This week’s cover photo on Time magazine has turned up the heat on the controversy surrounding breastfeeding toddlers and preschoolers. The reaction is varied.
Some think the image of mother Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her preschool-aged son is natural and beautiful. Others find the image disturbing. And some just roll their eyes, pull their shoulders toward their ears and think “who cares?”
The words that accompany the photo read like a battle cry: “Are You Mom Enough?”
Oddly, the story the photo illustrates is not about breastfeeding children who are no longer babies — not entirely anyway.
The article explores a childrearing style known as attachment parenting, which started its climb up the popularity ladder two decades ago after Dr. Bill Sears published his bestselling parenting manifesto, The Baby Book. Sears is profiled in the story.
In addition to promoting the concept of babies weaning themselves from the breast (something that usually happens between ages 1 and 2), attachment parenting encourages “baby-wearing,” “co-sleeping” and responding quickly to a baby’s cry.
Crysta Bourdon, a doula and owner of Gentle Beginnings, a childbirth services organization in Southeastern Ohio, is a “huge proponent” of attachment parenting, but says the Time cover is an “epic fail.”
“I think that cover photo is a ridiculously exaggerated illustration of attachment parenting,” Bourdon told InvestorPlace. “It’s just more fuel for the mom wars. Every mother is ‘mom enough’ if she’s parenting in love.”
Bettina Forbes, co-founder of an organization called Best for Babes, likes the cover and thinks it “will make mainstream America less squeamish about women breastfeeding children of any age,” she told ABC. “It’s high time we talk about these things,” Forbes said.
Martin Schoeller, the photographer who captured the cover image and several other photos illustrating attachment parenting, said on Time’s website that his intent was to avoid stereotypes.
“It was important to show that there’s no stereotypical look for a mom who practices this kind of parenting,” Schoeller said.