Monday, June 27, 2011

no judgement here

When Archer was born, I stayed at home for the first year. It was a year of turbulence, to say the least, but I had just graduated from college the year before and started my first semester of graduate school. At that point I began pursuing my teaching certification, and was just trying to decide what would be the most efficient way to help provide for my family.

I absolutely loved my year with him as a baby. I would sit and snuggle with him for hours on end. For the first five months of his life, I was also able to breast feed. I truly enjoyed those months and wish I had been able to do it longer, especially knowing that would be the only time I would be able to stay at home with a baby. I can't say how long I would have done it, but I can only say I think that's a decision that's up to each individual mother. What works best for your family, for you and baby. No one else knows what it's like at your house, or what your baby really needs when you're out in public.

I also know that lots of people actually think they do know what's best for you and your family. That's clear from the unsolicited advice we as moms get and give constantly. We all hate it, so I'm not sure why we think it's our job to dole it out. Maybe it's the desire to help others, maybe it's wanting others to know you've been there, maybe it's knowing that one thing that really worked for you, that does not in fact work for everyone.

I came across the blog of Mayim Bialik today, the actress who played Blossom. I actually was just googling her, and a blog post about her breast feeding popped up. I will honestly admit that at one point in my life, I would have judged someone for breast feeding a toddler. But, now I'm to the point that, 1) I'm no longer egocentric enough to think that my opinion matters that much. 2) It's in no way harming her child, so why should I care and 3) What exactly would my caring do?

She made a few points in the post that I really liked though, so just in case you don't click the link you can still read them. :)

If he’s old enough to ask for it, isn’t he too old to have it?

Well, my son is not verbal yet, and although he has been signing for milk since he was 11 months old, he still needs to nurse. Whoever decided that “when they can ask for it, they should wean” must not have wanted to keep nursing, and that’s fine for them, but it is working for us, verbalized or signed! (Love that, she's not defensive, and points out that parenting is not one size fits all.)

Isn’t it weird having a walking talking thinking LARGE child nursing?

I will admit that nursing a newborn or even a 1 year old is very different from nursing a child in boots and a raincoat. But I struggle to understand why it’s not accepted. Besides the fact that it’s not “typical,” I don’t see that there is anything inherently wrong with it, other than people thinking it’s wrong.

But you don’t nurse him at night, do you???

In our family, we let our children nurse until they’re done, and the earth’s position relative to the sun does not change our philosophy. (Love this too.)

What do your family/friends/the public at large think?

Most everyone in my family thinks this party should have been shut down yesterday. My Ph.D. in Neuroscience as well as my recent certification as a Lactation Educator/Counselor has quieted many of their attempts to reason with me, since I have a lot of research, support, and education on my side, and most of what they have – with all due respect- is uninformed hunches, personal uncomfortableness with nursing, and just plan old “I didn’t do that, so why are you?” reasoning. Most of my close friends in our community nursed their kids into the toddler years. (My most favorite response of all, as I just don't value so much what the "world at large" thinks when it comes to my parenting. I'm the only one in my shoes, my family is the only family I'm concerned about and as long as my kids are ok, no one else needs to care about what I'm doing.)

There is more, but I'll stop. Mostly the point of this post is, parents who are doing the best for their children deserve support and not judgement. It's not our place to assume that what we are doing is the only way to do it. It works for you, great, doesn't mean it works for anyone else. When asked for a suggestion, please share, other wise, please don't.

I ask this, the next time you hear of a parenting practice that makes you curl your nose, do a little research. Find out why said parent is doing it and instead of judging them, offer your support. If there's one thing I've learned from being a parent is that a kind word can make a bad day better.

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Anonymous said...

I am bubbling with happiness :-)
It is a highly guarded secret that I still breastfeed my 34 month old toddler. I hide it now, and sometimes downright lie about it because I was persecuted by friends and family. But I very much subscribe to the theory that each mom does what is best for their child. What I choose for mine, including paci, potty training, books, tv, etc will not be the choice of many, and that is what makes us a great and dynamic group of girls.
<3 ya Dakota!

Nobodys Nothings said...

personally, i don't subscribe to the "breastfeeding a walking talking thinking LARGE child" way of thinking. i don't hold it against, or turn my nose up at someone who does... but i will say that SOME people do tend to lose sight of reality after they've done it that long. they forget that it's NOT within society's norm to expose themselves in front of strangers...

my husband once walked into a woman's home to install a security system for her. while he was explaining how the system worked, her NINE year old son walked up to her, lifted her DRESS and started nursing. her everything was fully exposed, and in no way do i find that appropriate... had my own 8 year old come up to me and asked me for a glass of water, i would have told him to wait until our guest was finished talking. it's just common manners... i've also seen a 6 year old child literally slap her mothers breasts because she wasn't getting enough milk for her pleasure. if my kid threw his or her cup across the room when they were done, i'd make them pick it up and explain to them why it's wrong. this particular mother getting her boobies bitch slapped did nothing more than say "oh well" while her tits were bouncing back and forth in front of a crowd.

i think the main problem is that the only women who get attention for doing it are the ones who get up in arms over it, flaunting it when and where they can. i have no problem with a talking walking LARGE toddler QUIETLY nursing with his or her mother. i think it's a wonderful, sweet thing they can share together. i do, however, have a problem with women who show as much as they can just to make a statement, daring someone to gainsay their personal decisions.

they're the ones who give it a bad name, and ruin it for the others, such as Anonymous up there who i'm sure has never exposed her vag to a stranger or had her titties slapped in public.

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