A dad’s take on breastfeeding toddlers
Son, this world is rough and if a man’s going to make it he’s gotta be tough.
A Boy Named Sue, Johnny Cash
So Kate and I have been talking about the new Times article about attachment parenting and moms who breastfeed until their kid is practically pre-school age.
First of all, I recognize that this kind of manufactured controversy is a perfect way to sell magazines right before Mother’s Day. You take some pretty mothers who do extreme stuff like breastfeeding toddlers or letting their kids sleep in their beds every night and put them on a pedestal as “ideal moms.” Then you beat regular mommys over the head about how the fact that they don’t do the same means deep down inside they don’t love their children enough and are full of fail.
I think I have a special appreciation on this topic, as my Mom was a very protective middle class teacher, whereas my Dad had grown up in hardscrabble rural Kentucky and fought in Vietnam. I certainly learned a great deal from both of them, but I’m not sure that if my Mom had been the sole inspiration in my life that I would have learned to take as many chances or face certain situations with quiet determination. The lessons my Mom taught me helped me graduate from college with honors, marry a wonderful woman and take good care of my little boy. The lessons my Dad taught me helped me get through six years in the army, three years working the police beat as a reporter, and through a really tough time of unemployment and severe depression. That’s because my Dad taught me that as a man it’s not all about you, that your needs don’t always come first, and that like Johnny Cash said sometimes you gotta be tough. That’s why he would always push me to stop acting like a little kid and start practicing to be an adult, whether that meant doing your best at school or working hard at chores or trying your hardest at sports even when you’re not a natural athlete.
Now, I don’t want to give wrong impressions here – my Mom was certainly a tough lady and my Dad wasn’t mean or abusive. Nor am I going to pick on Jaime Lynne Grumet – the mom in the story. She seems like a really nice lady and nowhere near as crazy as the Time cover insinuates.
But I can’t help but to think back at how my Mom at times was crazy protective of me or how she indulge me when I was being a little brat. If extreme attachment parenting was in vogue back in the late ’70s, I can’t say for certain that my Mom wouldn’t have been there with bells on. And overall I don’t think that would have been good for my development.
Of course, it could also be that I’m just creeped out by a pre-schooler still having access to mommy’s boob.