5.11.2012

"Extreme Parenting" Is Fucking Bullshit

There is so much wrong with the cover photo of this week's Time Magazine depicting a three year old boy breastfeeding, I don't even know where to start:


There is nothing at all about this that isn't fucked up.

That child is three years old. Three years old is too old to breastfeed, period. I don't care what book you read, who you talk to, the crowd you run with; if your child is old enough to form the words "Mom, put your tit in my mouth" you shouldn't.

The article that the cover photo teases covers "Attachment Parenting" -- a movement which encourages parents to answer a child's every cry, wear it like a backpack and breastfeed it long after it's absolutely necessary. And it's disturbing in so many ways. The point of parenting isn't to cater to a child's every need -- you're not its servant, you're a PARENT. Your job isn't to teach a child that crying yields service. It's to teach the kid how to survive in a world that's wrought with equal parts opportunity and danger.

A kid cannot learn to find its own way and take advantage of opportunities presented it when it's used to being catered to. And it certainly can't learn how to take its lumps and deal with the harsh realities of growing up when you protect it from every little discomfort that could possibly befall it. It's borderline abuse. If you're an adult cognizant enough to know how hard the world can be on your child that you protect it from every little bump, scrape and emotional boo-boo, you're aware enough to know that one day, when you release it into the world, it's skin is going to be so thin that it won't be able to survive.

I believe in nurture. I'm a believer that we humans require nurturing well into adulthood and beyond. I'm a 35 year old man, and I still want it. The comfort of knowing that I have a confidant and protector at home in my wife gives me the drive and ability to head out and take risks. I know that when I succeed, I can come to her with the complications of a new opportunity and get help sorting it out, and when I fail, I have someone who can give me perspective and help me realize it's just a temporary setback on a road that extends far further than just right now.

But I certainly don't lift my head after crying on her shoulder and say "Ok, cool, I'm hungry, whip out your tit so I can eat." And if she's not present to coddle me, I don't shut down. I man up and get shit done.

And then, there's the question if there's even the necessary nutrition in mother's milk for a child of three years old. By that age, bones are taking shape and the body is rapidly changing. A child is usually moving off of strained and whipped vegetables onto solid foods. I'm not sure that milk is going to be enough to sustain the child.

Now, if that kid is eating solid food while also breastfeeding, this whole situation turns really creepy, really fast. There's an argument (however weak) that can be made that this woman thinks that her milk is the most nutritious food for her child, so she breastfeeds it. But the moment it begins eating solid foods and she still lets it lamprey off her tata, it's no longer about the kid's nutrition, it's a psychosis.

Moving on, that mother is a sensationalist. She's using her child to gain attention for herself. Sure, it's under the guise of "letting people see it so that society can get used to" her cause. And never mind the cause is complete bullshit -- it's using your child for your own ends. That is a kid. It has to do what you say. To put it on the cover of a national magazine in a compromising position may be borderline abusive, but is absolutely selfish.

And the look on her face... It's not quite enough to make me  reconsider my strict policy on hitting women. I have a hard time justifying that in any situation. But I'd certainly cheer if another, far more responsible mother slapped the smug off that face:

Ugh. 

*Updated 11:36 AM *

My friend Mark found this article which discusses this woman's blog, IAmNotTheBabySitter.com. In this blog, she shows pictures of her 10 year old adopted son breastfeeding from her, as well as photos of her children tasting her edible panties.

From the blog:



From Her Blog – IAmNotTheBabySitter.com – Something to brighten your day! The boys went to look for confiscated M&Ms and found edible underwear instead! They figured out it was edible in about 30 seconds on their own. However, I don’t think they were fans of the flavor


...Yeah. So there's that.

Now, for the photo itself:

The photo is salacious. It's a posed photo with an older child suckling its mother's teat. This is not the same as a baby breastfeeding -- this child is old enough to know to look at the camera and the mother is very obviously doing the photoshoot to prove a point. I won't go so far as to say that Time Magazine is irresponsible for publishing the photo. The image accurately depicts the topic of the story and definitely solicits reaction. But I will say it's desperate.

Imagining the photoshoot itself, I can only think of a photographer instructing the child to suck the tit, then look at the camera... Now lift your chin... Turn this way a little... Okay, good *snap* Now, look up... Good *snap* Now, let's bend your knee a little, mom, so your tit is a little lower -- Perfect!!! *snap*

It's just disturbing to think that someone found the 'art' in an overbearing snot of a mother letting her walking, talking, thinking child suck on her boob for a cover photo.

If there's one good thing that could come from this whole situation, it's the fact that this movement might very well be demonized (as it should be). It's Poor Parenting, The Movement. It's selfish and irresponsible to protect a child from every danger of life all the time, because at some point (if your lives follow the natural pattern of things) you're going to die, and that kid is going to be on its own.

It's not only your job to prepare it for that moment, its your job to make it self sustaining long before it happens.