Last week Time Magazine came out with a very provocative cover. It showed a mom with her 4 year old son standing on a stool breastfeeding. The article discusses a parenting trend called "Attachment Parenting," which basically asserts that there should not be an age limit to the breastfeeding of children. If children still wants a "snack" at 3, 4, 5 or even 6 years old and parents are still willing, and if it seems to comfort and bring closeness to the child-parent relationship, why not?
I was interviewed by USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor newspapers last week for my take on this controversial cover which you can read below. So I won't go into my thoughts on that particular issue in this blog, but it did make me think about parents who keep their teens at their metaphorical breasts. The question all parents need to ask, whether as a parent of a 4 year old, or a parent of a 14 year old is this: "Whose needs am I meeting here? Do I keep my teen dependent on me whether by "helping them," (and by this I mean doing) their homework for them, keeping them close to home, make my opinions from what clothes to wear, what friends to keep, or even something so simple as what to eat at a restaurant, so indispensable that they are terrified to make a decision without me. Do I "help them"and by this I mean, get their summer jobs for them, write their college applications, and don't hold them accountable when they screw up, all in the name of support? Do I solve all their problems and make everything all better so they don't have to feel anxiety or depression?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, let's hope your breast milk dries up soon. The task of all adolescents is to become adept at becoming confident in their ability to take care of themselves. If they rely on you to "feed them" and to anticipate for them when they will be "hungry" they will be completely unprepared for the challenges they face as soon as they walk out the door of your home. And you don't have to wait for college for them to have to face this world. That happens every single day of their life. If your teen is texting you a million times a day asking what he/she should do in this situation, or in that one, whether with their teacher, their coach, or their friends, they are still hanging on that breast. That must feel pretty good to you. There is nothing more satisfying than being needed by your teen. And thought they might not like to hear you say, "gee honey, I don't know what you should do. What do you think?" Think they must. Remember this generation likes to get information fast. Don't be their google button. Let them go hungry!