Feeding Babies, Starving Children
When it comes to parenting, no one mother or father will agree on everything. When there are so many decisions, products, and consequences, it is not hard to believe. Within 24 hours of a baby’s birth, a vital decision must be made; to breastfeed, or not to breastfeed? The numerous benefits, both physical and mental, help about 70% of mothers make their decision to feed their baby naturally. But if moms are still nodding their heads yes to this decision five years down the road, it is not farfetched to say that a child will develop psychological issues.
A May 2012 TIME magazine cover depicting mom Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her son, who was just one month shy of four years old, sparked much controversy not only in the parenting world, but to people everywhere. Although mothers like Jamie gush about the bond that is made and the feelings of confidence and comfort that accompany breastfeeding, they do not see past their own attachment parenting. Grumet’s son, along with other children being breastfed beyond the accepted age, will not be able to evolve on their own.
Toddlers and preschool-aged children have to develop their own independence. Separation plays a key role in the development of a child, but if there no support from a parent, the path to a child’s independence is skewed. Developmental psychologists argue that attachment parenting, specifically extreme breastfeeding, suppresses a child’s ability to become their own person. While a parent can be close by, it is no longer necessary for attachment at all times. In addition to personal development, social development is at its peak during the toddler and elementary years. Kids learn to socialize, ask questions, and initiate conversation. They must learn to cope without mom or dad, and become acclimated with their environment. This is a good time for parents to realize that their child is growing, and is capable of many things on their own. They can communicate their needs and can eat solid foods, and that is when a mother should realize that if she hasn’t already, it is time to wean.
If extreme breastfeeding in the case of three and four year old children sounds bad, think of the children ages five, six, and yes, even seven years old being breastfed. Self-esteem is being considered at much younger ages in today’s society. Kids are crueler and more desensitized to the things that once hurt the feelings of others. Nothing gives schoolmates license to tease more than a child that is still breastfed. This kind of attachment parenting is detrimental to a child of this age. Children who are breastfed into their school years will have a harder time making friends and thinking for themselves, thanks to a mother who never let them learn to self-soothe. There is a massive dose of confusion that accompanies the other psychological effects as well. Dr. Ellie Cannon published an article speaking out against Grumet’s public display and made excellent points refuting the mother’s choices. Cannon states that children who are breastfed well past infancy will not understand limits and appropriate talk and use of bodies. Multiple men and women have commented and written their own articles as well, many saying that they have witnessed a child demand in perfect speech that they want to be breastfed. Some have even recalled watching a child go up to their mother and feed without permission. If a child can go up to their mother and open her shirt to breastfeed, where will they place boundaries on the bodies of others? They have no true idea of what is acceptable.
When extreme breastfeeding goes this far in a child’s life, there are questions to ask. Is this happening for the child or for the parent? It becomes a case of having poor boundaries and an unclear idea of lifting your child up to their potential. If a mother wants to be involved and feel like she has a purpose in the life of her children, there are many other ways to fulfill that need. There is no clear answer to whether the act is narcissistic or nurturing. Weaning a child off of breastmilk is done for the same reason as potty training or teaching them to talk. They must learn to be independent beings. As they are breastfed beyond the normal age range, they are being deprived of a normal childhood.
NEW SOURCE* Ablow, Dr. Keith. “Time magazine cover — forget the breast, what about the boy?”. Foxnews.com. 11 May 2012. Web. 2 November 2015. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/11/time-magazine-cover-forget-breast-what-about-boy.html
NEW SOURCE* O’Brien, Susie. “Who does extreme breastfeeding really help: a child or their mum?”. The Daily Telegraph”. 25 May 2015. Web. 2 November 2015. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/who-does-extreme-breastfeeding-really-help-a-child-or-their-mum/story-fnpug1jf-1227368766830
NEW SOURCE* Cannon, Dr. Ellie. “That’s just selfish and wrong: How the image of a mother breastfeed a toddler reignited a health controversy”. The Daily Mail. 19 May 2012. Web. 3 November 2015. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2146870/Breastfeed-year-old-Thats-just-selfish-wrong.html
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Breastfeeding Report Card, United States/2013. July 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2013breastfeedingreportcard.pdf