That (Shocking) Time Magazine Cover

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I’ll admit to not having yet read the entire article yet — The Man Who Remade Motherhood — which profiles Dr. Sears and discusses Attachment Parenting. It’s all over my Facebook feed, and is admittedly very hard to miss. But I DO have to ask our readers what you think of this month’s cover image… Clearly they were going for shock value, rather than a thoughtful discussion on the merits of AP. And the Mother’s Day timing is obvious. Finally, how do you feel about the child in this photo being used in this manner? Please weigh in in the combox below.

Edited: Just a quick follow up to say that if you would like to hear directly from the mom featured in this cover photo and from Dr. Sears on the concepts related to Attachment Parenting, visit the Today Show website. The featured video includes Cover mom Jamie Grumet, 26, and her son Aram, with Jaime responding directly to the media frenzy surrounding the photo.

Copyright 2012 Lisa M. Hendey

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About Author

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaHendey and "like" her on Facebook @LisaMHendey.

26 Comments

  1. As a first time mom, I am just trying to do the best I can. Its hard enough to decipher what’s best for our family given all the information being thrown my way. My husband and I have decided to raise our child in a loving, gentle approach-defined as ‘attachment parenting.’ I just call it parenting. Anyways, its hard enough to defend our parenting choices to our families, why must Time magazine make it harder??? A little bit of support instead of tongue in cheek criticism would have been nice.

  2. Lisa, like you, I’m frustrated that the discussion about AP has shifted to “this is a plot to bring down women,” instead of a more thoughtful and realistic look at all of the benefits that accrue when we make young children a priority. Many of my friends and I would describe our parenting as strongly influenced by the AP philosophy, and not one of us has gone over the edge!

    The photos are obviously chosen to sensationalize and trivialize (and sell magazines). One more reason I don’t pay much attention to Time, Newsweek, or any of the others.

  3. My husband and I are big fans of Dr. Sears and agree with a lot of his parenting advice regarding Attachment Parenting. But it is frustrating when a media outlet goes for shock value to sell instead of inform.
    Interestingly, yesterday a rapper was on the Ellen show wearing pasties over her nipples and a bra. Yet that’s okay in our culture. But nursing a toddler? Everyone goes crazy. Clearly our culture views breast in the wrong light.

  4. I lost sleep over this last night. Time Warner is a company that is corporately in bed with Nestle, a company known to try to destroy breastfeeding and who is in violation of the WHO. Time was also the magazine that demonized Salma Hayek for nursing a starving baby in Africa. There is a political agenda here. I wish we could focus on helping the huge number of women who are victims of the Formula Industry instead of demonizing women who do what God intended with their bodies. It makes me so sad.

  5. This was all over my FB feed too, and it did catch my attention. Although I only breastfed my children until they were about 15 months old–they really weaned themselves at this time, I try not to judge someone who does it much longer. But, it seems to me that it is just a comfort, a pacifying strategy at the older age. The milk is most likely not present if you are only breastfeeding once a month. Anyhow, if it works for the parent then all the power to them. I know it makes society uncomfortable though. In our circle of friends, I was the only one to breastfeed and I didn’t even feel that I could do so around them even with a cover up for fear of making the husbands in the group uncomfortable. However, with my second child, if I was in my own home then I would stay put and put on my cover up and if they were uncomfortable, then too bad. But, if we were in their home, I would go to another room. Anyhow, like Laura said, parenting is hard enough without having people scrutinize every decision…

  6. Wow! They were going for shock factor and got it. I think it’s sad. Just plain sad that they did that to that boy and the woman who allowed herself to be placed in a position like that. Ugh.

  7. I haven’t read the story. I’m a mother of 10 and one on the way and I have breastfed all of my children (and practice “AP” I guess). I have nursed some of my children past three years old. This picture is disgusting and completely unnecessary. It gives nursing mothers a bad name. I’m not even one to “cover up” when I nurse but come on. There is NO reason for a picture like this. None whatsoever. It doesn’t even make “AP” look good. It makes it look nuts, frankly, and in some weird way sexual.

  8. I too feel that this is a ploy to demonize breastfeeding women. I wish that the world viewed breasts in the way they were intended….to feed children. They were not created for the gradification of men, which is the only way they are viewed as today. Women are looked down upon for breastfeeding, and that saddens me. I breastfed both of my children, and plan to do so for my future children. I have no problem with extended breastfeeding, but this picture was used to sexualize breastfeeding. That makes me sick.

    • I interpret this photograph and headline completely differently. It doesn’t make me demonize breastfeeding women. I really REALLY wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. When I visit pro-breast sites like LLL, I feel like a failure. So when I see a cover asking if I’m “mom enough” I have to sadly admit, No, I guess I’m not.

      • Meg, wow, you certainly ARE “mom enough”! I had the same issue with my first son, Eric. We tried diligently (and also with absolutely NO education) to exclusively breastfeed. Eric lost over two pounds in his first two weeks (they didn’t do a one week weight check back then) and was diagnosed with “failure to thrive” — which in my book also meant “mom is a failure”. But the truth is that every mom wants and works for the best for her baby. Some — like us — physically can’t provide enough milk but I don’t think that makes us failures.

        A closer look at all of the photos has me wondering if instead of being provocative, that they are meant to convey a sense of power — that the women in question firmly believe in their commitment to AP and that they are unembarrassed to say it out loud. In any event, I’m grateful for a thoughtful conversation on the merits — and frankly also the challenges — of being a breastfeeding mom in today’s US society.

        • I also had problems breastfeeding. My baby lost weight because she was a “lazy sucker”. I tried everything, but my baby’s health came first, so I had to put her on formula. I felt like a failure at first, but now that she is 18 yrs. old and healthy and happy, I know that I am not a failure. With my second child I was able to breastfeed for 6 weeks, but became very sick and could not continue. I found out when he was 4 yrs. old that I had Lupus, and that explained everything. Some women are not able to breast feed as long as they would like too, but are not failures. I wish that breastfeeding advocates could understand our side of things. We want what is best for our babies just as much as they do. I am all for breastfeeding and would have loved to have been able to do so longer with both of my children.

  9. This was a HUGE topic of discussion yesterday. From the obvious “who stretches their nice tank and makes their kid stand on a stool to nurse while both are voyeuristically staring at the camera” to how TIME magazine and their approach of “shock value” covers is really the only thing they have going for their sales.

    I thought it was disingenuous on *so* many fronts. It mocks mothers who EBF {because, honestly, who NURSES like that??} and it mocks Dr. Sears and whatever valid points his advice offers.

    At the end of the day, it just seems like another divisive measure to pit women against women, mothers against mothers – making each other feel less – and just turns a natural act into practically kiddie porn.

    It’s sad…but I’m not surprised by secular news sources anymore.

  10. Wow, I saw this on TV last night and have been wrestling with it since. I breastfeed my kids and definitely support the physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding. However, I just get an uncomfortable, cringing feeling when I look at this photo. I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think it may be because of the defiant nature in which the mother is standing. It may also be because my personal beliefs are that breastfeeding is primarily meant to nourish the growing body of a child, and that the emotional benefits (bonding with baby/mother etc.) are bonus. This picture, to me, does not portray either.

    Also, being realistic about the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, we are fortunate enough to live in a country where most people can afford to feed their children food when they are old enough to eat it safely, so I don’t feel that it’s necessary to breastfeed a child well into their toddler stage. Some may argue that they breastfeed that long for emotional benefits for the child, but at what point do the unforeseen emotional problems that may arise outweigh the benefits? I feel there are other alternatives to bonding with your child that can be more age-appropriate.

    Unfortunately, people sometimes adopt certain behaviors to fulfill an unhealthy need for attention or their own emotional fulfillment. My fear is that some of these people who are involved in the exploitation of breastfeeding (such as this photo appears to be) or who have become what I would consider extreme in their breastfeeding methods are seeking just that.

    My own experience…I was blessed that my kids were ready to be done breastfeeding on their own at about one year old. I may not have been emotionally ready for it myself, but I knew in my heart that they were ready to take that next step of independence, and I had to support and reinforce that step, because I knew it was best for them. After all, mothers, we know it’s not about us. :-)

    Can’t wait to read this article….

  11. The images are polarizing, to say the least. I nursed all four of my kids for well over a year and was happy to do so, modestly and in public, whenever convenient (i.e. if everyone else is eating in a restaurant, then so will my baby). I don’t think images like this help encourage more moms to exclusively breastfeed their kids (which is what AAP and WHO and a gazillion other medical organizations acknowledge is best) & nurse for a longer time (we are behind all other industrialized nations in this). It just serves to further freak out the people who are already squeamish about extended nursing and nursing in public (abbreviated, brilliantly, as NIP =o) ).

    Before I had my first child, I read Dr. Sears’ book, and I found much of it spot on and sensible. But, I took that advice (and advice contained elsewhere) and found a way to make parts of it work for me. For instance, instead of completely co-sleeping, we had a side-car style co-sleeper and I would pull my babies into bed with us on their first waking. That way, they still learned to sleep alone sometimes and were ready to do so when they were consistently sleeping through the night (this was important, because we have a queen bed and NO ONE was going to sleep well if our bed became a “family bed” once the 2nd, 3rd and 4th came along. I’m so glad I didn’t feel the need to completely buy into any one parenting strategy to be a successful parent. I just did my research, prayerfully considered what I was being called to do, decided what would be best for my kids in the long run, and considered whether that was sustainable for our lifestyle.(Stepping off my soapbox now)

  12. I have refrained from commenting on this because I’m not quite sure what I think. A part of me wants to believe that some good ole psych tricks were played on this mother when they were looking for volunteers for the shoot. Someone likely made this woman into some kind of victim, “they tell you it’s unnatural to breastfeed a 3 year old. They say it’s disgusting, etc etc.”
    And somewhere in the midst of it, the woman grew proud of her decisions enough to allow herself to be staged in such a position that says, “I don’t care what you think.”
    Now, as a breastfeeding mother of a near 3 year old- this cover breaks my heart. For one, if I have had my way, we would have been done nursing when my son turned 1, maybe 1.5. By then I was beyond done. And then I got pregnant, hoping it would decrease my supply and he would naturally wean. No such thing took place. Here we are a year later, and I’ve tandem nursed for that entire time. My body is exhausted. My fertility is stalled. I am embarassed when my almost 3 year old asks to nurse- even at home.
    I am so sick of hearing people say it’s all about the mother and what the mother wants. My desires forweaning- a long time ago- were trumped by a high needs child who still needs the comfort.

    I just wish that people would for real- mind their own business regarding other’s parenting choices. Whether it be extended breastfeeding, cosleeping, daycare, formula feeding, vaccinating, etc etc etc.
    Time certainly has done a nice job rallying the masses- on both sides of this. Shame on them.

  13. sarah madden on

    I find nothing wrong with breastfeeding. I think that is a personal decision, but one that is very good for the child. I found the photo offensive as I felt it was meant to be titillating. I hope for the little boys sake it is forgotten sooner than later.

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