If you’ve turned on your computer today, and done much browsing at all, then chances are you’ve stumbled upon Time Magazine’s provocative new cover, showing a woman breastfeeding her nearly 4-year-old son.
In it’s May 21 issues, Time Magazine delves head first into a two-decade-long parenting debate that has boiled over in the past couple months. Journalist Kate Pickert researches the trend in attachment parenting, a set of techniques made popular by Dr. William Sears in “The Baby Book”.
In the article, Pickert explores who Sears is and why controversy surrounds his theories — specifically baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping — but it’s TIME’s photographs of real mothers breastfeeding their toddlers that has everyone talking. (Scroll down for reactions on Twitter.)
The cover shows Jamie Lynne Grumet, a slim blonde 26-year-old California mom, breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. TIME photographer Martin Schoeller also shot three other families on the same day.
“When you think of breast-feeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids,” Schoeller said in an interview on TIME.com. “I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation.”
One notable mom who follows Dr. Sears’s advice does not make an appearance in Pickert’s piece. Actress Mayim Bialik, who recently published her memoir “Beyond The Sling”, is a vocal advocate for attachment parenting and recently came under fire for writing about breastfeeding her own 3-year-old. While Bialik ignited big discussions about how much is too much when it comes to motherhood, TIME’s story is elevating the conversation to a national debate.
The usual questions that come up when mothers are called out for breastfeeding in public (which happens often) include: Is breastfeeding indecent? Or natural? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all mothers breastfeed for a full year — or longer if the mother so chooses, so how can we shame women who are just following the advice of the country’s foremost medical establishment?
There is no doubt that the TIME cover strikes the public as shocking. But, as Pickert points out, the women featured are at one extreme end of this always-controversial discussion. On the other end, she says, are mothers who “endorse the idea of maternal closeness (who doesn’t?) but think Sears is out of his mind.” And the writer goes on:
“A third category includes mothers caught in the middle. These parents try to achieve Sears’ ideal of nursing, baby wearing and co-sleeping but fall short for some reason and find themselves immobilized by their seeming parental inadequacy. They suffer from what two New York City parenting consultants call “posttraumatic Sears disorder.”
Her point, in writing the in-depth profile of Sears, seems to be that there are many parents out there left wondering what’s right, what’s wrong — and most important — what makes sense for their families.
What are your opinions on the matter? What do you think of Time’s cover? Or more specifically – where do you stand on breastfeeding?