Extended Breastfeeding: Is It Healthy?

Extended Breastfeeding: Is It Healthy?

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Is it unusual when the cover of TIME magazine depicts a young child being fed by the breast of his mother? Believe it or not, there are mothers who breastfeed their children up to the age of six. This trend can be classified as attachment parenting. Attachment parenting, as explored by TIME’s Kate Pickert, is a controversial issue that has been the topic of discussion for decades. Thus, whether attachment parenting is acceptable or not has been long debated, and its controversy can lead to some oppositions. Firstly, the cover’s title, “Are you mom enough?,” which advertises this parenting style, is questionable to working mothers. For instance, what does it even mean to be mom enough? Secondly, a major criticism of this parenting style is that it could lead to dependent and spoiled children. Then, Dr. Bill Sears, an advocate for this style of parenting, suggests to mothers that attachment parenting prevents bullying. Based on these objections, it appears to some people that there are more positive benefits associated with weaning a child off of breastfeeding before they reach a certain age.

The cover of TIME magazine uses pathos to invoke acceptance as a child stands clinging on to his mother’s breast, along with the words, “Are you mom enough?” This assertion can empower some women to do the accepted thing; yet, offend other women, who don’t agree, at the same time. A mother’s primary role is to nurture and guide the growth of her family. The woman, in particular, displays this role in which, “her charge [is] to oversee her child’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual development” (Plant 2010). However, there are many ways to manage a child’s well-being, aside from breastfeeding up to the age of six. Therefore, the cover can imply that mothers. who don’t practice attachment parenting, are not woman enough. Moreover, it doesn’t necessarily make a mother a bad parent if she doesn’t attend to her child’s every cry, sleep beside him at night, or breastfeed him throughout his entire adolescence. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Afterwards, their studies suggest that the child “should receive complementary foods that are nutritionally adequate (providing sufficient calories, protein as well as micronutrients needed for proper growth) and safe while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or more” (Children’s Health). Based on their study, there is a positive correlation between weaning a child completely off of his mom by two and his level of independence into toddlerhood.

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Generally, there are many different ways to parent a child. Nevertheless, some mothers believe their parenting styles are conventional, but there are other parenting styles that are just as effective, which still foster healthy parent-child relationships. Given that, a parent should weigh in on both positive and negative consequences, before settling on the attachment parenting style.

If you look at the photo on the TIME cover, what does the boy’s peek at the camera with a breast in his mouth give off to us viewers? Like, if he stares at someone for too long, he could probably make their heart’s melt. Notably, attachment parenting is coupled with indulgent and lenient parenting practices, which could lead children to turn out to be spoiled and dependent. Studies show that parents who practice attachment parenting rarely discipline their children. Therefore, a lack of discipline could lead to negative consequences, such as throwing temper tantrums when one doesn’t get his way, embarrassing the mother out in public, and one could even become a bully in school. These are the kind of measures any parent should use as a guideline for raising their child. The way children are raised influence the type of person they become through adulthood. Parenting styles play a major role in children and their interactions in the real world. For example, a child who’s always been reliant on his mother could feel emotional distress or neglect once it’s time for him to go out into the world on his own. He would not know how to live without having his mother within the vicinity. To survive in the real world, isn’t it vital for a parent to raise their children to be prepared to take on life’s challenges?

TIME’s cover uses ethos to appeal to credibility by using a knowledgeable doctor to assure parents that attachment parenting is the way to go, “Why attachment parenting drives some mothers to extremes- – and how Dr. Bill Sears became their guru.” Dr. Bill Sears advocates to women that attachment parenting is natural and instinctive. Any parenting style can be natural and instinctive, but parenting should also consider limits and boundaries. For instance, there are mothers that substitute their own needs and wants by making their child the focus of the universe, others never say, “No” to their child, or some have never even left their child alone with anyone else, including their own father. Moreover, in an article, Dr. Sears mentioned he has never known of any of his patients becoming a bully, who grew up in an attachment parenting home. But, Dr. Sears specifies no evidence of his claim. Doctors tend to have hundreds of patients a year; therefore, they are unable to keep up with each of their patients. In fact, one of his past patients can be a bully now. As a result, Dr. Sears offers no proof or evidence to justify his statement.

All in all, the cover of TIME shocked the world, causing many different reactions. TIME magazine’s representation of attachment parenting can be taken as either dissuasive or persuasive, depending on one’s view of the situation. Although opinions tend to vary, I hope you can see that I have good reasons for feeling the way I do. Regardless, whether readers feel this parenting style is biologically normal and accepted or exploitive and extreme; the purpose of the cover is to catch reader’s attention. In turn, it questions how people raise their children.



Works Cited

Plant, Rebecca Jo. Mom : The Transformation Of Motherhood In Modern America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 25 Oct. 2014.

“Extended Breastfeeding: Is It Healthy?” Children’s Health Blog. Children’s Health, 1 June 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
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