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Time Magazine’s Breastfeeding Cover: Good for Print Image, Bad for Attachment Parenting?

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How about that Time magazine cover? In case you haven’t heard about it yet (I’m impressed if that’s the case), it’s the one that says “Are You Mom Enough?” alongside a three-year-old boy standing on a chair, staring right at the camera, while latched on to his mother’s breast (click here to read the story on Time.com). It has caused quite the stir. Everyone from celebrities to newscasters have commented on the image since its release last Thursday, lauding it as inspiring and a “stroke of genius” or criticizing both the magazine and cover mom as exploitative and inappropriate.

Unfortunately, I think the cover did more for print media’s image than extended breastfeeding’s. I’m a proponent of attachment parenting, but I agree with the Daily News’ Bill Hammond that breastfeeding your three-year-old is one thing, and putting a picture of him doing it on the cover of a national magazine is another. The photo is a provocative, in-your-face depiction of something that is usually done privately or more discretely. It made Time the talk of the town… and gave those already uncomfortable with extended breastfeeding even more reason to be so. Not to mention the fact that the entire premise of the article — about the extremes of attachment parenting — just fuels the whole ultra-competitive mom vibe, which isn’t good for anyone.

When she was expecting her first child a pretty “mainstream” friend of mine pointed out how so many proponents of alternative parenting practices actually turn off potential converts with their fervor. For someone like her, who was on the fence about cloth diapering and wasn’t sure she’d nurse past six to 12 months, the “right way or the highway” attitude of most “attachment parents” was discouraging. Fanaticism is a turn off, regardless its cause.

What do you think of the cover, especially if you’re a Valley mama out there that nurse(d) your older toddlers?

If you’re looking for something different to do with the family this weekend (May 18-20), head up to the KTD Monastery in Woodstock for their inaugural family weekend, Bodhi Kids. Kids and parents can participate in storytelling, arts, and environmental awareness activities, which emphasize mindfulness and “convey the main principles of the Buddha’s teachings.” Activities include hikes, discussion groups, and music and visual media programs. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

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