Sunday, December 26, 2010

Well, That's Not a Good Role Model For Sustained Breastfeeding

Jack was weaned when he was 4.5.

Go ahead. Gasp in surprise.

Okay.  You done?  I'll continue now.  

It was hard to keep going that long.  I try not to care what other people think, but sadly I do.  I knew (and know) a lot of people think breastfeeding beyond a year is horribly wrong.  It seems many people think breastfeeding period is disgusting, and sometimes their opinions get to me. 

I counteracted the uneducated rash opinions with....

The American Academy of Pediatric's official statement that says There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.

The American Academy of Family Physicians official statement that says Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired.

The World Health Organization that says Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.

Honestly though.  I don't put an abundance of faith in the medical world, so I gave most attention to the Texas anthropologist who studied human cultures and primates to determine that the natural age of human weaning should be about 2.5-7 years old.  

Even when you have education and rationality on your side, the ignorance of others can be biting.   Like yesterday, I was unnerved when I saw a comment from a Christian saying that those who can't accept America is a Christian country, should leave.  Or how many times does a gay person go online, and hear that they're sick, evil, wrong, going to hell, etc?

Anyway, I wish more people were educated about extended breastfeeding.  I wish it was shown as being something that normal (or FAIRLY normal) people do, instead of presenting it as some kind of extreme alternative lifestyle.   

So, for that reason (and many other reasons) Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap made me uncomfortable.  There are a lot of icky people in the book, but the one I hated the most was a mother who breastfed her four-year-old child.  She's not as bad as Umbridge, in terms of making me want to scream. But she IS pretty awful. So I don't know.....

Well, I don't want people reading the book and getting the idea that all moms who breastfeed their children are so awful.  And many people already have that opinion, so the book is just going to give validation to their beliefs.

Rosie (the breastfeeding mom) makes no visible effort to discipline her child, and the little boy is a bratty little terror. The central plot of the novel is that an asshole loses his temper and slaps the child at a barbecue.

The book asks us. Is it okay for adults to hit other people's children?

The answer I got from reading?  No. It is NOT okay to hit children. But it IS okay to WANT to hit a child.    

It's about self control.

The average child can be infuriating sometimes.  And some children are above average in that regard.

I am fairly certain (based on what I've read and experienced) that sustained breastfeeding does NOT cause bad behavior.  Although I'm not sure if there could be a correlation in regards to the manner in which a child is breastfed.

Infants are supposed to be breastfed on demand.  Baby starts looking hungry or getting cranky, you stick a boob in it's mouth. On the bus? It doesn't matter. Lift up that shirt.   At a supermarket with a trolley, walk while breastfeeding.  A baby doesn't need to be taught patience. They shouldn't be forced to wait.

The motto should be stop, drop, and breastfeed.    

I'm not so sure it should be the same for a toddler, or child who's older than that. At a certain age, a child can wait.  A child can be distracted.  A child can be given a temporary alternative treat or form of comfort.  A child that age can and should understand limits.

So MAYBE there might be a correlation between mothers who breastfeed their preschool aged children on demand, and lack of discipline.

Let's say it was books instead of breastfeeding. There's nothing wrong with reading a book to a child.  In fact, it's supposed to be healthy...a bonding experience....educational.   It's WONDERFUL to read to a child.  But what if a mom dropped everything and read to her child every time he demanded it? Wouldn't that possibly create the type of child that adults have an urge to slap?

I just went to pee, and stopped to watch Jack play Mario Bros. I think someone should do a study to see if there's a correlation between sustained breastfeeding and video game ability. I'm amazed at Jack's talent.

Now, is he a brat?

Every so often. There have been times in our lives where Jack has acted in a highly unpleasant way.   The same goes for every child and adult that I know.  No one is perfect.

I will say it doesn't come from a lack of discipline. 

That being said....We don't spank. We don't shake or beat our child. Although once I was really angry and threw socks at him. I'm still ashamed of that.

We DO discipline.  We do say no when needed. We do overtly express our disapproval....loudly sometimes.   

Most parents I know discipline their children, and like us....they have reasonably behaved children.    You can read all the parenting books and parenting magazines.  You can follow the advice, do the right thing, TRY to do the right thing, and you still don't get a perfect family.  You still create embarrassing scenes in the middle of the mall.   

I HAVE met families who do not discipline their children, and who do not believe in disciplining their children. They're not pleasant to be around.

Disciplining does not have to be about spanking, shaming, yelling, or punishing. Although sometimes one has to turn to the less evil of those options as a last resort.

But how about just a....

Stop that, honey. It's not okay to knock down other people's block buildings.  

Please don't swing that stick.  You might hit someone. 

Don't kick that woman. It's not nice.   

No.  Screaming that loud is NOT going to get you an ice-cream cone. 

When we were in line at Disney World, I encountered a woman that reminds me of Rosie.  Her son was little....too young to really know any better.  I'd say he was probably younger than two.  I can't blame him for his behavior, but I do wonder what he'll be like in a few years.

I forgot exactly what happened.   He was touching me in some way, not very friendly. He was intrusive.  I guess I'll leave it at that.   And you know, sometimes a baby or toddler stranger will reach out to touch you, and it's really sweet and cute?  It's all heart-warming? Well, this wasn't like that.    I felt the kid's attention was antagonistic.  

That was bothersome, but the mother's reaction was even more unnerving.  She was so blind about her child. She gave off those looks that say Isn't my child the most brilliant adorable creature on the planet?

She refused to consider the idea that her child was misbehaving, and instead decided he was being sweet.  She decided he was being affectionate because he LIKED me.   She wouldn't stop him from pestering me.

I didn't have an urge to slap the kid, but I did look forward to getting away from them.    

Even when babies are being cute with their bold touchiness, I appreciate when parents sheepishly apologize and eventually pull their child away.  In my opinion, that's proper behavior.

Anyway, I don't think it's breastfeeding that causes children to be awful. I suspect one of the causes is parents believing they have the most perfect adorable angelic creatures on the planet.

I think us good parents ALSO believe are children are fantastic, brilliant, adorable, angelic, etc.   But we also recognize that our kids can also be demonic monsters at times.

I think Tsiolkas did an excellent job of portraying the type of mother who drives me batty.  I just wish he hadn't emphasized the breastfeeding bit so much.

Maybe I should counteract that.  Jack is often pretty damn awesome. He's impressed strangers on several occasions.  Maybe when that happens, I should blurt out.   He breastfed until he was 4.5!

Wow!   I love that Jack's not a picky eater.   He's so brave when it comes to eating.

Yes!  Thank you.  He breastfed until he was 4.5!

I've never met a child so polite!

Yes, thank you.   He breastfed until he was 4.5!

He's so smart!

Yes, thank you.  He breastfed until he was 4.5!

When he misbehaves, I'll keep quiet about the breastfeeding thing......