Monday, May 14, 2012

Family Values

It's been quite the month for family values, hasn't it?  North Carolina decided it knew best who should get married and who shouldn't.  President Obama stood up for his beliefs about gay marriage (and now has been "outted" in Newsweek).  And then there was Time Magazine displaying a mother and son nursing on it's cover - an act that should be a beautiful and private and instead made to look unnatural and freakish.  The article itself brings the concept of attached parenting front and center.

I consider myself an attached parent for the most part, but I suspect that some of the more hard-core APers out there probably think I'm a wanna-be.  We did/do many of the things that AP espouses.  We co-slept and we never did anything like sleep/feeding scheduling.  (I should say that I didn't schedule the feedings -- The Peanut scheduled herself to nurse every two hours like clock-work for the better part of the first 12 - 13 months of her life).  Speaking of nursing, we did that until she was almost two.  I did end up weaning her around 22 months when she decided that I made the Best Teething Toy Ever.  The Peanut also spent the better part of her first couple of years in a sling on my hip when she wasn't running around getting into stuff.  The Peanut learned to sign along the way so we actually had a great communication system going before she learned to talk.

Do I think our way of child-rearing is the Only Way or the Best Way?  Of course not.  AP was not something we actually planned to do.  Truth be told, I'm not sure we had a real plan in mind when we set out other than to trust our guts and listen to what The Peanut told us she needed.  We fell into AP.  We co-slept because of the nursing schedule.  We put her in the sling because she wanted to be held.  A lot.  We taught her to sign because  it was clear that she wanted to communicate.  So AP worked for us.  Does everything about AP work for us?  Not at all -- like everything else we do with The Peanut, we have a blended approach.  (This will probably get me kicked out of the AP Club for admitting that, but there it is).  I do firmly believe that the AP philosophy has tons of good points and makes a lot of sense, but I also get that for whatever reason, it just isn't for everyone.

Time Magazine's cover just makes me sad.  First, it takes nursing which I think is something beautiful and makes it gross and sexualized.  A friend of mine wondered what the mother and the magazine were thinking when they set that shot up.  What's going to happen to that kid in a few years?  What will he say when he sees that picture several years from now?  What will the class bully say?  Second, it casts AP in a not-so-flattering light.  AP already has its "hippy-dippy" baggage and with good reason given some of the more hardcore APers out there who scream their message every chance they get.  This picture only fuels the flames around extended nursing and by extension other AP ideas.

How we love one another and how we love and raise our children are our own business.  Not the government's.  Not Time Magazine's.  It frustrates me that we as a society haven't figured this out yet and may never.

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