Posted by: Genny Colby | May 12, 2012

You ARE Mom Enough

So unless you have been avoiding all social media, or living under a rock, it is pretty safe to assume you have at least seen the latest cover of TIME Magazine.  But if not…here you go.

The companion article to this picture (and series of pictures inside the magazine) discuss Attachment Parenting and extended breastfeeding.   And because I can…I am writing my two cents.

If you have never heard the term “Attachment Parenting” there are some nice basic sites that can give you an overview of this style of parenting.  Go ahead and google the term, check them out to your hearts content.  I will wait….okay, think you got it?

I don’t have anything against attachment parenting.  In fact, I like a lot of the ideas that is promotes.  In many ways it is how we parent our daughter.  And if following this type of philosophy works for you and your family, great!  We are  more of a buffet-style kind of parents.  We take bits and pieces of what we like, what feels right, what seems to work for our family and make our own style of parenting, and leave the rest.  But that is what works for our family.  Maybe one day I will write more about what kind of parenting we do for you all to read and critique.

I know that we as parents are all passionate about our children, we want to do the best we can by them.  But raising kids is such an adventure, and each parent comes into it with different ideas, experiences, and expectations.  It is not a “one size fits all” kind of thing.  If you find something that works for you and your family, that is wonderful.  But short of abuse or neglect, there is not one right way to raise our kids.  And while I am open to hearing about others experiences, I may not agree with you, or I may have other tricks that work for me.  That has to be okay.  We each have to be free to do what works for our families.  We as mothers/fathers/parents/friends should be SUPPORTIVE of one another, not demeaning or insulting if someone makes a choice you don’t agree with when raising their kids.

For example, attachment parenting strongly recommends a family bed.  I know many families who have gone that route and it works for them.  It does not work for my family.  From the first day home from the hospital our daughter has slept in her own bed, in her own room.  That is not to say she has not spent the night in bed with us ever, she has, it is just that this is the exception, not the rule.  I don’t feel she has been deprived of any love or affection.  She knows she is loved, cared for, and if she needs us, we are just down the hall.  At 3+ I still have the monitor on in our room so I can hear if she wakes at night and needs something.  I still go in and comfort her when she needs it, sit with her if she needs that, or give her a few extra middle of the night snuggles. But she sleeps in her own room, in her own bed.  This works for us, for our family.

Attachment Parenting also promotes/encourages breastfeeding, even extended breastfeeding.  I am a big supporter of those who elect to breastfeed.  I did, for 15 months, with my daughter until she self weaned.  It is the plan to breastfeed our second child for a least a year and then see how it goes from there.  There are many reasons for breastfeeding, but mostly it works for us.  It feels right to us, and it fits our family.

There are many who support the idea of extended breastfeeding, well into the toddler years.  Again, if that works for you, your child, and your family, I say go for it!  Who am I to critique or judge you.  This is personal choice.  I also know that there are many who elect not to breastfeed for any number of reasons and again I say, go for it!  Do what works for your family.  Breastfeeding or not is such a personal choice.  There are many reasons that a parents may elect not to, but in the end, it is their choice.

What I don’t like about this picture, the comments on attachment parenting, and many of the discussions, is that it is putting down those that do not breastfeed, or elect to stop breastfeeding at a certain point.  It turns moms against moms.  It implies that if you don’t breastfeed your child you are failing as parent, as a mom, as a woman.  Instead of opening the lines of dialog about breastfeeding, it creates a dividing line.

I also do not like the shock value of this photo.  To me, breastfeeding is a special time between me and my child.  It gives us both time to relax together and enjoy this quiet time.  I am not afraid to breastfeed in public, I have and will with this second one too I am sure.  I often elect to cover up, because that makes ME more comfortable, but that is my choice.  I have no problem when a mother does not cover up, that is her choice.

I support a woman’s right to breastfeed in public, covered or not.  But I do think she needs to take into consideration that there are those around her who may not be as comfortable with this natural part of motherhood and at least try to be discreet.  We don’t need to flaunt what is going on, it is not some big national secret, and it is pretty obvious when a mother is nursing.  But why do we need to make a show of it?  Why does it need to be a statement?  Why put it out there in pictures like this one that are meant only to shock the audience?   I guess my feeling is that if we want to make it less stigmatized, mothers should just nurse their children, without all the drama and showmanship.  This will, in my opinion, help to normalize the event in public.

So while I think that this article was designed to bring the issue to light, and help to educate on Attachment Parenting and extended breastfeeding, it seems to be dividing mothers, instead of opening lines of dialog.  Mothers feel attacked, criticized, and put down for their choices.  It divides the community rather than bringing us together to support one another.

The hubby would also like to remind me that so many of these articles are written for and by women.  It is important to remember that in most cases the spouse needs to be part of these decisions.  Raising kids is a joint effort between BOTH parents, so both need to be comfortable with the choices made about how to raise them.  And like everything else in a relationship, compromise is sure to be the key.

So, are you mom enough?  Of course you are!  And so am I.  But being a parent does not look the same for every family. Instead of judging each other, let’s work together to support one another, even if the choices are different than the ones you would make for your family.

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