As much as I didn't want to contribute to a media giant's pocketbook, I found it necessary to purchase the latest addition of a magazine so I could understand, opine, and discuss the latest controversial magazine cover. You probably know the one I am talking about.... the one with the woman on the cover breast-feeding the toddler. The cover that is causing so much discussion and debate. The one that is supposedly igniting the incendiary kindling of the parenting divides.
I Just read the "Are You Mom Enough?' in Time. I went into my reading feeling very angry about the decision to use such a controversial photo. Although I was not personally offended by it, it irritated and angered me that this was not a representation of most nursing mothers as I understand them to be. I personally was not that nursing mother, though that does not mean they don't exist. If that is the way they choose to parent, they have every right to do so - and I support them.
The cover made it seem that there was huge debate over what makes you woman enough. The communication of the photo was that if you didn't nurse your children for an extended period of time then you were not "mother enough". When I read the article, I took away some opinions, realizations and impressions.
1. Cover was strictly for controversy/sales - Only 2 or 3 sentences were devoted to this lady on the cover. Her image was used to create buzz, shock, awe, argument, and as a result, sales. Commentators and the public fixated on this single issue of breast-feeding. It became an issue of breastfeeding, but in reality, the article talked some about that, but more about the general idea of attachment parenting.
2. Article notes flash points and divides in parenting communities. From what I see, these incendiary issues only seem to become incendiary when they are picked up by popular press and media. I have never had another parent come up to and exclaim "Your parenting sucks!" You're going to forever damage your child by parenting them!" I have never had a breastfeeding mother scream at me to take the bottle out of my child's mouth. Nor have I had a non breast-feeding mother scream at me to stop nursing. It just doesn't seem to be, in my opinion as divisive of an issue as popular press makes it out to be. Certainly there are a few on the extreme side of the argument, but there are innumerable others that are ok and accepting of how you choose to parent - as long as you are parenting out of love and best interest of your child.
3. Ideas in the parenting style from three people's observation or what they experienced as children. m The three primaries in this article that are noted with really making the idea of attachment parenting popular based much of their ideas from what they experienced, or wish they had experienced in childhood, or from observations they had made watching other's children. In reality, we all shape our ideas about parenting through what we have experienced ourselves, using what works and hopefully not using what doesn't. We parent from what we had received and what we wished we received. We do the best we can to be the best parents we can, in the way that best suits us and our children. Attachment parenting is "A" way to parent, not the only way.
4. Women may be redefining what they are as mothers based on man's opinion of what a mother should be, and how she can "best" mother her child. That said, I truly believe the Doctor behind this idea has the best intentions, is brilliant in his field, is a support and comfort to his patients, and truly cares for children and mothers. That is clear in his life's work and in how the article portrayed him. However, there is something special that happens when a woman holds a baby, births a baby breast feeds a baby - whether it is her biological child or not. I don't know if it's the estrogen in our bodies or the way our brains are wired, but here is an intuitive and instinctive part of mothering. As much as a man can try, I don't know that he can have the same gut responses to the nurturing of a child. Does it mean he is wrong? NO! But, we should not ignore what our own instincts and guts are telling us as women solely based on the ideas and information of an expert. As a mother, we know our children intimately. We read their signals. We can look at them and know if they are sick, sad, happy,. content. We should not ignore our own knowledge of our children.
5. The ideas of attachment parenting give leeway to what parents do and adopt - it seems to be parents that ascribe to an "all in" approach. Attachment parenting is a continuum. It is was not portrayed as an "all or nothing" way to parent, but more of if this works for you and you are comfortable with it, use it philosophy. It was noted that perceived stringency and the opinion of how stringently it should be followed, in the view of the primaries, has changed as time has gone on. Life has changed for so many people as have the daily responsibilities of running a household. It is acknowledged that not every aspect of the idea of attachment parenting will work for every person. But, there are those that will take every aspect to heart. It may work for them, but it does not mean it has to work for everyone.
This article was a buzz piece though not evil. It was controversy for sales. I have even heard it said that it is supposed to be a conversation starter.
As a parent and as a woman, I know that controversy does not cause conversation, it causes argument . Argument creates sides. Sides create division. Division leads to an unwillingness to listen. An unwillingness to listen leads to no forward movement.
Instead of division, we need to support each other and know that we each have a different parenting style and different things work for us and for our children. We need to share dialogue, not argument. As moms and as women, our hearts should be open to new ideas, even if we don't adopt them for ourselves. Honest assessments of ourselves and changing what we should, but holding firm to what our instincts and hearts tell us as mothers makes us WOMAN ENOUGH!
Say it with me......
I am MOM enough!