By now we've all seen the now famous Time Magazine cover that sent shock waves rippling through the media.
A mom stands as her pre-school aged son perches on a chair and practically hangs from her naked breast. The words "Are You Mom Enough?"scream in bright red letters beside the breastfeeding pair. The actual article focused on attachment parenting, particularly extended breastfeeding.
Attachment parenting, which was coined by Dr. William Sears, author of “The Baby Book”, encourages breast-feeding (sometimes extended to toddlerhood), co-sleeping and “baby wearing." Parents who practice this parenting style believe that children should be comforted when they cry and don't enforce any "cry it out" methods.
Many people were offended by seeing a preschool aged child nurse. Some breastfeeding advocates were offended by the brash stance the mother held. Angry moms took to the Internet and flooded Twitter and Facebook to debate if the article was awesome or terrible. It seemed that everybody had an opinion and most people were not happy with the way that Attachment Style Parents were portrayed.
Obviously, the folks over at Time Magazine hit a nerve. I have to be honest, when I saw the cover I felt a little--meh--for lack of a better word. The sight of an older child breastfeeding really doesn't shock me.
Perhaps it's because one of my dearest friends nursed her daughter until she was 3 years old. It was normal to see her little girl scamper over and request to "nursie." I often saw her stretched out on my friend's lap, her little legs dangling as she nursed. Of course, I never once saw them breastfeed while standing and staring at me militantly like the woman on the magazine cover.
The photograph was so calculated that my second thought was, there's no way that they ever nurse like that in reality. Where was the tenderness that passes between mother and child when they nurse? Why weren't they touching? They took something natural and made it look weird. It was just so glaringly obvious that the cover was created to shock the world and we were being manipulated.
My suspicions were confirmed when I watched a Toady Show clip that featured the mom who was in the photo, Jamie Lynne Grumet, and her son Arum talking about the controversial magazine cover with Savannah Guthrie.
"This isn't how we breastfeed at home," she says. "It's more of a cradling, nurturing situation. I do understand why Time chose this picture because…it did create such a media craze to get the dialogue talking.”
They certainly did get people talking. Let me just say that I am an attachment style parent, but I am not militant about it. I didn't base my decision on any advice taken from Dr. Sears but because my son needed me to parent him that way.
I wore him in a sling as a baby because he cried hysterically if I put him down. We co-slept with him because he slept better in bed with us and sleep is precious when you have a cranky infant. We breastfed until he weaned himself at a young 8 months old but I would have gone longer if he wanted to.
The funny thing is that my second son doesn't want me to use the attachment method with him at all. I tried to "wear" him as an infant but he preferred to play on a blanket on the floor. I attempted to co-sleep with him but he wanted space and loved sleeping alone in his crib. We did nurse for a very special 18 months and then one day he was done and he never latched on again.
I parent each of my children differently and according to their needs. The truth is, that I think it's unfortunate that Time Magazine played on the guilt that some moms feel about possibly not "being mom enough" for their kids. I am the mom my children need me to be, not who I want to be or feel pressured to be by society.
As long as they are happy and adjusted, I could care less what "The Baby Book" or Time Magazine has to say on the subject.
What do you think of the magazine cover? Did it make you question if you are "mom enough" to your children? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.