OK, I tried to avoid it, but I can’t, so let’s just talk about the cover of Time Magazine and get it over with. The photo below disturbs me. Not because I don’t believe in breast-feeding, I do, but only for as long as is beneficial to both mother and child. Both the attachment parenting movement
(about which the Time article is written) and the La Leche League La Leche League
are advocates of breastfeeding “as long as the mother and child wish to breastfeed.”
There is undisputed evidence that there are numerous physical health benefits
to breastfeeding, for both the baby and the mother. Babies are more resistant to infection and disease, due to the antibodies passed on to the infant from the mother’s immune system in breast milk. Even as the child gets older, benefits continue: children who were breast fed are less likely to develop juvenile diabetes, MS, heart disease, allergies, and cancer before the age of 15. The mother is also protected: women who breastfeed have lower instances of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.
However, what disturbs me about this cover is the long reaching effects on the boy in the photo. He will always be known as that kid on the cover of Time at his mother’s teat. I cannot deny the physical benefits of breast milk, but at what age does the mother need to make the decision, for that child, that it has become inappropriate to breastfeed? Certainly, if this child pictured were 10 years old, social services would get involved and recommend therapy for both mother and child. So at what age do we draw the line between beneficial and disturbing?
Each family will have it’s own ideas about when that time is right, much like when a family decides that showering with their kids is no longer appropriate. But Mother Nature gives us some clues in the wild: in all other species with teeth, when the young actually cut their teeth, they are weaned. As far as Mother Nature is concerned, teeth mean the ability to chew your own food, and when teeth show up, it’s the signal to mom it’s time to kick the kids off the milk wagon.
So why do some mothers over ride that, and continue to breast feed long past the time when their child can literally walk up to them and ask for the boob? I hope to hear from DS moms who have made this decision. I hope I can be persuaded that I shouldn’t be disturbed by the Time cover.
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