to Mongolia when my first child was four months old, and lived there until he was three.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 2:24 AM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


liza: it amazes me people would call breastfeeding "selfish". giving your kids formula because you dont want your boobs to sag or it's too inconvenient isn't?
....
this is another example of the war on women.


Yes, thanks, you just gave us a fantastic example of the war (by women) on women.
posted by Catch at 2:31 AM on May 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I had to go back to work after 10 weeks of maternity leave

Holy shit, only 10 weeks? I am so glad to be in Canada right now.


Yeah, you Canadians are awesomely lucky. I actually consider myself among the lucky in the US because I got my full pay, some of my friends only got disability pay or nothing at all. Employers are required to give us the leave but they aren't required to pay us for it. I think my maternity leave was technically only 8 or 9 weeks, I know I had to supplement a bit with vacation time at the end.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 3:57 AM on May 13, 2012


Since I'm the one who brought it up, I feel obligated to reign it in a bit: Anti-vax is just too strong a descriptor here. Non-vax would be more accurate. From what I've read, Bialik's pro-choice on the issue, basically, and leaves it at that, without advocating or pontificating.

No. A high profile Non-Vaxer who publicly discloses her choice not to vaccinate in the same interview in which she discusses her scientific qualifications is definitely Anti-vax. People will read her interview and associate her academic credentials with her non-vax position, as though it's ground in some sort of solid reasoning. And this association, whether it be conscious or subconscious, will inform their decision not to vaccinate their own children. As I'm sure somebody with a PhD in neuroscience would no doubt be aware of.

I don't have a strong position on the 'AP' debate, but I do not trust this woman to espouse an informed scientific perspective.
posted by kisch mokusch at 5:01 AM on May 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


I have no idea how these women manage it. My kid decided at 10 months that she was too darn busy to breastfeed any more.
posted by Peach at 5:43 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it funny that the two diametrically opposed parenting controversies of the past decade (AP and Babywise) both come from Evangelical Christian roots. It make me wonder what exactly they're after, besides making you feel not loving/strict enough, and then I read the part about how you're supposed to go into debt to stay at home with your kids, and yeah, I get suspicious.

It's always going to be easy to prey on parents' intense love of their babies to sell a book and an agenda. We want so desperately for our kids to turn out all right, and that really makes us vulnerable.

As for extended breastfeeding. Do it if it's good for your family, but don't pretend it will magically make your kid turn out better. The variation in your kids' genes make much more of a difference than the variation in your parenting styles, and for the most part, you'd be better served paying attention to who your kid is and parenting appropriately for his or her personality instead of killing yourself trying to live up to the ideal of some book.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:23 AM on May 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


My wife chose not to breast feed at all. Dire consequences included:

- mealtime bonding with BOTH parents.
- ability to schedule feedings at will.
- return to social drinking for mom.
- delegation of feeding to non-mom actors (friends, grandparents, and shockingly... DAD) at any hour.
- self feeds from bottle by 6 months.
- solid foods by 9 months. Meats by 12.
- a child who sleeps through the night since month 2, the myriad ripple effects of which are too numerous to list.

But hey, I'm just a dad, and anecdote != data.

(Babywise FTW)
posted by butterstick at 7:38 AM on May 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


My son breast fed until 26 months and stopped on his own as food vs breast milk won out. I can't imagine a child wanting to breast feed much longer without encouragement

1. Your son didn't get teeth until he over 2 years old?

2. You have a very weak imagination if you think that no child could possibly have a different relationship to nursing than yours.
posted by not that girl at 8:14 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll join the chorus saying I'm disappointed in Time for throwing another log on the "OMG MOMMY WARS!!!" fire. Way to troll, Time, way to troll. I read a great blog post earlier this week that I can't find at the moment that reminded me that it's pretty ridiculous for us to fight over all this superficial stuff when there are tens of thousands of children who don't have caring parents at all; they're being abused, neglected, they're in foster care with little hope of being adopted. Makes me worry a lot less about whatever internet-judgment comes my way for whatever choices we end up making with our kid. All that faux-drama is fake and unimportant.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:26 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you think this is offensive, wait till you see what the kid is going to have to do on the Fathers' Day cover
posted by Renoroc at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's the typical maternity leave given by employers in the US? 3 months? 4? That's what really drives women to curtail breastfeeding and switch to formula early. Sure, a lot of them will attempt to pump after they go back to work, but the barriers against it make pumping at work an incredible PITA, even if you have an enlightened/sympathetic employer..
posted by Thorzdad at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, Thorzdad! The only thing keeping women from doing anything is our own lazy selfishness and vanity! Get with the program!
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:37 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Human–animal breastfeeding (Wikipedia) ".. asses were disfavoured as wet nurses as it was thought that a child suckled on asses' milk would acquire the animal's stupidity.."
posted by stbalbach at 8:42 AM on May 13, 2012


My wife chose not to breast feed at all. Dire consequences included:

N=1ing but my mother breastfed me until I was 3.5 (and I was upset about stopping she says) and I have struggled with all the problems that breastfeeding is supposed to prevent like allergies, asthma, and bowel problems.

Either way, so many other factors where that this is why we have studies, studies that overwhelmingly show that breastfeeding has benefits, even for just a few weeks. This is why countries like Norway are so supportive of the practice and breastfeeding rates in the first week there are around 99% with a significant percentage of the remaining 1% receiving donor milk. As far as I'm concerned, this shows that most women will chose to do this if given a true choice and real support.

In the US however there is way too much emphasis on individual-level choices on health outcomes, rather than population-level efforts to improve public health like in Scandinavia. I blog a bit about epidemiology and I wrote a post about c-sections and their connections to allergies. I seriously got emails from (American) women saying that I was "blaming women." I told them I would be dead without a c-section but I don't understand what exceptions like me have to do with hospital-level policies.
posted by melissam at 8:43 AM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, I think because formula formulations have gotten MUCH better over the past decade, with DHA and prebiotics being a welcome addition, it's possible that the benefits of breastfeeding will disappear from studies in the future.
posted by melissam at 8:45 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


When a heckler heckled Bill Hicks with the "your parents sucked at raising you" business he told the dude:

"My mama never beat me.
My daddy never fucked me.
Who the hell cares what else?"
posted by bukvich at 9:01 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm really tired of the Mommy Wars. I'm so over it.

My oldest child was formula. Guess what? At the age of 3, he's been sick less often than many of his breastfed counterparts and those same breastfed counterparts have allergies and he doesn't.

My second child is mostly breastfed, but the pump and I are not friends, so she gets the few ounces I am able to pump at work and has some formula at daycare. She exclusively breastfeeds in the evenings and on the weekends.

I wore both of my babies in slings and carriers, and not because I was some super martyr mommy but because it was freaking EASIER than a stroller. I lived in Boston when my first was born. I had seen people wrangling strollers on and off the T, and I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to do that. It looked like so much more work than it needed to be. Carrying my son in a sling made it EASIER to get around the city.

We now live in a suburb of Boston, and it's STILL easier to carry her because I can nurse her in the carrier and because I commute with her --- not dealing with a stroller on the commuter rail and the T and the buses, now.

I also believe my kids have reaped benefits from being carried, and not just psychosocially. Both of them were holding their heads up on their own somewhere around 8 weeks. Our doctor was seriously impressed with their head control, and I'm convinced that being held upright in the sling helped them to develop that control early but also that it's given them a stronger core than riding in a stroller leaning back for hours at a time.

But whatever. That was more a side effect than an intentional plan when I decided to babywear. It was just easier. So was having them sleep in bed with us. It was easier on us, especially with my son who didn't sleep through the night for over a year. Not having to get out of bed to fix him a bottle let us get more sleep.

But those were OUR choices. Long as a kid isn't being abused or neglected or hurt or molested, I don't really care how other parents parent.
posted by zizzle at 9:18 AM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


butterstick: "My wife chose not to breast feed at all. Dire consequences included:

- mealtime bonding with BOTH parents.
- ability to schedule feedings at will.
- return to social drinking for mom.
- delegation of feeding to non-mom actors (friends, grandparents, and shockingly... DAD) at any hour.
- self feeds from bottle by 6 months.
- solid foods by 9 months. Meats by 12.
- a child who sleeps through the night since month 2, the myriad ripple effects of which are too numerous to list.

But hey, I'm just a dad, and anecdote != data.

(Babywise FTW)
"

FYI, my baby was exclusively breast/pumped milk for six months, and all of those except the alcohol apply to us as well. I think it's a shame that there's this notion that breastfeeding consumes a mother's life when it really doesn't have to if you can pump once in a while.

That said, I do think the pumping issue, especially pumping at work, is a red herring. The real issue is maternity leave. People in this thread have mentioned six weeks, twelve weeks, etc, but there are so so many woman who get nothing at all. For me, it was don't work, don't get paid. Any time I spent at home was money I wasn't earning.
posted by that's how you get ants at 9:31 AM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, and I meant to mention that I know that pumping doesn't work for everyone, which is yet another reason that everyone's family will make their own decision, and it's nobody else's concern.
posted by that's how you get ants at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it funny that the two diametrically opposed parenting controversies of the past decade (AP and Babywise) both come from Evangelical Christian roots.

When I was talking to my mom about this Time cover and she was asking me about "Attachment Parenting," I told her "Well, since it's how you raised me, I guess you'd just call it *parenting.*"

My mom is not an Evangelical Christian. She's just your garden variety came-of-age-in-the-70's hippie.

I personally found out at around four or five months after my son was born that I'm an "attachment parent." Who knew?! I was just doing what worked for me and incorporating a lot of the ways that I'd been raised and then I read the AP book by Dr. Sears and found out kinda by accident that what I'm doing is a "thing" now. I'm not a Christian, evangelical or otherwise.

I'd also like to point out that the AP book by Dr. Sears is the most heterosexist piece of schlock I've encountered for something claiming to be embracing of all parents. It really should be titled The Attachment Biological Mother's Handbook for all of the practical advice it gives to co-parents or really anyone who did not personally birth their child.
posted by sonika at 9:35 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't add "slut" because it wouldn't be fitting. Married wife and mother with no hint of extramarital affairs. Taking an idiotic photo which doesn't even show breastfeeding, giving her son a "unique" idiotic name, and having an idiotic blog and twitter handle that boils down to, "o my god people keep confusing me with a babysitter because I am so young and hot" however does make her an attention whore. Just because I hate vain self obsessed women does not mean I hate all women.
posted by karmiolz at 9:45 AM on May 13, 2012


karmiolz: " Taking an idiotic photo which doesn't even show breastfeeding, giving her son a "unique" idiotic name, and having an idiotic blog and twitter handle that boils down to, "o my god people keep confusing me with a babysitter because I am so young and hot" however does make her an attention whore. Just because I hate vain self obsessed women does not mean I hate all women."

Maybe you can chill the fuck out?

I think the "I'm not the babysitter" thing comes from the fact that one of her kids is her biological child and the other is adopted and obviously of another race. I imagine people assume she can't possibly be the mom to both of them.

And yes, "Aram" is an uncommon name but for fuck's sake you're calling an ancient biblical name "idiotic"
posted by secretseasons at 10:15 AM on May 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


I find the hypocrisy of parenting that masquerades as being best for the child but really just serves to highlight how enlightened, informed, and devoted the parent wants to appear to everyone else particularly annoying. Agreed though I am speaking through finals-fueled rage and more vitriolic than normal, my apologies.
posted by karmiolz at 10:30 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reactions from around the web:
Lisa Belkin: No. I Am Not Mom Enough.
The Skeptical OB: We ask mothers the wrong questions
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:57 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just because I hate vain self obsessed women does not mean I hate all women.

Just certain women who ought to know better, eh? How progressive of you.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:02 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fuck Time magazine. Way to add not one useful bit of anything to the universe.

I'm currently (as in, while I type this) nursing my third child, who will be 16 months old tomorrow. I nursed his older siblings until 2.5 and 2 years. That does not make me any better a mother than anyone.

Fuck the mommy wars. And fuck the mommy blaming. My only judgment is this - if your kid is a sociopath, you suck as a parent. Otherwise, keep on keeping on.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:08 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


My oldest child was formula. Guess what? At the age of 3, he's been sick less often than many of his breastfed counterparts and those same breastfed counterparts have allergies and he doesn't.

My second child is mostly breastfed, but the pump and I are not friends, so she gets the few ounces I am able to pump at work and has some formula at daycare. She exclusively breastfeeds in the evenings and on the weekends.


I think parents who have more than one child and did things differently for each tend to be less dogmatic about these things, since the results can seem pretty random. I was vaginally delivered without medication and breastfed; my sister was born by C-section (2 months premature) and formula-fed. Guess which one of us is the natural childbirth advocate and which is the technophile Skeptical OB fan?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2012


I find the hypocrisy of parenting that masquerades as being best for the child but really just serves to highlight how enlightened, informed, and devoted the parent wants to appear to everyone else particularly annoying.

I'm just going to offer up that most of why I've used AP methods is because I'm lazy.

Breastfeeding? If you're at home with the baby anyway (which I am lucky enough to be by choice), it's easier than making a bottle. Especially in the middle of the night. Leave the house? It's easy to leave without formula. Hard to leave without your boobs. Things would have been different on this front if I'd had to work outside the home and pump... but I didn't and when my son weaned at 10mos (due to an ear infection - he went on a nursing strike and then once his ear felt better, he simply didn't want to resume breastfeeding) and I had to suddenly make *bottles.* UGH. I was very grateful for the time I had where I didn't have to wash twelve zillion bottles per day.

Babywearing is WHERE. IT'S. AT. for keeping track of a squirmy, restless baby. In the early phases, it helped soothe him to sleep. Now I still wear him on my back when we run errands as he's much calmer and better behaved than he is if I put him in the shopping cart, where he just wants to escape. Babywearing meant I could get things done with both hands! And when we'd go out, strapping him into the Ergo meant I didn't have to lift that heavy infant seat out of the car! Or put him in a really bulky stroller!

Co-sleeping was non-negotiable - we lived in a 1BR when my son was born. It was the only option. And it worked great. He was never *in* our bed, but in an attached bassinet and not ever being out of arm's reach was super helpful when he was waking every two hours. Because we were co-sleeping, I would automatically respond to him in the night and I truly think that it made it easier to transition into sleeping on his own later on, that he knew his needs would be met. He sleeps great in his own crib in his own room now and when we eventually have a second, I'll do things the same way - start in our room, transition to their own room later.

These were all things that I did because I was tired and wanted to soothe my baby with the bare minimum of effort to myself. It wasn't at all "extreme" or because I wanted to appear devoted. It's because mama wanted to occasionally eat a g-ddamn sandwich with BOTH hands.
posted by sonika at 11:38 AM on May 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


First of all, Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

As for the "Mommy" "Nursing" wars, and the war on women, well yeah--divide and conquer.

For the record I did nurse all four of my born-without-drugs-at-home brood for two to almost four years, and some of my best friends, not to mention my sister-in-law are still around thanks to emergency c-sections. There is room for all of us here in the tent that is not really a tent at all.

As for public health policy and education I am all for it. The spectacularization of health care and parenting choices not so much, although in our society it is nothing if not inevitable.

One anecdote: Some twenty-three years ago, I was nursing my almost two-year-old daughter on the subway in Brooklyn, discreetly, mind you, but she was big for her age and her legs hung off my lap. I was twenty-five. A man, easily in his late fifties, approached us, his head cocked to one side, and asked point blank, "Excuse me, what exactly are you doing?" It seemed not a prurient question; I think he really didn't know. "I am feeding my child," I said. "Oh! Excuse me!" he went away, eyebrows up. I thought, wow, I guess he really didn't get it. Then again, growing up in the late 70's in Manhattan, I'd never really seen a lot of things until I found myself doing them.

BTW The illustrious Dr. Sears led a kind of double life, as a mainstream baby guru, and as a "Christian Parenting" expert. I tried in vain to find a citation, but during the early '90's, the only time I attended La Leche meetings, I read an article exposing his recommendations for just how to administer corporal punishment (to toddlers!) including advice on "choosing a switch" which would be narrow enough to both "cause pain" and "not leave a mark." Fuck you Dr. Sears! I showed it to the LLL leader who was more than a little shocked. Back in the dark ages--before the internets--it was possible to preach to two different audiences, and he did. (And I agree with you, Sonika, he was always most "heterocentrist.")
posted by emhutchinson at 11:48 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


My only judgment is this - if your kid is a sociopath, you suck as a parent. Otherwise, keep on keeping on.

See the thread below for my opinion on this statement.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:57 AM on May 13, 2012




Some folks should just not have kids.
posted by pixienat at 12:10 PM on May 13, 2012


EatTheWeak Yup, just certain women who treat their children like accessories to express their own needs for validation and attention rather than a human being.
posted by karmiolz at 12:57 PM on May 13, 2012


Karmiolz, I definitely hear stories about women like that, but I don't think I've ever met any and I'm not sure they actually exist. I think maybe when we see a woman who treats children like accessories, we're misinterpreting.
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:07 PM on May 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


karmiolz - According to your own definitions of "vanity" and "self-absorption," naturally. And in defiance of your definitions of, what, humility and temperance, I guess? Your projections of how women and mothers ought to behave? How much validation is a mother allowed to need before she's crossed into that category of mothers that you disapprove of so strongly?

Maybe you should write an article for TIME detailing how mothers should act in order to evade your hatred. The world is dying to know.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Does anyone commenting here genuinely believe going on the cover of Time was a decision she made for the betterment of her child and not herself? You are darn right that I think exposing your child to unnecessary national scrutiny is not how a mother should behave.
posted by karmiolz at 1:28 PM on May 13, 2012


Yup, just certain women who treat their children like accessories to express their own needs for validation and attention rather than a human being.

I've never met any woman fitting this criteria. Perhaps you and I just don't know the same women.

I think more likely is that you are viewing the choice to parent through the lens of your own experiences and I'm guessing that they include the choice to not have kids of your own. I don't know what you think has given you the authority to presume about the intentions of "certain women," but I can tell you that you absolutely do not have an actual basis for criticism.

Which is really the point. It doesn't matter how you choose to parent (and why is it always mothers drawing the public ire? Even Attachment *Parenting* is viewed as Attachment *Mothering*). What matters is that you have a child and decide to parent him/her to the best of your ability. This desire to actually *raise a child* is what has driven the parenting choices of every parent I know - not selfishness or validation.

The reason parents get upset when their choices are ripped apart isn't because we do it to get accolades, it's because parenting is fucking hard and full of doubt and it's going to be a few decades before any of us see if we were doing it "right" - that in the midst of all this complete strangers (in which I include the media) are ripping us apart? That's just bullshit.
posted by sonika at 1:30 PM on May 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


You are darn right that I think exposing your child to unnecessary national scrutiny is not how a mother should behave.

I'm trying really hard to give you the benefit of the doubt, but your profile indicates that you have a typically male name and thus I'm going to assume you come with the typically accompanying XY chromosomes. You have all the right to tell a forum including mothers (and other parents) how a mother SHOULD behave as I do telling a proctologist how a colonoscopy SHOULD be done.

Which is to say: None. None at all.
posted by sonika at 1:35 PM on May 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't have kids and I never breastfed as a child (adopted), but I saw that picture a few days ago without context and it seemed perfectly normal to me... after reading the article, the mom said the kid is self-weaning now, and so what's the big deal? Some kids breastfeed longer than others? Some kids sleep in their parents' bed longer than others? This is new, and society is going to collapse now?

America is weird about boobs.
posted by Huck500 at 1:47 PM on May 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Speaking for myself, I will admit to being a selfish parent. Many of my parenting decisions, and to some degree my husband's as well, are made based on what works for me first and what works for my daughter second. However, most of the time I've found that our interests align pretty well. Or that's what I like to think because I like sleeping and eating candy in private.

I went back to work about two weeks after my daughter was born. I didn't do it because I was bored at home (I am capable of watching unlimited Netflix), but because my company has two helpful policies. First, maternity leave is six weeks paid, and it can be taken all at once, or hour-by-hour. Second, babies are allowed at work until 6 months of age. There was even a little private room with a bed in it for feedings and naps. By going back early I could stretch my leave for months and save it for when I really needed it.

So, I took the kid to work with me for five and a half months. I did the attachment parenting thing because it was the easiest thing for me. I wore her because I needed two hands to type. I breastfed her because I didn't need to carry any extra equipement and because I could hold her with one hand and then run unit tests and kill bugs with the other hand. We co-slept because it maximized my sleep quantity and quality. We cloth diapered for an entire 12 hours and then stopped because it did not work for the baby or us.

Many attachment parenting practices felt easy and natural for us just as long and the baby and I were together all day, but I totally understand that they do not fit reality for most parents. I know my job is a rare one in that it can be performed with a baby strapped to me, and I have coworkers who did not give me the stink eye whenever my daughter cried or farted audibly during a meeting. I was also lucky in that my baby rarely fussed and really easygoing about my work schedule.

I imagine that the next child will be some sort of demon who will burn down the office just to balance the karmic load.

I believe that moms and dads should do whatever works for them and if the child is healthy and thriving no one really needs to give them grief. Despite my experience, it seems like the benefits from breastfeeding and baby-wearing are so imperceptible that it doesn't really matter in the long run. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing sleep and parental sanity over a feeding method. Just like there is nothing wrong with going out of your way to try to do what you think is best for your kid.

We waste so much energy fretting over parenting choices that probably don't matter that if we found a way to harness it we could power over a million robots to complain about parenting on the internet. We could turn provocative magazine cover photos into the new green energy producer.
posted by Alison at 1:59 PM on May 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Alison I like the way you put it. There is nothing wrong with taking care of your life as a whole and shooting for, "if the child is healthy and thriving no one really needs to give them grief" outcome. I look at that picture and the only thing that jumps out at me is that the kid looks like a prop. Couple that with the title, not her choice I know, her choice of name for the kid, her blog, and the fact that we all know the kid is going to get grief for this photo and I doubt her espoused intentions.

Anti vaxx people are wrong but at least there reason for being highly publicized is internally consistent. This mother just comes off as preachy and self-aggrandizing. It's just annoying until you force your kid to be a part of the scrutiny as she did.
posted by karmiolz at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2012


karmiolz - Your skill in judgment and condemnation has been well demonstrated - you have added another item to the list of things that mothers Should Not Do.

I notice that you've sidestepped the more interesting question, however. Please, edify us with the Definitive Karmiolz Guide to Motherhood - clearly, you've some strong opinions about the way it Ought to Be and are upset that there are mothers who do not conform to that model. It would be helpful, then, to know your ideal methods for child-rearing. You've covered well the domain of things that mothers should not do and you hate the ones who indulge in these activities over your objections.

But, what should a mother do about her responsibilities in order to meet with your approval? I'm sure all the mothers reading this thread are most anxious to know. So please, be our guest and explain it to them.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:14 PM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


EatTheWeak Parent for the benefit of your child. Whatever the specific needs of the kid may be. I don't see how making yourself a public figure based on what an amazing mother you perceive yourself to be and taking a picture that will be used to embarrass your kid does that. The kid has no say in the matter, it's strange to me to thrust them into a debate they have no say to demonstrate just what an amazing mother you are.
posted by karmiolz at 2:24 PM on May 13, 2012


karmiolz - you do know she was just one person participating in a photo story commissioned by Time? She was chosen as the cover star by the photographer, who also determined the concept and poses. As you rightly point out she also had nothing to do with the cover line.

This isn't some press crusade on the part of the mother. She was asked to participate so she did. Why shouldn't she? What does it matter to you what she calls her kid?
posted by Summer at 2:30 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


karmiolz - So, two sentences (well, a sentence and a sentence fragment) of positive advice and a couple more multiclause condemnations based largely on your own opinions and projections. Gotcha.

Even if this Time story was the whole-cloth creation of the cover model, does it necessarily follow that from her perspective her actions are inconsistent with your provisos? Perhaps she does see this as to the benefit of her child and, in the long view, children everywhere. Perhaps it makes sense to her, we cannot say.

But it brings me to a more interesting question: How do you apply your conceptions of proper parenting in your work with your own children? Is the way you raise your kids a parenting method that is of benefit to them? Do you satisfy your own requirements?
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:37 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't this whole debate about our own opinions and projections? I don't like pageant moms either. I do not think making a kid take a picture which will be used to embarrass him later in life. The mother receives national attention and praise from the community to which she identifies with at the expense of her son's privacy.

I definitely think there is an interesting debate to be had about whether or not he should be embarrassed but rest assured kids can be mean and Aram is going to catch crap. I just see a situation where the mother has put herself before her child in a non-trivial way and I disapprove. I find it hypocritical that she does so under the guise of what a better parent she is than others.
posted by karmiolz at 2:47 PM on May 13, 2012


[Folks, please don't make this thread all about one person's opinions. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 3:26 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it hypocritical that she does so under the guise of what a better parent she is than others.

Every "attachment parent" I know would correct you and say that they parent *differently* from the norm, not *better.* I don't claim to speak for each and every one of them, but at least for myself - stories like this are spun as "These people think they're better parents!" but that's spin.

I'm quite active in Attachment/Gentle Parenting circles in my area and this is a common criticism, even from other parents. And it's not an accurate one. Things discussed on the Gentle Parenting forums I'm involved in: How do I draw boundaries and stop my kid from biting me without yelling at him? What kind of laundry detergent is best for cloth diapers? Things not discussed: I'm such a better parent than people who use formula!

In general, I've found that AP'ers tend to be much harder on themselves than other parents and much more likely to compare themselves to women like this and feel like they fall short than they are likely to compare themselves to more conventional parents and feel a sense of accomplishment. Seriously. In my various groups, weaning at 10mos was *super* early and I've felt like I need to justify myself for getting an epidural during the birth. The competition, such as it is, is one that takes place largely through self-shaming, not at all through self-aggrandizement. "I wish I could have co-slept as long as so-and-so!" "Blahblah's baby sleeps through the night, what am I doing wrong?" Etc. If there are women in these groups who are thinking/saying "Oh, wow. I'm a much better mother because I didn't wean until 3 years" - they're not doing so in any spaces I've been in, publicly or privately.
posted by sonika at 4:56 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! you really think am going to begrudge a parent who needs to give their kids some formula? it was invented for a reason. i am not opposed to it --what i am opposed is to women being sold the idea

-- their breastmilk isn't good enough
-- breastfeeding creates needy children
-- working mothers cannot or should not express breastmilk
-- a woman's body is icky

look, breastfeeding takes a HUGE toll on some women and i am testifying to that right now. those moms that after breastfeeding go for a jog? they're superhuman. me? i was more of the sitting still and chewing my cud variety (hence my nickname mommy moo cow).

but let's not deceive ourselves: the obstetrics "industry", including hospitals, are complicit in the failure of many women's ability to breastfeed their children. i had both my kids in hospitals. we were very vocal about NO FORMULA and yet hospital personnel, especially nurse attendants tried every which way to feed formula to our kids.

my first son was delivered via c-section, my second son by VBAC. i had to stay longer than the 24-48 hours most women stay after deliver for both. it was a constant "don't leave the baby alone for they'll try to formula feed them" during that time. they knew that drugs and pitocin can mess around with your ability to breastfeed during those first 12 hours --cracked nipples while still dilating placenta isn't fun-- and yet they were very aggressive about formula feeding two insanely healthy babies during those first 12 hours.

then, i get home and there are literally 2 boxes of formula waiting for us at our door. and i mean two boxes PER CHILD. the companies know those first few hours and days are insanely critical for successful breastfeeding and know exactly what they need to do to sabotage it.

look, if no matter what you couldn't go the tit route then by all means do not feel bad about your choices. FEED THAT CHILD. i am not judging you.

i will come down like a ton of bricks on all the "experts" and medical personnel who fuck with women's ability to breastfeed by deliberately encouraging shame and failure. and that's what i get from all the brouhaha.

but peeps, seriously, you had to give your kids formula? your kids are healthy? that's all that matters, really.
posted by liza at 5:05 PM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


btw, this right here ----> That said, I do think the pumping issue, especially pumping at work, is a red herring. The real issue is maternity leave. and not just maternity leave, but pre- and post-birth maternity-friendly working environments.

can't remember who upthread mentioned they work at a place that allowed her to bring her baby to work for the first 4-6 months? OMG, had i had that opportunity, i would have been all over that shit :D
posted by liza at 5:16 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


liza I read that too and was excited. That would be awesome. It's insane just how little headway into changing a truly archaic work atmosphere we have made.
posted by karmiolz at 5:24 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


look, if no matter what you couldn't go the tit route then by all means do not feel bad about your choices.

It's funny you put it that way, because I feel like there's a lot of mixed messages when it comes to breast/formula feeding. You should try to breastfeed, it is best, it will make your child the healthiest, smartest, best baby they can be, but if you try (and you must try) and you fail, formula is great, wonderful, your baby will not be harmed by drinking it. Even the most straightforward materials I've read seem to dance really awkwardly around the large elephant in the room of, maybe formula is not just good if you've FAILED!! at breastfeeding, maybe it is no less good if you don't try to breastfeed and just use it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:26 PM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm just really annoyed at find out neuroscience PhD Mayim Bialik is a fucking anti-vaxxer.

OK. So I just found out that Mayim Bialik has a PhD, and I was curious as to what kind of research she did, particularly in the context of this antivax stuff.

So I did a pubmed search. There's no BIALIK MH on pubmed, only a BIALIK M affiliated with an institution in Tel Aviv.

Her dissertation is available online. It contains a list of "Publications and Presentations". They're all presentations, except second authorships on a paper and a book chapter that were published before she began her PhD work in 2000 (i.e. something from her work as an undergrad).

In other words, Bialik's graduate work appears to have produced no peer-reviewed publications, yet she received a PhD from a major American research institution. This is irregular.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:48 PM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


TPS, you really articulate what a lot of my problem is with the breast/formula discussion.

I applaud the folks who are strongly advocating for greater normalizing of breastfeeding and fighting for more workplace support for nursing mothers. I just wish there were more advocates for a mixed approach. I was pretty well educated about baby stuff before having my kid, and I was convinced about "breast is best," so I moaned apologetically on my blog about having to wean for getting back to work because I knew I couldn't pump more than once a day. One of my friends told me I didn't have to fully wean if I didn't want to, that [barring supply issues, which I was lucky to avoid] I could give him formula for daycare and still nurse nights & weekends. Somehow in 9 months of reading and a month or so of newborn care I never got the message that it was possible to combine formula and breastfeeding. I think the vocal breastfeeding advocates are so virulently anti-formula that they are actually misinforming women who could really use some support for partial formula feeding.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:56 PM on May 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


You should try to breastfeed, it is best, it will make your child the healthiest, smartest, best baby they can be, but if you try (and you must try) and you fail, formula is great, wonderful, your baby will not be harmed by drinking it.

It's a rhetorical move which is common to our society, because while simultaneously we assert everyone is equal, and also recognize and applaud people for being mentally and physically exceptional. It's by no mean unique to breastfeeding, it can be applied to pretty much anything that may have some developmental consequence. I can recognize that going to the gym for an hour every other day might be optimal for my physical fitness, and simultaneously recognize that I am not a lesser human being for not doing that. Similarly I can recognize that my ability to only speak one language impairs my ability to perform at an extremely high intellectual level, and again, acknowledge that I am still a good person despite that.

That's because a human being is not valued by calculating the sum total of their mental and physical fitness. Not everyone can or will follow strategies for optimal health, thank god, as that would be a pretty boring society. That is perfectly fine and there is no logical contradiction there. While breastfeeding may be better for a child on average, for a particular child where breastfeeding is not possible, it's obviously better to feed with formula than to not feed at all.
posted by mek at 6:08 PM on May 13, 2012


Well, I guess I'll be the person to jump in and say that if you just don't want to breastfeed, your baby will be absolutely fine on formula, especially if you have good access to clean water, enough money for formula, and so on. You don't have to try and fail. You don't have to try at all. It's your body.

That said, it is usually easier to switch to formula after breastfeeding than the other way around (which is difficult to impossible) so I would suggest that mothers try to breastfeed if they think there's any way they might want to do it.

Personally, I wish we had started formula earlier; most days we wouldn't leave the house because I was so worried that he'd miss an opportunity to nurse. He hadn't gained weight for three months straight when I decided to supplement. When I saw how satisfied he was and how much more time he spent doing things besides eating I basically said "fuck it" and switched him to all formula. He is doing awesome! Man, washing bottles sucks, though.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:47 PM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I loved nursing and nursed my son for as long as necessary. I wouldn't have dreamt of putting a picture of my child at my breast out in public. I would be really furious if any picture that involved me was titled "Are you Mom enough?"

I'm Mom enough to have managed the sale of my business with a baby on my hip. Some of the time we were prepping the business for sale, the baby was nursing while I helped with the inventory. I'm Mom enough to have really wanted to stay home, but to have gone back to work because my family needed a 2nd income, esp. with health insurance. I'm Mom enough to have had to decide which day care is best, dealt with infant colic, and moved when the child was 5 months old. Then I was Mom enough to deal with divorce when my child was a pre-schooler, and Mom enough to support him, keep him clothed, fed, educated, housed and loved with not much help, from his Dad, or from this ridiculous woman- and child-hating culture we're in.

Screw you, Time. I refuse to ever consider buying your ever-thinning, dwindling excuse for a news magazine, or visit your website. I refuse to buy in to the stupid, false, insulting idea that parenting is a contest. Rich people get to do nicer stuff. People who can afford to choose this parenting option are lucky. People who can afford to choose whether to work or not are lucky. And, yes, I mean "work outside the home" because being able to work only 1 job is really sweet. I worked full time, then did cooking, baby-bathing, story-reading, singing, glass-of-water-fetching, and also laundry, shopping, and the rest when and as I could.

I refuse to be drawn into a contest that shouldn't exist. People should have adequate parental leave, health insurance, access to good child care and schools, period. We should be able to have both families and jobs. She wasn't the 1st person to say it, but Hilary Rodham Clinton is right: It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.

If you are a mother, and your child gets pretty good nutrition, education, health care, clothing, and love, then you shouldn't have to put up with some jerk asking if you're Mom enough.
posted by theora55 at 7:32 PM on May 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


And, vaccinate your children. It's the right thing to do, for your kids, and everybody else's..
posted by theora55 at 7:34 PM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


One more thing that I notice is everyone assuming that what Jamie Lynne Grumet is doing this for selfish reasons. That is a somewhat cynical assumption.

It is equally possible that she is doing this because she thinks are society has serious problems and she is in a position to help some people.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 7:39 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


> One more thing that I notice is everyone assuming that what Jamie Lynne Grumet is doing this for selfish reasons.

She has a website she is promoting. It is like QED she is doing this for "selfish" reasons. That our society and economy has descended to this -- that a woman with her talent has to whore herself out in this manner -- well it says much more about all of us than it does about her. She might be better described as a victim than as a villain. People all around us (barely) make a living doing spamming shit and SEO shit and whatnot and she is one of them. The proper response to this ain't anger but is sadness.

I really really doubt she is honestly feeling proud about all this brouhaha in spite of her public relations claims.
posted by bukvich at 9:10 PM on May 13, 2012


I had heard the term "attachment parenting", but I didn't know whar it entailed. Most of that stuff just seems like regular parenting if you have the resources to do it that way to me.

The picture is unsettling at first because the kid is standing on a chair, so for a brief moment all you see is how high his head is and he looks a lot older than he is. Whatevs. Honestly, I think its a little weird and creepy to keep giving your kid the tit once they have enough teeth, just like I would think it was weird and creepy to keep the kid constantly in diapers after it was toilet trained. Outside of the initial ick factor, I just have some problems with how infantile we are, and try to remain, as a culture. I'm not a huge fan of anything that perpetuates that trend. The cult of the young, of the child, of the immature and dependant, is not one that I'm interested in joining. Isn't a huge defining component of a child's makeup the fact that it wants to be like an adult, and isn't development largely a factor of how the child goes about doing so?

But, whatever. This is philosophical, not moral. And I have no kids, so what do I know. I know people that breastfed well through the toddler stage and their kids seem fine.

I know what I know... that vaccinations are motherfucking important and people who don't vaccinate their kids SERIOUSLY piss me off. Do you need to throw away lifetimes of suffering, lifetimes dedicated to medical research, and endanger not just your own child but an entire community because of one shittily-researched, inconclusive thing you read? Fuck!
posted by windykites at 9:25 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


that a woman with her talent has to whore herself out in this manner

GAAAAAAaaaaaahhhhh, is this really the only verb you could think of?
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:43 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Please, let's not be using the word "whore" quite so much. It just doesn't belong here.
posted by pajamazon at 10:26 PM on May 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm really tired of the Mommy Wars. I'm so over it.

That's great!

My oldest child was formula. Guess what? At the age of 3, he's been sick less often than many of his breastfed counterparts and those same breastfed counterparts have allergies and he doesn't.

...yeah, you seem to have some other definition of the phrase 'over it' I don't understand.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:32 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, that's interesting mr_roboto. I was already bummed that Bialik was a neuroscientist, with her anti-vax nuttiness, but the fact that she was apparently the the same *field* as me (neuroendocrinology) is just downright depressing.

And also weird, that I never ran into her at any of the meetings I ever went to (2 or 3 a year) or ever heard about any of her work despite the fact that I know some of her collaborators.
posted by gaspode at 10:35 AM on May 14, 2012


First rule of parenting: no matter how you do it, there are always plenty of people eager to tell you, in great detail and at lenght, how you're doing it wrong.

Ain't that the truth. I can't do much more than roll my eyes at all the kerfuffle.

I was (am?) a pretty crunchy Mom - breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, made my own baby food. Not out of any desire to show that I was Mommier Than Thou, but because we were pretty broke, and just needed to do our best with what we had. Being Hippie Granola Freaks was simply easier on our budget. A friend of mine at the time was the exact opposite, with all of the latest baby gear, fancy bottles, pediatrician approved toys, SUV-sized stroller...

We BOTH took it on the nose with every parenting choice we made. I was gross for breastfeeding and cloth diapering, she was selfish for not. I was setting my kids up for poor nutrition by making my own baby food, so was she for buying the jars.

The fact is, if you're wearing the Mom tag, you can't do a damned thing right, EVER, so your best course of action is to say "Fuck 'em", and just do what works for you and your family. The Monsters seem to have turned out fine. My friend's kids seem fine as well. They aten't ded, so we must have done SOMETHING right.
posted by MissySedai at 10:53 AM on May 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Mommier Than Thou

Enter Suckman
Sag But True
Mommier Than Thou
The Unbreastfeden
Wherever I May Nurse
Don't Stare at Me
Through the Nipple
Breastmilk it Matters
Of Latch and Bite
The Pump that Failed
My Friend of Leakery
The Bottle Within
posted by cashman at 11:10 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


People have an issue with this cover, and yet Grapes of Wrath is the great American novel.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:57 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some members of the human race are competitive. The neurotic upper middle class has obsessed over the trendy status symbols of child-creating-- they ought to print a cumulative score card. There is competitive pregnancy, with Pilates and Yoga and zero-weight gain. There is competitive delivery, with Bonus Points for vaginal delivery without epidural. After the kid is born, everything has a score attached to it. Organic cotton? Home-made baby food? World-music lullabies?

All of this comes with anxiety, because if you set up a value scale with some choices being "best," then other choices are sub-optimal.

If you are making choices because you care about other people's opinion of you, then you aren't engaged with your baby and parenting. I've seen some parents who are coldly indifferent to their child, it's all about Super-Mom and the Supportive Nurturing Father.

Attachment parenting is rejoicing in the spirit of the tiny human, wanting to be with them, trying to build a life as a family.
posted by ohshenandoah at 2:03 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


The parental arms race is one huge reason I don't want kids. I hate being judged and evaluated, especially when it's no one's damn business as long as the kid is happy.

And I'm tired of hearing about breastfeeding shame too. Formula is obviously fine, otherwise we could tell adults who were breastfed from adults who were formula-fed, wouldn't we? So it's pointless, just feed the kid.
posted by agregoli at 2:44 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, the thing about the parental arms race is that in order to be a part of it you have to choose to engage. Yeah, there is a lot of pressure to do so, but I've found that I'm so consumed by parenting itself that I honestly, truly, do not care what other people think. I've mastered the shrug 'n smile as a response to someone telling me what I should be doing.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2012


Daily Alice, that's fair. I will revise: If you are raising a little asshole, you are most likely a shitty parent.

I shouldn't toss around words like "sociopath". But there are kids who are shits because their parents are shits, and those parents, whatever their proclaimed parenting philosophy might be, are doing no one any favors.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 10:35 AM on May 15, 2012


So, I bought the Mayim Bialik book because I had a small baby at the time it came out, I'm doing a lot of AP-ish stuff because I was raised by hippie psychologist types, and I thought it really might be, as advertised, a memoir. She seemed amusing when I saw her on What Not to Wear, and since I was spending a lot of time sitting around and holding a baby, why not read her book?

I am here to report that it is terrible: smug, thinly argued, not at all funny, condescending. If she'd merely wanted to tell her own story, fine, whatever, but it was really preachy -- like an AP caricature.

I have made no secret around here my discomfort with glorification of unmedicated birth and the pressure it puts on individual women to decide whether the particular medical interventions they received were "necessary" (and the pressure to resist pain relief and medical advice in pursuit of a gold-standard birth), but I have zero problems with people who loved their natural homebirth. Cool, you had a good time. I'm down as long as it doesn't turn into "I didn't need a C, so I don't see why anyone would."

With that caveat, I still was stunned by the book. Bialik definitely abandons science. I think the page where I started having significant concerns about her scientific bona fides was here. (Google Books link. Start with the paragraph about women being pressured toward C-sections.)

We were "designed" to give birth by whom? This innate knowledge in our DNA ... what? What does that mean? Is she saying that in the premedical era neither women nor babies died in childbirth? She really has a PhD? In any science? The whole book is like that, obsessed with "evolution" preparing us for parenthood. And despite her area of research being "attachment hormones," she describes pitocin as a synthetic hormone that stimulates contractions without mentioning that it is molecularly identical to oxytocin, which she waxes about fondly. What?

I think mr_roboto is on to something questioning Bialik's credentials.

I like the attachment parenting thing to a point, because I dislike the authoritarian parenting style (Babywise, etc) where babies are savages who need to be molded into proper family members via extinction CIO, smacking toddlers with rubber spatulas, and denying hungry newborns food because it's not the parent-directed feeding time. But the AP stuff that insists that parenting is innate is creepy too. (Both Sears amd Meredith Small, who wrote the AP-beloved "Our Babies, Ourselves" look to "native" tribes "untouched by civilization" for cues about how long to breastfeed and co-sleep and insist that babies from X tribe never cry -- it's very troubling to posit that nonwhite "natives" aren't shaped by culture and have the One True Natural Human Way, as was hashed over upthread.) As for the "parenting is innate" business that pervades Sears, Bialik, and to some extent Small -- I assume these folks have had blessedly little contact with abuse and neglect. I'm doing most of the AP stuff, but a lot of the philosophy of it wigs me out something fierce.

As for the cover model: I would bet real money that Time found her via her blog; she didn't contact them begging to promote it. How would you find a bunch of parents who would be happy to talk about attachment parenting? I would look for ones who were already talking about it in public. Attacking the cover mom for having the audacity to bring her pet issue to a wider audience is sniping without merit (and feels to me like misogyny).
posted by purpleclover at 1:32 PM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


The whole book is like that, obsessed with "evolution" preparing us for parenthood.

That just reminded me of something I was thinking about. If you read enough anthropology books about mothering in other cultures or other primates, it's pretty hard to avoid infanticide and infant rejection. This happens even in primates in the wild. As far as I know, you can't get more "natural" than that. And in zoos, primates that don't have maternal role models will often unintentionally neglect their babies, sometimes killing them in the process. So much for "designed" to do things.
posted by melissam at 10:05 PM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fuck you, TIME Magazine, for your thinly veiled trolling attempt. I think every mother, attachment parent or not, should be incredibly offended at such a disgusting headline. Are You Mom Enough? You must be kidding me. I could go through through a list of exactly why I'm Mom enough (or Mum, I am an Australian after all) but that's exactly what they want, every mother at each other's throats, attempting to justify their own choices when in actual fact, we're all just doing our best. And it doesn't matter what kind of mum you are, according to the media and the world at large, YOU'RE NEVER GOOD ENOUGH. YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Mothers out there, don't rise to the bait. I'd love to see us call a truce to the Mummy Wars and instead of one upping each other, give the struggling mother you know a hug (and let's face it at some point we're ALL the struggling mother) and tell her she's doing a great job. And you are. Happy Mothers Day.
posted by Jubey at 12:29 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


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