Mom enough? This Mom has had enough.

12th May, 2012 - Posted by admin - 4 Comments

20120514-204954.jpg

This is the cover of Time magazine. I have three issues with it:

1.The article, it seems, is not about the model, or breastfeeding, or natural term breastfeeding. It is about William Sears, who coined the idea of “attachment parenting” (well he made the label mainstream, anyway) but apparently isn’t eye catching enough to put on the cover.
2. The article isn’t about making Mum’s feel that they aren’t doing a good enough job. It is about attachment parenting. It isn’t about pitting mothers against each other.
3. I have never seen anyone regularly feed their toddler while he or she is standing on a chair. It looks slightly odd to me, and makes a 3 year old look much older than he is. Thus making it “look” more controversial rather than framing it as a nurturing, nourishing, comforting element of a close relationship

And this is all before I even start on the idea of attachment parenting as something that pushes people to “extremes” (surely any “handbook” of parenting feels extreme to those who do not subscribe to it? Crying it out feels pretty extreme to someone who cuddles their child to sleep each night). Sears himself is concerned by the emphasis the article puts on the “extreme” nature of Attachment Parenting and how it is assumed that mothers who work outside the home cannot “do it”. Furthermore, Dr Sears and Jamie, the mother in the photo would not have picked the photo themselves. Sears is concerned by the emphasis the article puts on the “extreme” nature of Attachment Parenting and how it is assumed that mothers who work outside the home cannot “do it”.

So why the cover? Well, obviously it sells copy.

Also, though, perhaps they had no choice? Maybe this is the only way to portray natural term breastfeeding? You may laugh but Time claims this:
“Using religious images of the Madonna and Child as reference, Schoeller captured each mother breast-feeding her child or children. “When you think of breast-feeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids,” Schoeller says. “I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation.”
It’s impossible to cradle a toddler? Wow. No-one told me. No wonder all mothers who feed their offspring into toddler-hood have to invest in a little stool.
But what about the other images of breastfeeding toddler they took?

And does the image they chose really sell copy? Well, it certainly caused a stir. But I have read several comments online along the lines of “I couldn’t force myself to read / I am not interested in reading the actual article” while making big commentary about how disgusting the picture is. So for some all the picture has done is to reinforce their preconceived stereotypes – if they had been interested instead of outraged by the picture on the cover, perhaps they would have read further? But is there a picture of a breastfeeding toddler/young child in existence that wouldn’t outrage those who are looking to be disgusted by such a concept?

And frankly, I am so very bored of reading commentary about how breastfeeding toddlers disgusts people, how it is “child abuse” or “pornography”. I do not think that this cover has helped the position of mothers who breastfeed their toddlers, and I do not think it has helped the cause of those who follow or advocate attachment parenting.

That said, at least it shows that natural term breastfeeding is not something only crunchy spin-your-own-lentils-hippy-types do. So that is something.

4 Comments

Nicky Shepard

May 14th, 2012 at 10:11 pm    


Thank you for this! I definitely didn’t like all the hub-bub about this, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why. You have summed it up really well. (And you made me laugh too!)

Justine Fieth

May 14th, 2012 at 10:38 pm    


Well said – I’ve read enough about it all now.. including the Daily Mail comments (why oh why won’t I learn!) but this is a great summary, thanks!

Sian

May 17th, 2012 at 10:10 pm    


Great post,

‘I do not think that this cover has helped the position of mothers who breastfeed their toddlers, and I do not think it has helped the cause of those who follow or advocate attachment parenting.

That said, at least it shows that natural term breastfeeding is not something only crunchy spin-your-own-lentils-hippy-types do. So that is something.’

I totally agree with this. Sadly I felt a little in the way of #2 when seeing this. The picture and headline have done nothing positive for AP in my view. It left me feeling inferior for not having reached the ‘extended’ status (over 1 yr?) when breastfeeding my first, my own issues I realise. Sadly I think Attachment Parenting often comes across badly, and often by AP parents rather than Sears. His website states ‘AP is an approach, rather than a strict set of rules. It’s actually the style that many parents use instinctively. Parenting is too individual and baby too complex for there to be only one way. The important point is to get connected to your baby, and the baby B’s of attachment parenting help. Once connected, stick with what is working and modify what is not. You will ultimately develop your own parenting style that helps parent and baby find a way to fit – the little word that so economically describes the relationship between parent and baby.’ and yet many AP mothers seem to be very militant in their approach which can be very off putting.

Sorry, that was a bit long wasn’t it!

admin

May 19th, 2012 at 9:57 pm    


Thanks for your comment Sian. I totally agree.
It is time, I think, for a post on what Attachment Parenting is (“tools, not rules”) and isn’t (extreme, helicopter style parenting) and where it draws its theories from (or purports to).
We don’t really like the term, to be honest, but it best labels what it is we use as our “style” of parenting. But not everything works for everyone, and that is OK (and specifically, OK in an attachment parenting approach).
And anyway, as I have written before, labels are for tins, not people…
Thanks for reading!

Leave a reply

Name *

Mail *

Website