Next week’s issue of TIME is causing quiet a stir…the cover features a woman breastfeeding her son.
Now, perhaps that in and of itself shouldn’t be too brow-raising…I personally believe we’re far too squeamish when it comes to such a natural, normal, important thing such as a mother nourishing and bonding with her child, HOWEVER…the child pictured on the cover with his mom is three years old.
The article discusses “Attachment Parenting”, a method highly endorsed by Dr. Bill Sears, which suggests creating strong bonds between mother (and father) and child, de-bunking the spoiling myth that babies can get too much attention during their first year. Sears talks about the dangers of the cry-it-out method, Baby Wise theories, and other strict schedule-oriented routines that purposefully separate mother and child in order to promote independence. Sears believes-and has research to prove-that these theories only work to create feelings of insecurity, making the child more dependent and needy than an attachment-raised child.
“A child must go through a stage of healthy dependence in order to later become securely independent,” Sears states.
Attachment parenting encourages bonding through co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and prolonged breastfeeding.
When my firstborn was around 6 months old, I felt like I was at my wit’s end. He still wasn’t sleeping through the night, he sometimes nursed every 45 minutes, and wanted to be held constantly. I was given many books by well-intentioned family members and friends encouraging me to “put him on a schedule” for his own good. But despite my efforts, and the pit I had in my stomach every time I tried letting him cry, or prolonging his feedings because it wasn’t the right “time”, those methods didn’t take. And they didn’t feel right.
Then I discovered “The Sleep Book” by Dr. Sears. I remember feeling totally at peace after reading it. I felt like I wasn’t a bad parent-in fact, I felt empowered knowing my gut instincts were right about how I felt I was to raise my child. I agreed with much of what he said, and we co-slept with both our kids for several months when they were newly born. It was easier to breast-feed, easier to sleep, and a much easier way to cope with those early morning feedings.
I know Sears is considered somewhat of a controversial doc. Some of his philosophies are not popular or mainstream.
As this TIME article proves, prolonged breastfeeding falls under the “extreme” category, creating a huge rift between people who see the cover and celebrate, and people who see it and are repulsed.
I’m not sure how I feel. I nursed both my boys for 15 months. Around that time, I felt physically and mentally done, and decided to wean. But I know women who nurse until two or later, and they have perfectly happy, healthy, well-developed children. I don’t think I could go past the 15-18 month mark, personally, but do I think it’s “wrong” to breastfeed toddlers longer than that? No. I’d be uncomfortable nursing my three-year-old who is reading and writing and potty-trained and talking a million miles a minute, but I don’t think it should be controversial. It’s a personal decision.
If you want to learn more about Dr. Sears or Attachment Parenting (AP) go to askdrsears.com and click on “Attachment Parenting.” Check out next week’s edition of TIME.
And mommies…what do YOU think about AP-or this issue of TIME in general? How and when did you make the decision to stop nursing?