05.17.12 You've got unlimited ways to be a parent. Pick what works for you.
So, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve likely seen the Time magazine cover of Los Angeles-based mom Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her almost-4-year-old son. And, you’ve likely read (and heard and seen) more commentary than you’d care to on the topic. The story itself doesn’t focus very much on breastfeeding, except to say that it’s one of the basic tenets of attachment parenting, a child-rearing philosophy touted by William Sears, M.D. (Full disclosure, Sears is on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy.) In fact, the article itself is much less polarizing than the cover image—so much so that I was actually a little disappointed when I finished reading it. I was hoping for the same fireworks in the story that was generated by the photo, but what I came away with was simply a better understanding of who Sears is and how his baby-care book—aptly titled The Baby Book—has helped to shape modern day parenting. I will admit that as a working mom, I was surprised to read in the article that Sears has suggested “mothers quit their jobs and borrow money to make up the difference.” This just seems like bad advice in bad economic times—but even Sears doesn’t always know best, right?
Here’s the thing: As a parent, your greatest gift—and sometimes your greatest source of stress—is that you have a choice. You get to choose if you breastfeed (or not); if carry your baby in a sling or push him in a stroller; if you sleep with your baby or let him cry it out in his crib. You are in charge. Not your best friend who has three kids, not the 1,001 parenting experts who have written books, and certainly not Sears.
I’m not saying that you should eschew advice from medical experts or those who have been-there–and-done-that, but take in what works for you—and toss the rest. It was incredibly important to me to breastfeed my son (and I did until he was almost 2)—but it was also essential I get enough sleep, so I moved him into his own room (and his own crib) at 3-months-old because my husband and I didn’t sleep a wink with him in our room.
If Jamie Lynne Grumet wants to breastfeed her son indefinitely, and pose doing just that on the cover of Time, more power to her. All parents get to decide what’s best for them and their babies—or almost-4-year-old. And one last thing: No matter what parenting choice you make, you’re more than mom enough.
What’s your parenting philosophy?