As the World Churns

There has been much brouhaha over the recent cover photo on Time Magazine. The controversy over breastfeeding is not a new debate, but it is increasingly becoming a focal point as the push to promote healthier children and create a social acceptance for it in public venues also increases. While many here in the United States have been psychologically programmed into the opinion that weaning babies within a year or two is the appropriate timeframe, there is much to be said for cultures that have historically breastfedfor longer periods.

Breastfeeding symbol

Breastfeeding symbol (Photo credit: Topinambour)

Few will question the health benefits for children that are breastfed, as it has been proven to boost a child’s intelligence, immune system, increased absorption of vitamins and minerals, and it also creates a greater resistance to allergens. For mothers, it lowers risks of breast cancer. The real controversy really revolves around the socialization and psychological effects that many of that community believe are created by those of the same opinion that it is unacceptable for longer feeding practices.

In some cultures, the longer feeding time allowed for stronger ties between mother and child, as these are the years when a mother typically spends nurturing the child, instilling domestic skills and sharing family social etiquette. Many of these time honored traditions are lost on present day civilizations thanks to in part the high pressure demands of jobs and feminism which has in many ways, at times made women to feel as though they ought not embrace their femininity in order to fit in a male dominated labor force.

As women have been increasingly pulled away from the maternal bonds with their children, there has been a steady decline that is apparent in the way that children now behave in public. While it is true that father’s typically were the disciplinarian in the home, it was time with mom that built culture in them so that when the children began to interact with others within the community they knew what was appropriate.

Another reason this topic has evoked such virulent emotions is that there is this thought that to feed children or to display it the way it has been done in Time Magazine, is that it will somehow create some sense of serialization of the practice. Again, this is only an issue among those who are unaware of cultures that do feed longer. While depicting it in such a way so openly on the front cover might cause those who have a propensity towards deviant behavior to become aroused, this natural act is by no means something to be ashamed of.

Stronger children that have stronger ties to their parents are more likely to have greater and stronger memories of their relationships with parent and of their childhood. It is also quite possible that it could enable those same children to have a greater desire to care for aging parents because of those same strong ties that were formed in those critical early years.

Since there hasn’t been an extensive study done by any particular group in the scientific community, much of this is completely speculative. It would truly be interesting to see over the next generation or two what the parallel differences there actually are between what we have determined as an appropriate length of time for breastfeeding versus cultures that do breastfeed longer.

QUESTION: What concerns do you have regarding both breastfeeding and this photo that has stirred such a frenzy?

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