Attachment parenting is about the need of parents for validation, not the needs of children

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Imagine a cocktail party where everyone introduced him or herself with reference to a car.

Hi, I’m Debbie and I drive a Ford Explorer

Nice, to meet you Debbie. I’m Karen and I drive a Lexus RX350. Let me introduce Kathy; she drives a Subaru. And here’s Margie. She drives a Ford Explorer just like you.

Hi, Margie. I’m so glad to meet someone else who drives a Ford Explorer. It can be tough to be a Ford driver in this culture when no one else cares enough about their country to buy American cars.

What might we conclude from this brief exchange? First, it is clear that the people in this group have constructed their identity around car ownership, not simply differentiating between those who own cars and those who don’t, but tying identity directly to specific brands. Second, even in this short exchange, we can see that identity creation through brand choice leads to a form of security, through a sense of belonging to a self-chosen group. Third, although the car appears to be central, this is not about cars at all; it is really about self-definition.

Sounds ludicrous to create an identity around car brands, doesn’t it? Yet is strikingly similar to the current penchant for creating identity around specific parenting choices, also known as parental tribalism. According to Jan Macvarish:

The idea of ‘parental tribalism’ … [is] descriptive of a tendency among individuals to form their identities through the way they parent, or perhaps more precisely, through differentiating themselves from the way some parents parent and identifying with others …

Macvarish is a scholar in the relatively new field of “parenting culture.” She is a member of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies. The Centre’s key areas of research are common topics for discussion on this blog, including (among others): risk consciousness and parenting culture; the management of emotion and the sacralisation of ‘bonding’; the policing of pregnancy (including diet, alcohol consumption, smoking); the moralization of infant feeding (including breast and formula feeding, weaning); and The experience of the culture of advice/’parenting support’. Each of these topics is also a basis for parental tribalism.

Parental tribalism involves constructing an identity around parental choices, or rather constructing an identity centered on differentiating themselves from parents who make different choices. It is perhaps not coincidental that Mothering.com, the leading publication in the “natural” parenting community, refers to its individual message boards, each denoting a different parenting choice, as “tribes”, thereby highlighting differences and encouraging the construction of maternal identity around these differences.

Strikingly, many of these choices, although they appear to concern the well being of children, are really about the self image of parents. As Macvarish explains:

…[T]the focus on identities reflects adult needs for security and belonging and, although the child appears to be symbolically central, in fact ‘the cultural politics of parents’ self-definition have eclipsed a concern with the needs of children.

I have often said that homebirth, for example, is not about babies, and it is not even about birth. Homebirth is about mothers, their experiences, their needs and their desires.

As with all forms of tribalism, parental tribalism leads to conflicts:

[T]there is a frailty and sometimes hostility in real or imagined encounters between parents, where the parenting behaviour of one can either reinforce or threaten the identity of another. What is noticeable in contemporary mothers’ descriptions of their parenting experiences is that many feel stigmatised or assume a defensive stance about their parenting choices, even those apparently making officially sanctioned choices. For example, some breastfeeding mothers express the view that society still sees breastfeeding as abnormal, despite the fact that they are very much swimming with the tide of official advice …

Websites and publications concerned with attachment parenting, natural childbirth, homebirth and lactivism emphasize and encourage this hostility. There is an almost paranoid certainty that other mothers are watching and criticizing. The resultant defensiveness is the true source of the hostility. By aggressively promoting their own choices, aggressively demeaning the choices of other mothers, and aggressively insisting that anyone who makes different choices is implicitly criticizing them, advocates of attachment parenting, homebirth, lactivism, etc. encourage the very conflicts that they claim to deplore.

These conflicts do not benefit children, anyone’s children, in any way. That’s not surprising since it’s not about children, but about parental self image. Indeed, constructing identity around parenting choices has the potential to harm children, by ignoring the actual needs of children in favor of promoting the mother’s sense of security and belonging.

This piece first appeared in November 2010.

  • DefeetRexRyan

    This is almost always centered around mothers who have otherwise accomplished nothing else in life to feel important. Period. It’s not about the kid and never was.

  • sankoji

    Beautiful. My husband and I fall in line with most of the values of attachment parenting with our young son, but we refuse to be labeled as any type of parent – we’re just doing what works for us. We generally don’t concern ourselves with our friends’ parenting decisions, either – they do what works for them in completely different circumstances from our own.

    That being said, we’ve come across some attachment parents who make us cringe with their judgments of others. If the focus is truly on doing what’s best for your child, why is the external validation of it – and the critique of anyone whose values differ from your own – so important? No family’s parenting decisions should be up for debate, judgment or “education” as long as the children at hand are safe, happy and healthy.

  • Demi

    I think when it comes to attachment parenting, they’ve just stuck a brand name onto good parenting. The studies they show to support their case i think are questionable as they are mostly cherry picked from a range of various research papers, a lot of which are studies carried out in developing countries and most of the studies have have nothing to do with attachment parenting itself. If you compare neglected children living in poverty (children taken by social services who have been neglected and abused, for example, and i have seen some of the studies doing just this) with children from well off, educated, loving, caring stable families of course you’re going to see i difference in the children. Higher educated people usually have less children so they have more time to devote to each one, they are also better educated and more likely to breastfeed and follow government recommendations about co-sleeping (in the UK it is recommended that baby sleeps in a cot by your bed for the first 6 months to reduce the risk of cot death). There is a whole list of social-economical reasons for children that are born into better educated and/or loving, caring and stable families to do better than children born into neglect, abuse and poverty. I think they are comparing two extremes and trying to justify why it’s either their way or you must be a terrible parent guilty of child abuse and neglect.

    Basically, i think every parent should, and mostly all parents do, love and care for their children, be understanding and empathetic, teach them right from wrong and to help them to learn at home and at school. That’s basically the definition of good parenting.

    But the things i hate most about most attachment parenting advocates is that they are notorious for spreading fear mongering misinformation such as anti-vaccination propaganda which is very dangerous to public health.

  • Carla

    The idea of AP parenting seemed attractive to me until I became acquainted with the community surrounding it. It seems to me those are lost souls needing a place to belong. I tend to see a lot of those at church too (with all due respect and NEVER generalizing). The first thing that tipped me off with the AP parents I started following (blogs and twitter) was their language. Often times I’d read things like “It’s been four months since I gave birth. I’m so proud of myself. I feel like I can do anything” lots of ‘I’ there and very little about the baby. “I cloth diaper exclusively.” instead of “My baby wears cloth diapers.” Or “I’ve been breastfeeding for 8 months now and I love it.” Again I, I, I, never about the baby. They also seem to have an obsession with how people are against BF in public. I see far more often posts about it than about how healthy it is for the baby to be breastfed. Those things started standing out to me and I started wondering what really mattered for those people. That’s when I stopped checking the blogs and started paying more attention to my children.

    When I first brought my second baby home, I held her a lot. She had a brief stay at NICU, and I felt like she needed the extra hug for the less the comfortable first days she had. She pretty much slept the whole time. As she grew older, past four weeks, she started becoming fussy and fussy and I’d hold and rock and walk and wrap and nurse a forever fussy baby. One day I was sitting with her fussing in my arms and I noticed that she kept pushing her arms and legs against me. I put her down to check her diaper thinking maybe that she was trying to poop. She promptly stretched her limbs and quieted down. She laid quietly and content on the floor looking from side to side stretching and moving for about 30 min and started crying making suction movements with her mouth telling me she was hungry. That was all she wanted, to be able to stretch. Now I put her down and she’ll even quietly fall asleep after a while all stretched out. I guess holding her was much more comforting to me than it actually was to her.

  • stephanwhite

    I’d swear that I read somewhere before that Attachment Parenting Causes Autism…..


    Media Monitoring

  • AP is supposed to be about the kids. It’s supposed to be about valuing the bond between child and parents and doing what it takes to foster that bond. (Which sounds like most parents to me) Yes, breastfeeding, cosleeping, and babywearing are suggested, but even Dr Sears says that it’s better to follow the cues of the child. If they aren’t thriving with these methods, use something else. It’s become a laundry list of required behaviors used to impress the other AP parents. I’ve read so many times that the child isn’t loving cosleeping, nursing, or being carried in a sling and all the other parents suggest forcing them to do it anyway.

  • Meerkat

    I had an interesting exchange with Kellymom.com recently, right in line with this post. I used Kellymom.com ( it is a BF site that touts evidence based information) to look up breastfeeding info for the past few months, things like remedies for sore nipples, oversupply, clogged ducts, etc. The info seemed really complete and useful. A couple of days ago I wanted to ask them a question about the smell of my thawed milk- I have quite a stash in my freezer, and wanted to donate it to a friend who cannot BF. The thawed milk smells funny, so I wanted to ask if there was a way to tell if it spoiled. I joined Kellymom Facebook group, spoke to several people about my milk. Then I got sucked into reading other people’s posts…. and dear baby Jesus….. One woman was terribly torn, her husband wanted her to wean their baby, it’s been 14 months after all. Just as she convinced her husband to wait a little (or a lot) longer, her doctor became very adamant about starting her on her diabetes medication again. So she was asking other moms for advice. The answers perplexed me. They were all consoling her, because what could be worse than weaning? I almost wrote that she should wean and start medication, because her son needed his mommy to be around and be healthy, then thought better of it. Quite a few moms were postingthat their older 1-2 year olds were waking up all night long asking to nurse, eating very little and falling esleep at the breast. Jeez, I thought. We were going throughout this when my son turned 4 months. I didn’t want for this problem to continue, so I sleep trained. I used Dr. Weissbluth’s method, and happily advised one mom to use it. I explained that it wasn’t just about CIO, but creating a sleep and nap schedule, routines, learning to recognize tired signs, among other things. I thought I actually helped someone, but then… more and more posters were commenting how Kellymom.com did not support sleep training, and I shouldn’t post about it. The sites administrator chimed in, saying that any sleep training comments will be erased. It was bad, harmful, and not in line with their philosophy. One outraged mommy wrote that adults may wake up multiple times per night, but can readjust their blanket, get a sip of water, etc. Babies can’t do that, so they need their mommy to soothe them to sleep!!! I answered that she made my point! The whole point of sleep training is to teach your baby how soothe himself back to sleep instead of calling mommy over to do it for him! I understand being against CIO, but why would you oppose sleep schedule, bedtime and nap routines, and majority of things that make up sleep training? Isn’t it better to have a rested baby?
    I decided to find out, and read Kellymom post on sleep. Wow. This is why I won’t use this site anymore or recommend it to anyone. They basically say that your baby will sleep eventually, because its a developmental milestone. Yup.Try saying that to my friend with a 4 year old who refuses to sleep alone. Or another friend with an 8 year old who still has sleeping problems after years of co- sleeping. Just co- sleep and breastfeed for as long as you can. I suppose you baby will self wean and sleep through the night eventually- they might want to go to college or get a job (snarky sarcasm.)
    The saddest part is that some women on in the group would really benefit from sleep training, they sound really exhausted and desparate. Oh well. I am no longer a member of that tribe!

  • Jesse

    I think many of the articles posted by Dr. Tatuer bring to light very important questions but are still inherently divisive in their tone. What we need is cooperation on both sides, and a Doctor like Dr. Tatuer who sees the shortfalls and dangers but can quiet the storm so that people can actually be encouraged to think more deeply on these issues. I see ways in which many of my choices are about me and about my daughter, and with hindsight ways in which some of the choices I have made were more about me than her. It is important to remember that mom is half of a very important relationship and should prioritize her own needs (within reason being key) so that she is happy and mentally healthy and able to care for her child(ren). I just don’t think we make much progress when we vilify less educated moms who are at least trying to do what they think is right or best. On the flip side of the less educated pool of moms you have those that care less about their pregnancy, the child, diet, discipline, education, etc.

  • Charl

    many aspects of “attachment parenting” benefit my baby, not me. i’d rather not be breastfeeding anymore, for example, but it’s good for my babe and she wants it. i didn’t find cloth diapering to be a pain or any more time consuming than other laundry (well, I only did it part-time). You didn’t touch on “elimination communication” but thanks to that philosophy my baby was out of diapers at 17 months, saving us money, not to mention saving us from making more garbage with disposables. Why is there something wrong with caring about the environment by using cloth diapers or not wanting formula/chemicals in our babies’ bodies? Since when is that such a horrible thing to try to do what’s best for mom, baby, and earth? I guess I’ve gone onto a kind of tangent here, but to me it’s just so strange that a reaction of many people to the notion of being an earth-lover is to roll their eyes and act like that is somehow stupid. anyway, like I said. I’d rather not be breastfeeding; i’d rather my baby not co-sleep, but she sleep so soundly in my bed next to me. A lot of these things are good for the baby. I don’t go around bragging about any of this–trust me. I don’t even want to mention to people that I still breastfeed my toddler because people are so weird about breastfeeding, despite that it is completely natural and normal. anyway. I have never labelled myself as an “attachment parent” although I practiced/practice baby wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, holding her. I also use a stroller; she sleeps in her bed sometimes; she eats lots of nutritious food, too, and sometimes cow’s milk, too. I think it’s finding a balance, and it just feels NATURAL and RIGHT to PICK UP A CRYING BABY. Doesn’t it???

    • A lot of these things are good for the baby.

      Maybe. But then that implies that not doing them is BAD for the baby – and I think that is debatable. You also imply that mothers who don’t do what you do are likely to ignore a crying baby – but why should that be the case?

      I think I was a kind of closet AP mother, at least in approach if not to the letter – possibly before Sears got around to making it fashionable. I did what worked for me on the whole – maybe unwillingly influenced a bit by reading (mis reading?) Bowlby and ending up feeling guilty and rather miserable at his insistence on such a high level of maternal responsibility.

      A baby who is formula fed doesn’t pine for the breast I don’t think, and not all babies cry for hours when put down in a crib. Doubt they care much what covers their bottoms, either. So is this REALLY about what is best for the child?

    • Poogles

      “I have never labelled myself as an “attachment parent” although I practiced/practice baby wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, holding her.”

      I feel like you either didn’t read the post very carefully or misunderstood it, since it is all about “the current penchant for creating identity around specific parenting choices, also known as parental tribalism”, not really the specific parenting practices. If you, personally, do not construct your identity based on which parenting choices you make, the post doesn’t really apply to you. You sound like you use what works for you, and leave it at that – which is just parenting, no need to construct a specific identity around it.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      i’d rather not be breastfeeding anymore, for example, but it’s good for my babe

      Wait, are you talking about your daughter who was potty trained at 17 mos?

      Because if you are, then this is pretty debatable. No, it’s not like it’s _bad_ for her or anything, but there is no basis for claiming that it is necessarily good for her, either. She would be just as well without it.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      17 months is a normal time for a child to be potty trained, especially girls. You do not need some method, just common sense.

    • Carla

      Interesting that it’s about what’s good for the child but a lot of your arguments were about what’s good for earth…. I always wondered what cloth diapering had to do with attachment. I’m an early childhood education specialized in infant care and one thing I’ve observed in this field something that is good for one baby is not necessarily good for the next. But like someone else said, the problem discussed in this post is not the practices of AP but the behavior of AP parents that sometimes bother on religious fanatism. I’m sure they are all well intentioned. They just don’t realize that their baby can actually tell them what they need (like Dr. Sears himself said follow the cues of the child) if you spend enough time working with him/her trying to figure it out instead of worrying so much about following guidelines/rules and about what others do or don’t or how they feel about how YOU raise YOUR child.

  • observer

    Honestly, my whole problem with the AP thing is that it appears to be a total pseudo-scientific scam. Ok, maybe not a scam, but definitely mostly bullshit. The guy who wrote the book is a pediatrician, but his “system” is based on personal anecdote (his family), cherry-picked stats and data (what there is of it), and what seems like a bunch of idiosyncratic personal opinions. It is laughable that people equate it with attachment theory as it is commonly understood and studied in Psychology.

    I guess, if you were really dumb, you could look at Harlow’s (decades old) monkey studies and come to the conclusion “Babies cling to warm mommies! This must be why those non-civilized mommies use slings! This is how good mommy! Slings, always!” I’m no psychologist or expert in child development, but I’m sure anyone who actually IS–I mean, someone with a PhD, not someone who reads blogs–could back me up on how silly and facile Dr. Sears’ version of attachment theory is compared to the real thing.

    I mean, seriously, he makes sweeping generalizations about parenting as it is “traditionally” practiced–but why should anyone believe what he says about this? He’s not an anthropologist, sociologist or historian. How is he any sort of expert on cross-cultural traditions of parenting? Besides, a sociologist, anthropologist, or historian would be able to tell you that

    a) the idea of static, “traditional” cultures is nonsense and rooted in racist ideas about “noble savages”

    b) child-rearing practices are much too varied across both region and time*** to make any grand generalizations about some universal, primal method of child-rearing

    c) you have to be very careful about imposing your own cultural biases on the past and/or practices of cultures you are not a part of (hmm, perhaps, your conservative, Christian old white man biases) and

    d) it is so, SO obviously a modern fad, one that will look as dated and reflective of the values and anxieties of its time as parenting advice to never hug or pick up your babies from the 1940s

    You may like some of the practices he endorses–like, cloth diapering, or baby-wearing. It may WORK for you. But don’t pretend that it’s actually a legitimate, enlightened, evidence-based SYSTEM of parenting. (As if you could even come up with such a thing!) I just don’t see where this guy gets his authority and why he’s treated with such reverence. It kind of baffles me that otherwise intelligent people are suckered in by this dude.

    ***And WITHIN a culture. My friend is an anthropologist that studies pre-contact and contemporary Inuit people. He told me that, sure, they have an ancient tradition of baby-wearing. But they also have a tradition of very casual informal adoption, where you give your babies away to other people if you end up with more kids than you can feed. But, you know, Noble Savage ATTACHED 4EVER!!!11!!

    • Becky05

      Yup, all this. You nailed it.

    • Kara

      Oh man. Totally nailed it.

  • Natalie

    I read an article yesterday about a woman who co-sleeps with her eight year old son.
    coincidentally I watched “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” later that night. Some strong similarities.
    Co-sleeping at the age of eight years old isn’t about providing comfort to the child, it’s the mother showing dependency for her son. This puts her son in an unnatural and unfair role of being responsible for his mothers comfort, happiness and needs… at age eight.
    Poor kid.

  • mearcatt

    they really should rename attachment parenting to “attachment mothering” as my experience with those who practice it leave dads way behind. it’ like it is there only to serve the extreme and unhealthy needs of mothers to be close to their children, versus children wanting to be close to their parents (mothers)

    • Not necessarily so (though too often you are right). I am an AP dad, as are the Dr.’s Sears. Their books have a lot of advice about fathering. There is a blog I like called Natural Papa you might check out as well.

  • anon

    When my oldest daughter was born, I was knocked square on my butt by postpartum hormones. For whatever reason, “babywearing” (ugh, hate that term) helped with a lot of the hormonal symptoms, mostly the emotional ones (especially anxiety; again, I cannot tell you why, maybe someone else can). I kind of wonder how much of AP is satisfying those needs in other people? And, I mean, stuff like babywearing is harmless…until you use it as a weapon against other parents, or a way to make yourself believe you’re a better parent than everyone else.

    oh, and I cloth diaper too, but that is because I am thrifty and also a gigantic nerd.

    • Awesomemom

      Not trying to be sarcastic but I am curious about the connection of cloth diapering with being a nerd.

      • Mrs. W

        I’m a nerd and use ‘sposies….but maybe that’s because I’m lazy.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        You might be a nerd if…

        You have fuzzy dice hanging from your rearview mirror, but they are 20-sided

        You watch The Big Bang Theory to try to find errors on the equations in the background

        All your friends send you science jokes because they think you will find them funny, but in reality, you just think they are dumb (and scientifically wrong)

        • Mac Sherbert

          “You watch The Big Bang Theory to try to find errors on the equations in the background.” — lol

        • MikoT
        • Carla

          There is great debates in the differences of being a nerd and being a geek. But some say real nerds watch Community and despise The Big Bang Theory

          • theNormalDistribution

            I have this argument with my spouse all the time. Apparently we’re both in the intersection of the two. My spouse thinks language evolves and has completely reversed the meanings or uses them interchangeably and has no problem with it. But most articles you find when you google ‘geek vs nerd’ fit my defintions. so I win. And OH GAWD do we ever hate the Big Bang Theory. I could go on an on about why that show is stupid.

      • Charlotte

        I’m curious too. I am a clother diaper user and a nerd, but I never thought to connect the two. Unless there are diapers out there with Batman on them that I don’t know about. Or is that more geek?

        • CarolynTheRed

          Well, I bought one of these:

          • Awesomemom

            That is too cute! I see cute diapers like that and it makes me want to go back to cloth diapering… and then I look at my massive laundry pile and I throw a disposable diaper on my toddler.

          • Becky05

            I keep talking about going back to cloth, but my husband protests. It did drive me a bit crazy, disposables are just so much simpler. You don’t have to think about it.

          • thepragmatist

            With you right there, that’s for sure!

          • slandy09

            My husband isn’t fond of the diapers with prints, but maybe he can make an exception for that one…he has a degree in math 😉

          • melindasue22

            I just bought that pattern for my daughter! I couldn’t resist.

    • theadequatemother

      I was in the pet store and saw this “anxiety” jacket for dogs…it was basically a close fitting/ tight/ doggy jacket. I am also reminded of swaddling. I would think that babywearing would also have that soothing mild compression feeling.

      • LibrarianSarah

        Did anyone else think of Temple Grandon when they red this comment or was it just me?

        • Susan

          I did.

        • GiddyUpGo123

          Me too

    • Carla

      I too despise the ter babywearing, it’s incredibly disrespectful to the child. But according to most AP parents, ‘it’s no big deal’ since the baby can’t really complain about it. I know parents who say they wear their babies aren’t accessorizing but it sure sounds like it when they use that term.

  • Allie P

    Honestly, it’s not my thing, but why fuel the mommy wars? I don’t think most AP practices are actively dangerous, even if they are alienating. so whatevs.

    • thepragmatist

      I’m not so sure. I think they prevent the normal development of a child. It seems to me that the most hardcore AP parents don’t really understand attachment theory and they also don’t understand child development very well. So they are still parenting their 2 year old like an infant and it’s frustrating to watch! The kind of intensive mothering that AP demands can cause PPD and insecure attachment in the baby. Not to mention the pressure it puts on mothers to sacrifice an over-abundance of time to child-rearing.

      • Yes, I would tend to agree with you in terms of what AP has morphed into online. Not so with my trusty “AP Classic” though!

      • AmyP

        Plus, parenting time and resources are limited, and if you are misallocating your time and resources, you can’t do other stuff that would be good for your kids.

        • fiftyfifty1

          I, personally, am not very worried that if parents “misallocate their time and resources” the kids will miss out. Kids pretty much progress through development whether or not you try to enhance their development as long as their living situation isn’t some sort of wasteland. What I’m concerned about is that parents (especially moms) are wasting their OWN time.

          • fiftyfifty1

            And let me be clear, I don’t mean that I’m worried about staying at home (unless a parent is doing it because they feel they “should”). I mean all of us as parents, both SAH and with outside jobs. There is too much cultural handwringing because of this belief that parents need to TRY HARD and DO IT RIGHT or else the kid will be permanently stunted. I wonder if Benjamin Franklins parents fretted about misallocating their parenting efforts. I don’t think so.

          • Mac Sherbert

            “Kids pretty much progress through development whether or not you try to enhance their development as long as their living situation isn’t some sort of wasteland.”

            So true…I didn’t put my second child down for tummy time a lot because my first child did everything early. I knew the sooner this child was mobile the more work for me. (Plus, it was kind of dangerous with the first jumping around like a super hero!) My plan failed. Even without the tummy time the second child rolled both ways at 13 weeks.

          • me

            A lot of that has to do with the particular child, not how much tummy time they have. My oldest never crawled, just scooted around on her bottom, tripod style, and waled at 13 mos. My second crawled at 5 mos, walked by 8 mos (god that sucked, lol). My third child is almost 9 mos and still hasn’t crawled despite plenty of opportunity. Some of it is just personality… they follow their own timetables regardless of what we do/don’t do (std disclaimer – obviously neglectful/abusive practices stunt development, but that’s not what I’m referring to here).

          • me

            lol… walked, not waled

  • suchende

    My in-laws are from a developing nation, and like many of their friends, they came to this country to give their children a better chance, even though they were successful professionals “back home.” One of their cohort had a daughter who recently dropped out of a prestigious college, sending her father into a bit of an emotionally difficult time, and leading him to question if giving up his good life back home was a terrible mistake.

    When I read about these “100% moms” I wonder if they are setting themselves up for disappointment.

  • CDN Guest

    Amen.

  • Mrs. W

    So becoming a parent is like going to high school all over again where in order to succeed socially you must resign to belonging in a clique? No wonder I had to leave my mother’s group….

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      It’s pretty strange. On one hand, parents invented the line, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, it doesn’t mean you have to, too” but if all the other parents you know are doing it, then you better do it so that you can fit in.

    • TheHappyPappy

      High school never ends!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrxI_euTX4A

      Sorry, sometimes music just expresses what I’m trying to say so much better than I can. 🙂

    • thepragmatist

      Me too!

  • It’s human nature to want to identify with others who are similar in terms of things like race, religion, political affiliation and lifestyle choice. However, doing this at the expense of others who don’t share those similarities is not acceptable as far as I’m concerned. I don’t mean to make myself sound like a saint. I’ve
    certainly made my share of judgments that have hurt or offended people. And,
    there is a time to judge (or at least speak up against) those that are causing
    harm. In cases where peoples choices are just different rather than harmful, I do try and remind myself as much as I can that the world doesn’t actually revolve around my opinions, I can be the one in the wrong, and even when it’s others who are “wrong” I should still try and respect them as people with minds of their own even if I don’t respect or understand their beliefs (easier said than done I know).

    I guess I am fortunate because I learned to get along with people on the opposite side of the fence early on. I have all types of people among my family
    and close friends. My family includes stay at home moms and working moms, breast feeders and formula feeders, vegans and meat eaters, atheists and evangelicals, democrats and republicans. I don’t mean to make it sound like some kind of kumbaya utopia. It’s not. But, luckily it is a group of adults who,
    despite battling it out on Facebook over various topics, can all get together
    and enjoy each others company at the family reunions and somehow make it
    work. Sure there can sometimes be tension among those that share opposing views. Sometimes people on both sides just have to swallow their pride and go along to get along. Personally, I consider this worthwhile if it means preserving relationships with people I care about. I know I am very, very, very lucky because some people’s families are not so accepting. This is the reason that the people that I’m most intolerant of are others who display extreme intolerance (hypocritical maybe?). I hate to think of others losing family or friends over situations that in the end really don’t matter. I have sometimes been judged by my family (what mother doesn’t use guilt on her kids at least sometimes?). But, reacting to the guilt by putting it back others won’t change that. Personally, I feel that diversity of thought is part of what makes life interesting and, yes, also very frustrating at times. But, at the end of the day I wouldn’t want to live in a world full of people who thought and acted the exact same way I do.

    Ps. I really hope this doesn’t come across as too preachy. Like I said, I’m very far from perfect and I’m willing to admit I often fail to live up to my own standards of open minded tolerance. Like my mom is fond of saying “it’s about progress, not perfection!” I think she got that from a self-help book 🙂

    Pss. I also recently found out that I am expecting. So I’m looking forward to having the chance to “ruin” my little one’s life with my parenting techniques—whatever they turn out to be 🙂

    • GuestB

      Congratulations!

    • Congrats!

      • Very diplomatic of you to congratulate a future koolaid feeding, car seat carrying “main stream” mom.

  • Elle

    I definitely notice that those I know who gravitate toward the “AP” label tend to be insecure (and by “gravitate” I mean proselytize). Honestly though, there are many aspects “natural parenting” that I gladly participate in: nursing, cloth diapering, etc. but it’s because I believe they’re best for OUR family, not because we need a label.

    Reminds me of the joke “How do you know if someone at your dinner party is vegan?” “Don’t worry, they’ll let you know.” Same deal… you can follow whatever diet you choose, but when you become an evangelist for it, it’s become part of your identity (and is also really annoying).

    • I’m not vegan or even vegetarian, but your implication that vegans should chuck their diet aside when invited to a gathering is troubling to me.

      • LovleAnjel

        You didn’t get the joke, did you?

        • EastCoaster

          Nope, he didn’t get the joke.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Who said anything about chucking their diet aside?

      • kumquatwriter

        Alan, you are an amazing stick in the mud. It was a joke about how damn vocal SOME vegans (or similarly restricted diet followers) are. FFS.

        • Certified Hamster Midwife

          Yeah, like the opposite of vegans: paleo eaters. You’re gonna hear about it.

          • Something From Nothing

            People who follow paleo are like bible thumpers in my experience.

          • Durango

            I find most discussions of one’s diet extremely tedious.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Me too, simply because I am tired of hearing how “alive” any diet makes someone feel.

          • Lori

            Lol, well I am having amazing success on the Founding Forefather’s Diet! (Joke courtesy of 30 Rock.)

      • Susan

        Ok Alan, roadmap here, how do you know if someone at the table is a Republican? Don’t worry, they’ll let you know. ( Insert your favorite blowhard for whoever is the dinner guest)

    • lacrima

      Ah yes, the vegan evangelist. I am familiar with the species. Couldn’t care less about their dietary choices and I am perfectly happy to cater to their requirements at gatherings, but they are often really, really annoying. I did get quite stroppy when I overheard one of them wondering if my food was ‘safe’ to eat, since they were concerned that I might have contaminated it with animal products, on purpose. I thought it was pretty damned rude, since they always contaminated their contributions with chickpeas and as a partial Pythagorean, I have major ideological issues with the consumption of legumes.

  • TiffanyEpiphany

    Dr. Amy, thank you for your insights on this subject.

    Yes, there’s a deeper issue to AP and parental tribalism, homebirth included, that suggests not only that AP people desire to ostracize others who make different choices in an effort to defend their own “right” choices, but that also suggests that the desire to participate in the AP lifestyle is really a symptom of something more problematic.

    Fragile self-esteem? Unhealthy fear? Co-dependence? Back in the day when I was considering homebirth, these three issues were my driving forces behind wanting to do what was “best” (admittedly, best for me and NOT my baby) so that I could feel superior and in control of things. Others may have different driving forces, but I think it is true that we all have something in common: the need to promote our security and sense of belonging, whether or not our choices are actually safe (physically, emotionally, mentally) for our children.

    Thank you for opening my eyes and for continuing to write insightfully about parental tribalism.

  • yentavegan

    I did AP the right way. I schlepped my cotton wearing cloth diapered co-sleeping free ranging brood with me everywhere. We went to public parks in the rain, hiked in the woods near our condo, hung our clothes on a laundry line, traveled en-mass to museums in the city. We danced to grateful dead boot leg cd’s. We breastfed way past the time frame of anyone else I knew.
    Guess what? My kids grew-up and became best friends with formula fed full time working mothers offspring. My kids ate junk food in their friends homes, watched tv in their friends bedrooms and “gasp” my daughters learned to shave their legs in someone elses’ bathroom.
    I am best buds with women who mothered differently and I have respect for the choices they have made. Everyone’s kids turned out great.

    • TiffanyEpiphany

      Good for you, but I think your first sentence reveals one of the points that Dr. Amy is making…that AP people think that there’s a “right” way to do what they do (what’s wrong with just saying that the parenting choices you made were right for your family, situation, and mutual desires?), when in reality, this sense of “rightness” about their choices is exactly what reveals a sort of insecurity behind parenting choices, which are really about the parent and not so much about the child. But good for you, though, you get the gold star for doing AP right. See? All about you in the end.

      • theadequatemother

        I think yentavegan is being a bit um….sarcastic in her first sentence. At least, that is how I read it, being familiar with the tone and content of her other comments on this blog.

        • TiffanyEpiphany

          Fair enough. My apologies to yentavegan.

          • yentavegan

            i figured you’d pick up on my snark , I was responding to Alan’s observation that most parents don’t do AP the right way.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            And, for that, I THANK YOU! 🙂

    • TiffanyEpiphany

      Yentavegan, I gave my apologies below but figured I should reply directly to you with them. I skipped right over your sarcasm, so I’m sorry that I responded to you as if your were serious.

    • Sue

      LOL at ” hung our clothes on a laundry line” – this is mainstream in Oz

  • Lisa from NY

    OT, but can someone tell me if it is true that IVF with ICSI increases the odds of having a Down’s Syndrome baby? Also, why didn’t my doctor tell me?

    http://www.nhs.uk/news/2011/07July/Pages/ivf-fertility-treatment-downs-syndrome.aspx

    • My response to that would be that mothers who choose IVF are often of advanced maternal age, defined as 35 and older. Being of advanced maternal age dramatically increases odds of having a downs syndrome baby. So it may be less due to IVF, but more to the population that is choosing IVF.

    • anonymous

      I believe that the doctors count the chromosomes before implantation in IVF. Maybe someone here can confirm?

      • Lisa from NY

        They can do pre-implantation testing, but it costs more and reduces the success rates of IVF.

        You have an embryo, and let’s say it is 8 cells, they take two cells off, so now your embryo is only 6 cells and less viable. My doctor does not do it unless there are clear genetic factors.

  • I’d swear that I read somewhere before that Attachment Parenting Causes Autism…..

    • Lisa from NY

      Does IVF increase the chances of autism? Please someone tell me if it’s true or not.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614122026.htm

      • My answer is going to be the same as above: autism is another condition linked with advanced maternal age, and IVF parents are often choosing IVF because they are of advanced maternal age.

      • anonymous

        You should review your risks and consent forms with your physician. This is all stuff they go over as a routine pre-IVF workup. It does increase, slightly, the risks of birth defects (and, as Chelsea Frost notes, women of advanced maternal age have increased risk of having a baby with autism). Nevertheless, the overall risk is still small.

      • Doesn’t seem to be a question of whether it is “true” – it may or may not increase the risk of “mild to moderate” autism.

        Following that link, it also claims that prematurity and low birth weight increase the risk – but given that both of those increase the risk of neurological problems anyway it just adds to my confusion about autism diagnosis in general. Is it usual to do an MRI as part of the diagnostic procedures? How, precisely, does one differentiate autism from other causes of developmental problems? Someone the other day implied that it might be caused by problems in brain development in the first trimester – which as far as I know are quite distinct from the problems caused at later gestations, and more likely to be genetic in origin.

        • Kristen

          The latest research seems to be pointing to epigenetic changes in the first trimester IIRC but there is no one cause of autism. Autism can occur when a fetus is exposed to rubella, for instance, but not in the third trimester.

          An MRI is *not* part of the regular diagnosis of ASD as far as I know (from my experience). The diagnosis is based on behavior and the timing of developmental milestones. “Autism” is a blanket term for a specific set of developmental delays regardless of the cause.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Let’s grant for a minute that, yes, IVF causes an increase in the rate of autism. Let’s say by a bigger amount, call it 50% (iow, an ivf child is 50% more likely to have autism than a non-ivf child). I don’t know that it’s true, but let’s grant it for a minute.

            And?

            What is the alternative? If you want a baby that bad, and need to resort to IVF, then will an increased risk of autism really make a difference? I know, there are people who are on the edge of whether deciding to do it, and this is information (and no doubt, it is information that should be presented), but if you are investing so much to do IVF, will you really be deterred by this?

            I’m proposing very few will.

          • Lisa from NY

            Thanks for the replies.

            The alternative is adoption, which costs as much as two IVFs. That’s why I am debating the issue. I don’t care whether or not the child is biologically mine.

            Thanks for giving me what to think about.

          • anonymous

            Given the population available to be adopted, your chances of adopting a child with autism have to be at least as high as giving birth to a child with autism via IVF, if not higher.

          • Natalie

            You can also do embryo adoption. It was something I was looking into because adoption is so expensive and egg donor IVF is wayyyy beyond that.
            It’s really unfortunate that so many good homes would love to adopt children who need them but the barrier of cost is too high.

      • Kristen

        If you’re considering IVF and are worried about the implications please speak with your doctor. If your not happy with the level of information he/she is giving you I’m sure you can find another doctor who will meet your needs better. Having a baby is risky. There are uncountable things that can go wrong; the majority of the time nothing goes wrong. The best you can do is minimize risks as much as possible and let the cards fall where they may.

        Every child is born with unique needs. Being a parent means meeting those needs come what may. If you want to be a parent and IVF is the only way to make that happen try to find a doctor you trust and forbid yourself from obsessing about possible complications.

        This is advice from a mother of two children with ASDs who would not change a thing. I’m not a martyr and I would give anything to make life easier for them but they bring me so much happiness and I’m privileged to be their mother.

        • kumquatwriter

          Not to mention “autism” isn’t a single on/off disorder! Nor is it automatically “bad!” Particularly given that ASD (that’s autism SPECTRUM disorder) is often correlated with high intelligence – as is ADHD, OCD, Tourettes, sensory integration disorder…
          Not everyone with “autism” is rain man.

          • VeritasLiberat

            Representin’!

      • LibrarianSarah

        My mom didn’t have IVF and I am still autistic. Chances are their could be a correlation due to advanced maternal/paternal age but I doubt causation.

    • anonymous

      Lol Chelsea Frost!

      • I ain’t gonna lie: I have been waiting for a chance to use that line. Thank you, Dr Amy!

  • quadrophenic

    You’ve got it all wrong, no one is that obsessed with their own parenting choices as to form an entire identity based upon it to the extent that they brag about their methods every chance they get. 😉

    ~~*** Pampers diapering, formula feeding, jarred non-organic baby food purchasing, stroller pushing, vaccinating, fluoridated water using, CIO training, working mommy of one!! 8 months bottle feeding – [===} [===} Bronze Bottles!!!! ***~~

    • lacrima

      Sing it, sister!

      • KarenJJ

        Those sigs are all about the mums, aren’t they? By the time you get to two or more kids, you should have quite the range of signatures.

        Kid 1 would have an entirely different set of parenting choices in their list than Kid 2 got. One took a dummie, another wouldn’t, one was breastfed/comp fed and the other was formula fed, one took well to controlled crying for sleep training and the other it just made her increasingly anxious and distressed.

        Very different kids, same parents and different choices made depending upon circumstances and temperament.

        Attachment parenting was a missed opportunity to bring choices to parents. Instead it added dogma and a layer of morality to parenting. The vast majority of parents I know tried a little from column A and a little from column B and went with what caused the least crying (for everyone).

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I know that I tend to be as obnoxious about my kids as anyone, but when I boast on my kids, I boast on MY KIDS, and what they do, not what I am doing.

      I keep thinking of the comment one time about a woman who’s trip pictures were all showing her “baby wearing” in all these different places. When I show pictures or videos of trips with the kids, it is of the kids doing things, and mom or dad may or may not be with them. The kids running on the beach, or building sandcastles.

    • Awesomemom

      I can’t be friends with a Pampers using mom. Everyone knows that Huggies are the one true diaper.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Luv’s Rules!

        • Becky05

          Argh. Luvs stink. Literally. And they droop so badly, and my kids have managed to leak right through the cover. . .

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Luvs stink. Literally.

            That’s not the Luvs, it’s what’s in it.

            You Pampers and Huggies users act like your kids’ poop don’t stink

          • Becky05

            No, they smell awful before use. And the perfume triggers migraines for me. I just can’t love Luvs.

            (Actually, right now I’m not loving any diaper. I’m irritated at all of them.)

          • quadrophenic

            I’ve never used Luvs, are they really perfumed? I also get migraines from perfumes and strong smells. Pampers and Huggies don’t have a very noticeable smell.

          • Becky05

            Yes, Luvs do have an added fragrance, but so do Pampers. Luvs is just much smellier, in my opinion.

          • quadrophenic

            I thought baby poop smelled like buttermilk. Are you saying Dr. Sears lied to me?!?

      • Victoria

        I was going to ‘like’ this and then I realised I don’t even know what kind of diapers I use. I just know the colour of the box. Clearly I can read but I just don’t seem to be good at getting ‘branded’ – so whomever has the green and yellow box – I guess I am on your side?

        • Awesomemom

          You seem to be a Pampers person because Huggies have red and white boxes and have Mickey mouse on them.

          • Victoria

            I must be – we don’t get Mickey, we have Sesame Street characters. Maybe you win . . . 🙂 I just kept using the same diapers that they gave us at the hospital. Total sheeple.

          • quadrophenic

            Pampers are Sesame Street. BIG BIRD 4 LYF OVER HERE.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And see, this is the beauty of Luv’s. They don’t have any fancy famous brand name characters on them (just purple monkeys) and so you don’t have to pay the premium for it. That alone is probably half the reason why Luvs are cheaper.

          • I think that’s what we get too. Yup, checked Amazon and we get “Luvs with Ultra Leakguards”, size 3 and 6. They seem to work just fine to me!

          • quadrophenic

            See, I’m not a monkey fan. They’re neat but gross. I’ll pay the premium to avoid monkeys.

          • Awesomemom

            My kids would have actually preferred Sesame Street over Micky Mouse since they are huge fans of the show. For awhile my eldest son called Mickey Mouse Poopy Mouse.

      • theadequatemother

        Is there some wiggle room on brand of wipes tho?

        • quadrophenic

          Costco wipes for me! Seriously I bonded with a woman in line once over wipes. Clearly we are in the Kirkland Wipes tribe.

          • GuestB

            There are no better wipes than Kirkland. NONE. My kids are out if diapers and I still buy them. I swear they remove stains.

          • AmyM

            Hahaha! We use BJs for wipes (still) and diapers (before potty training)….best prices, and good quality. Even though my children are long out of diapers, those wipes are great to have around. And diapers…we never really had any blowout issues, though after a point, maybe around 4-5mos, we did have to get specific Overnights, which were only sold in name-brand.

            Oddly, we bought Target brand diapers once, because were were there, and both boys got red irritated skin around the edges. Never happened with any other diaper brand, generic or otherwise.

            Anyway, if we had Costco instead of BJs nearby, I’d be all about the Kirkland wipes too. 🙂

          • auntbea

            BJ’s diapers really are the best. Furrealz.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            Oh agreed! I like how thick they are, how they’re packaged, and the price. The only downfall is they are NOT good on sore little butts. When my girl gets a rash, it’s Pampers Sensitive all the way – trying a Costco wipe on her red butt made her scream so loud I’m sure all the neighbors heard.

          • GuestB

            Run them under warm water first…no more sting! My son used to get really bad diaper rash and that always did the trick. And they don’t fall apart when you do that, either. They are little miracle cloths, I swear.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            That.is.genius. So going to try that – thanks!

          • theadequatemother

            but what about us deep urbanites who *gasp* don’t have a costco less than an hour of traffic away? You are a big meenie discrimnatory bulk shopper and a horreeeeeeble person!

          • quadrophenic

            Costco has online ordering. Clearly you don’t love your child enough to drive far or order online.

          • Awesomemom

            No excuse! I have to drive a good long way into town for any shopping and am quite faithful to Costco. If you really wanted to be a true Costco lover you would make the sacrifice to get the very best for your family.

      • quadrophenic

        I have Huggies at the moment because they were on sale at Costco. Can we be friends until I run out?

        • I don’t have a creative name

          I love that people are actually voting down these posts about preferred diaper brands. Ha!!!

          • quadrophenic

            I think they’re LUVs users. 😉

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            As far as I can see, there is only one negative vote for each.

            It’s mine, of course.

            (but quadrophenic already knew that)

          • quadrophenic

            I don’t know whether to vote you up or down now!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            You should vote me up for voting everyone else down

        • Awesomemom

          I stock up when the sales are on, so not doing that just shows you are not truly committed to the Huggies brand.

      • LibrarianSarah

        When I buy diapers they’ll be Depends.

        • lacrima

          You owe me a new keyboard.
          Am now considering Depends for postnatal bleeding.
          Genius.

          • CarolynTheRed

            I did that. Well, off-brand Depends. They were perfect.

          • ratiomom

            Excellent idea!

    • Mamatotwo

      Words cannot describe how much I adore this response. Thank you!

  • I am not going to defend everyone who identifies as “AP”, because as I have said before I tend to think most of those I run into online with that label are “doing it wrong” as far as I’m concerned. I am however going to insist that I do very much parent with my kids’ welfare in mind.

    I want to focus on one specific piece of your blockquote, which you seem to implicitly endorse:

    “What is noticeable in contemporary mothers’ descriptions of their parenting experiences is that many feel stigmatised or assume a defensive stance about their parenting choices, even those apparently making officially sanctioned choices. For example, some breastfeeding mothers express the view that society still sees breastfeeding as abnormal, despite the fact that they are very much swimming with the tide of official advice…”

    Do you really think that “swimming with the tide of official advice” shields a person from social reprobation? Certainly that has not been my experience. Two examples:

    (1) When spending time with my relatives, I politely eschewed the white bread that was served, as well as some other items official advice recommends against eating, such as those containing partially hydrogenated oils. I also asked that my kids not be served these things. (I had brought along a stockpile of the healthier foods we eat at home for us to eat if need be, so I was not asking anyone to make us anything special.) From the reaction of my relatives, you would think I had done something incredibly vile and heinous. And this is not a group of “Honey Boo Boo” type people: I think the least educated among them is ABD.

    (2) My relatives are, at least, copacetic with breastfeeding. Not so my wife’s. We visited several members of her family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) at her grandparents’ condo when our daughter was four months old. When my wife started nursing her in a way I’d call reasonably discreet (but not using a blanket or “hooter hider”), it touched off a family scandal that still resonates to this day. Her aunts (her father’s much younger half-sisters from her grandfather’s second marriage), one of whom is a thirtysomething English professor at a private college, had been really her good buddies before that thanks to their relatively slight age difference and a number of similar interests. But this has pretty much destroyed their relationship beyond the basic politeness level.

    Any sociologist can tell you that there are social forces all around us that are much stronger than “official advice” or even laws.

    • quadrophenic

      You say that most people you run into online are “doing it wrong” in your mind… Isn’t this just a further example of the problems described by Dr. Amy? That you yourself are thinking other AP parents are “doing it wrong?” Dr. Amy isn’t knocking the specific parts of AP people adopt are bad per se, but that it’s ridiculous to assign so much importance on these practices rather than just doing what works for you and calling it “parenting.” I think you’re just further proving her point.

      Sadly yes there are some people in older generations or prudish backgrounds who are anti breastfeeding or anti public breastfeeding. But simply because those people exist don’t mean that the current attitude is very pro breastfeeding in America. Over 70% of women attempt breastfeeding – yes many don’t continue for a myriad of reasons but for that many to try it is pretty good evidence that most women and families are supportive of breastfeeding. Your relatives are the exception to the public attitude. But with all due respect it seems like the issues may be about your attitude regarding the superiority of your life choices over theirs rather than breaking with official advice, with the “polite” refusal of white bread and all.

      • My impression is that the general state of social mores in the U.S. is not as supportive of breastfeeding (particularly BFIP) as you think, not even among younger generations. Have you ever seen WolfMommy’s Twitter feed?

        https://twitter.com/Wolf_Mommy

        Day after day she finds people tweeting their disapproval of BFIP. She must have found thousands by now. She retweets them, and essentially “sics” her many followers on them (good on ’em, I say). But what I find telling is that the responses of the people she is “outing” are almost always the same: shock and outrage that anyone would take issue with what they have tweeted, often paired with insinuation that she and her followers are a bunch of freaks.

        My point is, if the culture were generally supportive of BFIP, people would be more reticent about publicly tweeting their disgust, and when they did do it they would get pushback from the people who follow them, not just from WolfMommy’s crowd who are responding to her retweets. They might be more sheepish about the things they say, and at least add mild caveats (even if they were lame, along the lines of “I’m not racist, but…”). But no: they are almost always adamant, unbowed.

        What we have instead is sort of an interesting situation (to step back and look at it dispassionately, from a social scientist POV) where the “official advice” and the laws (which protect BFIP almost everywhere) say one thing, but the deep cultural undercurrents say another, and aren’t going to give way so easily just because some pointy-headed bureaucrats say they should. That is a powerful curb on BFIP and thus BF more broadly (because formula feeders can feed their babies anywhere), so breastfeeding women are right to feel besieged, increasingly so as their babies get older (despite the “official advice” to breastfeed to a year or longer, even if not necessarily all the way to kindergarten as some on the extremes push it).

        On my relatives: yes, they feel insulted, that I am acting superiour, etc. But I think it would be quite different if I tried to tell them they should eat different food. I did not at all cross that line, just tried to have control over what I and my kids ate. If we had celiac disease, presumably they wouldn’t object to our not eating gluten. Even if we were vegetarian, I think that would be fine with them (some families would not feel that way). But refuse refined carbs, just because they generally promote poor health? No, can’t do that. There is a lot of diabetes in my family, and I’m trying to buck the trend and not get it myself. If I just didn’t bother and became diabetic, and THEN said “my doctor says I shouldn’t eat this”, then it would be fine! It makes no sense given the idea of “an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure”. (Okay, enough of that rant.)

        “Dr. Amy isn’t knocking the specific parts of AP people adopt are bad per se”

        I think maybe *you* are not doing that (which is great), and ascribing your own views to Dr. Amy. I get the impression she is actively hostile to pretty much all aspects of AP. But there’s not much point in the two of us debating what a third person thinks, LOL.

        • My impression is that the general state of social mores in the U.S. is not as supportive of breastfeeding

          That may well be the case, and if so it is, of course, a pity. But is insisting that BF is the cure for all ills and vilifying women who can’t or don’t want to the best way to change it?

          I don’t know if it is the same in the UK. What I do know is that there isn’t a whole lot of social support for parents of young children. It was my strong impression when mine were small that those who are free of young children would much prefer it if you never left the house.

          Maybe there are rather a lot of people who enjoy disapproving of the lifestyles or choices of other people, and that is a fact of life. It would be nice if it wasn’t so, but shouldn’t affect arguments about what is and isn’t safe, what is and isn’t necessary for health and wellbeing.

          • Ah, the “ch*ldfree” crowd. Yeah, they are real nasty pieces of work…I have tangled with them before.

          • Alenushka

            What? You are passing judgement base on people reproductive choices? I respect people who took a while to think and decided that parenting is not for them. Much better than scores of people breed mindlessly and than hate their lives.

          • Susan

            From what I have seen people who get into calling the rest of us breeders are pretty much another side of the same coin of having a really bizarre way of forming one’s identity.

          • You are proving my point with your invective against “breeders”.

          • Alenushka

            I am a breeder and proud of it, but I am also glad that there are many child free people. We all have different paths in life. IT is my child free colleagues who often were able to work a longer shift so I could go home to my kids on time. Now that my kids are older and my child free co workers need time to take care of their elderly parents, I am happy to cover.

          • And who will be taking care of them when they are very old? Not their children, obviously, but their peers’ children, whom they once sneeringly dismissed as “sprogs” or worse.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            I thought he meant the type of “childfree” that hate children and glare at yours for making one peep, not just people who merely don’t have kids.

          • Right. They are the ones who use that term “childfree”.

          • Poogles

            “Right. They are the ones who use that term “childfree”.”

            I have to disagree that all people who identify with the label “childfree” are people who “hate children and glare at yours for making one peep,” Alan. Certainly these type exist, and maybe even make up a large proportion of the group, but nowhere near all. There are plenty of people who choose not to have children and don’t like the term “childless” because of the connotation of the word that they are “missing” something, so they prefer “childfree”, and they could care less about what reproductive choices others make, and like children just fine.

          • I would think they would be hesitant to identify with that term, if it is widely adopted by people that could be called a hate group.

          • Poogles

            “I would think they would be hesitant to identify with that term, if it is widely adopted by people that could be called a hate group.”

            Well, personally, I don’t find that it is “widely adopted” by the type of people you describe (perhaps they are simply the most outspoken), and find no reason to abandon a label because some people who are assholes also identify with it. It’d be like me no longer calling myself a feminist because some misandrists also call themselves feminists.
            I also don’t think I’d classify the asshole childfree people as a “hate group”, seems like that’s going a bit far.

          • You haven’t seen their online forums then.

          • Poogles

            Well, would you be willing to no longer identify as AP, due to the extremism found on most AP parenting boards?

          • That’s a very fair point, touche (too lazy to find the accent aigu). But I like the Sears approach and that was first. It may be approaching time to abandon ship though…what term to use instead? Ooh, I know: “AP Classic”! 🙂

          • Dr Kitty

            Bwahahahaha
            Alan, have you just joined us from another planet? Have you no idea of how humanity works?

            People pick labels they like, and self define what that label means.
            They find others like the same label, but define it differently.
            Then people who self define using a label may disagree about what the label means, or may disagree with each other but agree that each is entitled to use the label.

            See “Liberal”, “Socialist”, ” Feminist” ,”Conservative” etc.

            See also “No True Scotsman” and ” People’s Front of Judea vs Judean People’s Front”.

            Basically, we like labels, but judging people by the labels they choose is something of a minefield.

          • There is “child free, by choice” and then there is “Childfree By Choice (CFBC).” Very different things.

          • Well, I would expect and disregard disdain from those who don’t much like children and have decided not to have any – but it was the older women who seemed to have forgotten what it was like to struggle with bored or tired or hungry small children who got up my nose most. Now I am myself older – but I haven’t forgotten!

            Don’t have a lot of tolerance for the “Look at me being a wonderful mother” approach – including aggressively militant bf in public – but it is the mothers who get on my nerves, not the children.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          I am sorry, but your example is very poor. I could find a people who tweet about how other people garden and then retweet their tweets and sick people on them because how dare they not agree with exactly the way I garden. None of that would have anything to do with how the nation feels at large. People will always judge others for one thing or another.

        • TiffanyEpiphany

          Really? Actively hostile? Um, she’s an educated, intelligent professional who is sharing her knowledge and experience with others, many of whom only think that they’re informed.

          It sounds to me like anyone who is not in total agreement with you is against you (i.e., hostile), and that sounds a lot like a deep-rooted issue that often fuels the parental tribalism that Dr. Amy just wrote about.

        • Alenushka

          You know the difference between allergies and being a superfluous snob..

        • quadrophenic

          First, it’s hard to estimate social opinion on a subject from some obnoxious people on twitter. Not exactly a representative sample size. There are trolls on twitter who will tweet strangers discussing their wives’ labors and tell them not to have interventions. Plenty of women are berated for formula feeding on the internet and told they are poisoning their child. There are people who think Obama was born in Kenya. It’s the Internet.

          I do admit that support for public breastfeeding could be better and people have a lot of opinions on extended breastfeeding. But the support is growing. I think people shouldn’t be assholes about it, but it’s hard to make someone comfortable with something. Like I would probably be uncomfortable if I were breastfeeding in front of male family members without a cover. If that’s the case I can imagine they may feel uncomfortable if they witnessed it. I’m not excusing them being obnoxious, maybe they should have left the room if they had a problem with it. But even the people most accepting of breastfeeding may feel a little uneasy trying to carry on a conversation with a nursing mother because they don’t want to awkwardly avoid any eye drifting to the exposed boob. Maybe it’s their problem not yours, fine. It seems like there’s some issues to be worked out with your family.

        • Mac Sherbert

          “I did not at all cross that line, just tried to have control over what I and my kids ate.” — Actually, by bringing your own food you did cross that line. You pretty much said you guys eat crap. Actions really do speak louder than words.

          As for BFIP, my husband freaks out when I do it. Why I don’t know. Thus, I take steps to not to it when I’m with him…However, if I have a hungry baby I will feed it and anyone that has a problem with it will have to deal. At first at family things I would go to another room, but considering how long and how much my baby eats that meant never being apart of the get together. Turns out it was just me that was uncomfortable feeding in front of a crowd. No one else cared as long as said baby was not screaming.

        • theNormalDistribution

          I think it’s safe to say that refusing food that is being offered by your host is generally accepted as rude, and that’s why they feel insulted. A few family meals with white bread are not going to give you or your children diabetes. Would you say that you *never* eat or allow your children to eat refined carbohydrates or saturated fats? Because unless that is the case and everyone knows it (as they would if you had a dietary restriction, like celiac disease), the message you’re sending is that the food that they have prepared and are offering to you is not good enough. A lot of parents don’t feed their children white bread, but I doubt many of them would be so rude as to refuse eating it at someone else’s table.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I am just thinking how I would respond if someone we invited to a meal showed up with all their own food for their kids.

            I don’t think anything would come of the day, but I can definitely say, they wouldn’t be invited back.

            I know that when we go to my folks’ house, we tend to bring fruit along, since they usually don’t have much around, but even then, we do try to eat any fruit they have and offer, even if it is something the kids normally don’t eat.

            Alan is certainly turning into some piece of work, I have to say. The more he says, the more I find it funny.

          • Amazed

            I once met a woman who started lecturing her mother in-law for offering her kid a bar of chocolate. We are trying so hard not to feed her junk food, don’t you know how bad it is for children and so on. She was all but screaming. She was definitely hissing.

            The only other mother I’ve ever seen in such state was my own mum. My father had agreed to give my 7-year-old brother a sip of his beer and she barely had the time to stop him. The fact is, my dad was abroad just when my mother was hospitalized with my brother and everyone said he was going to die. Anything but the diet prescribed by the doctors was strictly forbidden. But my dad somehow couldn’t really feel that a sip of beer might be potentially lethal. My mother gave him a good beating then and he let her because he knew he deserved it.

            It’s weird to me when people do such things to themselves just because of some junk food that is not potentially harmful. Just… junk.

          • Durango

            Definitely. Who was it that said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”?

          • Please, don’t equate me with her. :p

          • Susan

            I doubt you are the same person and I find your writing styles, thinking and content quite different. But since you both showed up at about the same time I have wondered if you both could be one person practicing writing in a different character. If so- good job. If not- forgive me! I tend to be suspicious I have dealt with Munchausen by Internet early in my internet exposure.

          • LOL, that would be more Machiavellian than I could imagine being capable of. Interesting thought though!

          • Perhaps I should have clarified: we were spending half the summer with this group of relatives. Does that not make it a bit different? (I agree with you if it’s one meal.) I don’t plan such trips any more, but I think it’s a shame to have to make that choice instead of peacefully coexisting.

          • theNormalDistribution

            It makes no difference if it’s one meal or twenty. If anything, it’s worse, because they’re feeding you for half a summer; the least you can do is accept it graciously. If you did not want to eat the food they eat or subject your children to it, you didn’t have to agree to be their guest. “Peacefully coexisting” would be to plan a group vacation where each family is responsible for themselves, not expecting someone else to feed you and bringing your own superior food just in case they don’t do it well enough.

          • Therese

            Ok, that’s a little crazy. If we’re talking about staying with someone for weeks and weeks, they’re really not allowed to go and purchase any of the foods they like to eat that entire time to bring back to the house?

          • theNormalDistribution

            No one has said that.

          • Therese

            That is what you said. That staying long term with someone makes it even more important that you eat all the food they offer you and not supplement with any of your own food.

          • Becky05

            No, that’s not what anyone is saying. There is a big difference between bringing frozen containers of your own food to a family gathering because you’re not willing to eat what’s offered, and helping with meal planning, grocery shopping, and participating in providing the food for everyone.

          • In that situation you could offer to help with meal prep and grocery shopping. That way you can have influence over what is offered – ” we really enjoy ‘x’ bread, you should try it!”- without being rude.

          • Therese

            Really? What sounds more rude to you? Asking someone to take you grocery shopping and use their money to buy food for you? Or just buying any items you might want without inconveniencing your host? I sure wouldn’t appreciate someone coming to stay with me and trying to tell me what I should buy, even if it was presented politely like you suggested. Much better to buy your own items and then offer to share with your host.

          • Therese

            Especially considering that the food that Alan prefers is almost certainly more expensive than the food his hosts are used to. So to go grocery shopping with your guests and suggest they buy things that are more expensive than what they normally buy because you think they are better definitely isn’t less rude than just bringing your own food to start with.

        • sleuther

          Just looked at WolfMommy’s twitter feed. The woman is certifiable.

          • LibrarianSarah

            To be fair, I would totally knit the boob hat as a gag gift for my SIL when they decided to have kids. But yeah otherwise she seems nucking futs.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          The greatest irony of attachment parenting is that those who preen about practicing it don’t understand that the issues are trivial. The difference between breastfeeding and not breastfeeding is basically meaningless. The same applies to baby-wearing and co-sleeping. In the grand scheme of parenting, they have little or no impact on anything.

          It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. Homebirth advocates and vaccine rejectionists risk their children’s lives and then whine that others are bad parents if the aren’t breastfeeding their toddlers. It’s the parenting equivalent of someone who accidentally killed someone feeling superior to those who don’t recycle — bizarre, irresponsible and supremely self serving.

          • Either you, one retired physician, are right…or the AAP, HHS, NIH, and WHO are. Hmmm….tough call. 😉

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Alan, why do you think it’s okay to talk to someone like that?

            If you have different opinions (and clearly you do), there’s a diplomatic way to challenge someone.

            Sounds to me like you’re more interested in insulting others than you are in having an intelligent conversation about anything.

          • Are you referring to my “alphabet soup” reply to Dr. Amy? I’m speechless if so.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Why speechless? Did I miss another instance of sarcasm?

          • Just that you would think the tone of my comment was more caustic and insulting than Dr. Amy’s. Which is her prerogative after all: just as politics ain’t beanbag, neither are the parenting wars. I just don’t know what to say if you see it on one side but not the other.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Alan, is it possible that you only perceive her comments to be “caustic and insulting” when really they’re just honest and direct?

            You don’t have to worry about getting any candy-coated bull crap from her. I choose to trust what she says because she’s actually read the research, interpreted it correctly, and presented it in a way that is intelligent and articulate, plus she has years of experience in her field, not to mention she’s a parent herself (i.e., she has practical experience as well as professional experience). She’s credible and qualified to be making the assertions she makes. What are your qualifications?

            If you need an example, you could say something like “I see it differently…” and explain instead of saying stuff like “Either you, one retired physician, are right…or the AAP, HHS, NIH, and WHO are. Hmmm….tough call.” That sounds pretty insulting to me.

          • I didn’t object to Dr. Amy’s tone–you objected to mine. I’m okay with “honest and direct” from both sides, but you seem to be applying a blatant double standard. Dr. Amy’s post to which I was replying to included the following verbiage:

            “those who preen about practicing it”
            “risk their children’s lives and then whine”
            “It’s the parenting equivalent of someone who accidentally killed someone”
            “bizarre, irresponsible and supremely self serving”

            So…that’s not insulting, but my post was? Really? You struck me as more intelligent, discerning, and evenhanded than that, honestly. Disappointing.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Yes, your post was…because you were specifically addressing her and insinuating that, because she “one retired physician,” she doesn’t know as much as all the other boards out there.

            All the quotes you give above are directed at AP folk in general, but you took offense possibly because you’re sensitive to criticism.

            And anyway, I really don’t care what you think of me.

          • theNormalDistribution

            I just read an article titled “Researchers find poop-throwing by chimps is a sign of intelligence”. I’m not sure the same correlation will be found for humans, though. Disappointing.

          • Could you throw us a bone and please just cut the act? If there’s one thing I like less than intolerance, its insincerity. Do you really not understand how inflammatory and insulting some of your posts come off? If not, then creative name was
            right and you are completely lacking in self-awareness. I suppose you’re entitled to think your parenting methods are superior and lord it over all of us but, if that’s going to be the way it is I wish you would just make your statements, stand by them and quit feigning surprise when someone else takes offense.

            I know I said I *try* and be tolerant and I am—of your parenting methods but, not of your attitude. Despite what you present as evidence of the superiority of AP, I’m not convinced. On the other hand, I wouldn’t take it as far as some AP opponents and say that kids will become needy and
            psychologically damaged by being breastfed past a certain point or sleeping in mom and dad’s bed. In my opinion, that would be about as silly as implying most main stream moms are feeding their kids Kool-Aid and never cuddling them. I won’t even go as far as to say all attachment parents are only in it for the validation because I don’t necessarily believe that either. But, if I did believe those things, I’d say them. Straight up.

            I just wish you’d cut it out with this “I’m not judging but…..”
            type of bullshit. It’s quite clear from the tone and content of your message that you think less of people who do not
            do AP, breastfeed etc…. Nothing I can do about that. But, really just own it instead of pretending you’re not trying to look down anybody. You’re not fooling people. *cue Alan smugly brushing me off and laughing at what he perceives to be my “righteous indignation”*

          • I’m not laughing at you. Honest. And I’m actually not such a bad guy…really and truly.

            But anyhow: my main point is not so much “I’m not judging, but…”; rather, it’s “I judge X, you judge Y, other people judge both plus Z but minus Q, and there is no perfect combination…but none of these things are so severe that people don’t have a right to choose them for their family”. Does that make sense? I know I put it in vague, abstract terms there; but when I use specific examples we just end up getting bogged down in arguing over the specific issues.

            Which is fine: I’ll admit to enjoying a good debate. But it is not the fundamental point I’m trying to make, and I acknowledged somewhere in these comments that I was as much at fault for getting off track as anyone else.

          • Sue

            ” I’m actually not such a bad guy…really and truly.”

            Alan, I suspect you’re not a bad guy, but you do seem to take health care and parenting advice to the extreme. Repeat after me: “there is no single best way” – whether it be child-raising, or diet, or most things in life. Science and experience give us pointers, which should be applied in a balanced way. Good nutrition is not about avoiding all “carbs” – it’s about a balance of nutrients and energy. Good parenting isn’t about doing AP, or any other model, the “right way” – it’s about raising children with love, security and good sense.

            And building good relationships with family and friends (and setting a good example for your children) involves mutual respect and consideration of the impact of your behaviour on others. How hard is it to say “we eat grain bread at home because it’s better for us but it’s OK to eat whatever Auntie X serves when we visit her?”

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Alan, Alan, Alan, all of those organizations oppose homebirth yet you support it. Why, pray tell, if you are hanging on their every word?

            Moreover, I opposed routine estrogen replacement therapy when it was standard of care, I opposed routine use of bisphosphonates, and I opposed routine use of PSA testing. Why? Because there was never enough evidence to support them, something that has since been acknowledged by many of the very same organizations who promoted them.

            Like anyone with scientific training, I decide what to accept and what to reject based on the scientific evidence. I don’t need any organization to tell me what to think. I can figure it out for myself based on reading the relevant literature.

          • I have said from my first post here that I don’t deny that homebirth is more risky than hospital birth; I just argue that it is a risk people are entitled to take. You are entitled to believe what you like, including that a lifeless manufactured powder mixed with tap water will nourish a baby just as well as the living substance that we call breastmilk. But when you state it authoritatively as though it were established fact (i.e., no qualification like “I believe…”), I am going to point out the array of authorities aligned against you. Not to mention the irony of your raising your eyebrow at quackery in the crunchy community (and often properly so), but then taking so many iconoclastic positions yourself.

          • Renee Martin

            You *do* know that Dr A BF all 4 of her kids, right? I have never seen her say that breast milk wasn’t better, just that its not so much better that it is worth driving yourself nuts over. It’s a parenting choice that, like baby wearing, just won’t matter in 10years. You cannot go into a classroom and pick out the FF kids vs the BF ones, and until you can, it’s not worth getting worked up about.

            The key thing about BF vs FF that people leave out of the discussion is that breast milk requires a lactating mother, you know the owner of the boobs. This means it is not just a choice about baby feeding, where both options are the same. It becomes about a womans body, and the things in her life matter in this equation With FF, you buy a can of “lifeless manufactured powder”, and anyone can mix and feed- Dad, grandma, babysitter, whomever. BF makes demands on Moms that FF does not.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I’ve said it before, and I say it again:

            All else equal, breastfeeding is better than formula.

            However, all else is never equal.

          • ratiomom

            Alan, I’ve said this in the previous topic, and I’ll say it again here. You’ve got no right to quote the AAP, WHO,… stance on breastfeeding and use that to define good parenting, while at the same time completely opposing their stances on bedsharing and homebirth.

            This is the great hypocrisy and doublethink of the AP movement and it proves Dr Amy’s point. AP is not about what’s best for the kids, but about martyrdom and bragging rights for the parents.

          • Sigh. All you are doing is mirroring my argument. If you are not paying attention to what I say, I am not going to repeat myself endlessly…go back and look at what I have said about this earlier.

        • Rabbit

          ” That is a powerful curb on BFIP and thus BF more broadly (because formula feeders can feed their babies anywhere), so breastfeeding women are right to feel besieged, increasingly so as their babies get older (despite the “official advice” to breastfeed to a year or longer, even if not necessarily all the way to kindergarten as some on the extremes push it).”

          I breastfeed all three of my kids for varying lengths of time, and formula fed the younger two for at least a couple of months before their first birthdays. It is absolutely not true that you can formula feed anywhere. I cannot recall a single negative comment about either way I chose to feed my kids, but the practical difficulties of finding hot water and mixing a bottle without making a mess made public formula feeding much more difficult for me than public breastfeeding. All I had to do for the breastfeeding was find a quiet corner. I breastfed at MLB games, Sea World, on airplanes, the playground, the grocery store, and even my in-laws’, and managed to do so discreetly. It is not that hard, and frankly, at the in-laws’, the opportunity to take periodic quiet breaks away from everyone was a godsend.

        • As for someone combing Twitter for negative comments about NIP, I suggest 4chan or reddit if you really want to see some offensive comments.

    • anonymous

      I think there’s something to be said for just eating what’s presented, assuming it’s not very often. Or taking a small amount of things offered and not eating the parts that you object to. Difference between substituting your own bread and not taking any bread is a big social difference.

      • I was a stinker once about my 2 year old being offered pop at an inlaw gathering. Now I realize how obnoxious I was. Bringing your own food to table is impolite, unless in extreme situations. Replacing white bread with your own superior bread is SO not worth offending relatives, who will be rolling their eyes about you know for years, probably. Just say no, or let the kids try a little unhealthy bread. They’ll live and learn a lesson about being courteous and flexible with their elders.

        • Durango

          My sister in law literally brought two grocery bags of food when I had my toddler/preschool niece spend the night. One night. It did not help my relationship with my SIL.

          • Lisa

            Oh man – does she have allergies or something? My son is one and gets a rash around his mouth when he eats certain foods. Because of that, I bring him food when he stays with people. I always preface it with “he can eat anything but xyz – if that doesn’t fit with what you’re planning, he also has this meal.”

            I am pretty sure chocolate buttons were part of his breakfast last time he stayed with my MIL. If you can’t have chocolate for breakfast at grandma’s, where can you have it?

          • auntbea

            How much food was that kid planning on eating?

          • E151

            Two grocery bags is maybe a bit much. But I have to say, I can relate. I always send my kids with food when they are staying somewhere. It’s not just because they are fussy eaters (they are) or that I care what they eat in one visit (I don’t) but because food is expensive and I want to be considerate of the people who are taking care of my kid. My child will decide all she wants is expensive brand vanilla yogurt and she will sob if she doesn’t get it. This will not kill her. But it might make her hosts wish for death. So I send lots of a couple of things the kid might obsess over so I’m not burdening her host unnecessarily. My ten year-old is expected to eat what is served wherever she goes. My three year-old is not.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          I guess AP parenting has no concern for raising your children to be polite and consider the feelings of others. That might explain a thing or two if AP parenting is really becoming the norm.

        • Becky05

          My SIL once went out and bought “good hotdogs” (but not actually health food dogs, just quality ones) to a family gathering so she wouldn’t have to eat the cheap hot dog. She was then offended by the jokes about how she was too good to eat what the rest of us were eating.

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        I completely agree! Both of those stories from Alan do not sound as if someone was judging them. It sounds like more of Alan’s judgements and assumptions thrown in with not only some rudeness, but teaching his children to be rude as well.

      • theadequatemother

        agree, as do emily post and miss manners. that was rude behavior

      • Anonomom

        The message Alan is giving his children is that a single meal of non-ideal food is dangerous. How are they going to feel when they’re at a friend or family member’s house and are given white flour products? Probably either confused, scared, and eventually pissed off at you for being so rigid. I am very careful about buying only healthy food. But I dont police their food when cupcakes are brought to school or they visit granparents. That is over the top, unnecessary, and crazymaking for the kids.

        • Bombshellrisa

          I don’t know, if he keeps it up and the kids follow, I doubt there will be a lot of invites from family and probably not too many friends.

    • anonymous

      Also, it’s polite to use a blanket to cover up while breastfeeding. I can’t imagine not doing so in front of in-laws, for example.

      • Elle

        I’m tempted to say “Almost any woman can successfully use a cover if she tries hard enough,” but I don’t want to sound like a lactivist.

        • Susan

          If you read the post his wife was covered up. I suppose I sympathize here because I remember breastfeeding my son on a family visit and coming to the opinion my BIL was probably grossed out. My son was about a year old so it was easy not to breastfeed in front of him again. Also someone earlier posted that one can always breastfeed in the bathroom. Now that I have always found offensive. If you wouldn’t eat in the bathroom you should not feel you have to feed your baby there. If my baby had been young enough that he needed to eat frequently as a guest I may have gone to another room. But to the bathroom? I would have decided my BIL was going to have to get over it.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            I was the one to talked about BF in the bathroom. Yeah, of course it’s gross to think about, but if you sit on the toilet seat cover, it serves well as a chair (and most home toilets have a cover; a different story perhaps in a public bathroom).

            Not pleasant or easy, and certainly not aesthetically satisfying depending on what kind of bathroom you’re in, but for those determined enough to BF regardless of circumstance, there are other options of privacy and courtesy besides doing it in front of everyone, especially without asking if others don’t mind (I know, I know…why does the BFing mother need to care so much about other people’s feelings…what about her own?).

          • I don’t have a creative name

            Gotta disagree with you Tiffany… it’s more than aesthetically unappealing; it’s really quite unsanitary. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/01/02/flushing-can-spread-diarrhea-disease/

            Fecal matter ends up in the air, on the walls, on the sink… bathrooms are just yucky places. I wouldn’t sit in there and eat a ham sandwich… I wouldn’t make my baby eat in there either.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Fair enough. But it’s not like anyone would be licking the toilet seat or anything.

            I am just curious…Does the fear of germs (fecal matter, etc.) keep you from actually going to the bathroom in a bathroom? Especially since it’s in the air and everywhere? If I were that afraid of the unsanitary-ness of bathrooms, then I would have to carry around a personal latrine. (I’m trying to be funny not mean.)

          • I don’t have a creative name

            Nope. I can do my business just about anywhere. But I store my toothbrush in the cabinet.

          • Me too, and I dunk it in Listerine (the old tyme brown kind) before and after using!

          • I don’t have a creative name

            That’s actually a good idea. I’m a mild-germophobe, not over the top, but bathrooms do gross me out. And unfortunately I have a little boy going on his TENTH day of explosive diarrhea. (yes, I’ve been in contact with his doctor) You would not believe how many little outfits I have thrown away in the last week. Poop from neckhole down to the toes? Yeah, not going to be cleaning that up. My mild germophobia may turn into full blown OCD if this doesn’t clear up soon.

          • Poor little guy! He may have what I just got over a few days ago that lasted about a week (sure seemed longer though). I was running to the bathroom multiple times per hour, lost almost 20 pounds, and I think my electrolytes were getting out of whack. Near the end, I followed some advice from the Mayo Clinic’s website and drink water with sugar and salt mixed into it, and it tasted SO good. I got better shortly after that, which may have been a coincidence.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I know that in my state rotavirus is going around like crazy. Apparently it is also a highly contagious and virulent strain. My friend who is a dental hygienist got it and so did her entire office even though they wear masks.

          • I figured that was a likely culprit. Are you in the Midwest?

          • GuestB

            Oh man. I think I’d rather eat the poop. That brown Listerine is NASTY! I don’t know how you do it. They do make flavored ones, you know.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Good call.

          • LibrarianSarah

            I don’t see the big deal. I used to eat in the bathroom everyday when I was at school and I didn’t get sick. And these were public bathrooms. The likelihood of ecoli poisoning can’t be that large for a breastfeeding baby.

          • Susan

            Sorry, I reread it and I thought where he said she didn’t use an extra cover he says she didn’t. It doesn’t change much about my opinion but I feel like an idiot for saying to read it again when I needed to!

        • theadequatemother

          I couldn’t use a cover. But I had a good system of a nursing tank under another shirt that kept everything covered and if my FILor dad was around, I latched in another room and then just walked back in and sat down. You can’t see anything around a baby head.

          Except for that one time i nursed at the beach….in a bikini….:)

      • Dr Kitty

        Or you have a kid that screamed anytime her face and head was covered and pulled blankets off as soon as she could reach and grab.

        I did the one shirt up/one shirt down thing. Breast fed in public, in front of in laws, male friends, wherever I needed to.
        Can’t recall any comments, and if there were any dirty looks I wasn’t paying enough attention to register them. If I can manage not to look at them, they can manage not to look at me.

        Sorry, if I lived my life based on the disapproving glances of strangers…well, it would have been a lot less fun!

    • theadequatemother

      in my 10 months of breastfeeding not once did i get a nasty look or comment. i breastfed on planes, in countless restaurants, at a retirement dinner for the head on anesthesia (room full of age 50ish white men), two museums, the subway, park benches, the mall, my MIL’s house, my parent’s house, myBILs house, the hospital while my husband was having minor surgery. Not once did I use a cover.

      My anecdote beats your anecdote.

      • Yet several people down thread have said what you did was rude. Maybe it’s regional; in which case I like your region better than my region or their region.

        • I don’t have a creative name

          I was one of the people who talked about rudeness. Let me be clear: I did not saying “not using a cover”, I said “letting your boobs hang out everywhere”. I have seen some women, usually smaller framed and smaller breasted, wearing a flow-y shirt and an undershirt, manage to nurse while being COMPLETELY covered, but with no nursing cover. I have no idea how they do it. And I have seen others who just pull their shirt up and don’t give a crap about anyone else.

          It’s simply about consideration for others equal to the amount of consideration you expect for yourself. It’s not difficult.

          • me

            Define “letting your boobs hang out everywhere”. Literally topless? A sliver of skin visible between the top of the shirt and the baby’s mouth that only a close up gawker could see? Something in between?

            The trouble with setting your standard of modesty as the only acceptable standard is that you really need to specifically define it. And remember that I’ve seen more “boobs hanging out” at the average nightclub on a Sat night than I have ever seen a nursing mother expose…

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            The trouble with setting your standard of modesty as the only acceptable standard is that you really need to specifically define it.

            I got into a fairly heated on-line exchange with someone one time about nursing at a restaurant. The complain was “I don’t want them sticking their boobs in my face.” My response was, what in the blazes are you doing during dinner?

            I have to admit, when I am at dinner at a restaurant, I am pretty ambivalent of what is going on at tables around me. I might notice if a group is loud for some reason, but in order to even notice that someone is BFing at a table around me, I’d have to be looking for it, it seems to me. What would it actually take to constitute “sticking it in my face”? Are they coming over to my table to sit next to me and BF uncovered? Because I have to say, that is pretty much what it would take for me to actually SEE anything. Sure, if I went out of my way to look, I could see them BFing, but to actually see any skin, even if they are uncovered, you really have to go out of your way to look, don’t you?

            Jeebus, I rarely even saw my wife’s boobs when she was BFing our kids at home in the chair (uncovered, of course). I realize there are always degrees, but man, how hard is it to not stare at people at other tables in restaurants?

          • “My response was, what in the blazes are you doing during dinner?”

            LOL, I love this! Nice one. 🙂

          • Lori

            “It’s simply about consideration for others equal to the amount of consideration you expect for yourself. It’s not difficult.”

            But that’s just it, no one gives much consideration to my personal preferences of what I might see when I am out in public, and I don’t expect them to. Men still adjust their junk while walking down the sidewalk, despite my years of disapproval. Every summer I still see tons of young women wearing cowboy boots with dresses. Ugh, why, why!? Oh and don’t get me started on crock wearers, or people who wear those Bench jackets with the collar flipped up like count Dracula. Those people seem not to give a damn what I find pleasant to look at and just go on living their lives despite my discomfort with their choices. So yeah I guess I would like to be, and generally am, affording the same respect.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            It’s interesting that I clarify that it’s possible to be discreet without using a cover and people still aren’t happy. Someone just called me a “moron” downthread on this issue.

            I just don’t see why it’s so hard to have your cake and eat it too. Or let other people eat it too. Or something. My SIL’s idea of nursing in public was to unbutton her shirt right at the restaurant table, revealing a braless chest, and just latch my nephew on right there, with her other boob in full view. She just did not give one shit how uncomfortable it made my in-laws. Why couldn’t she have used a cover, a nursing tank, or a garment that would’ve helped be a little more discreet? Something. Likewise, why are the people who are up in arms about this not able to accept the notion that not everyone wants to see their boobs, and able to just do a small amount of planning ahead, to wear something that will allow their child to eat wherever, whenever, while still respecting other people? I just don’t see why this is so hard.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Another person who is interesting in problem solving, not finger pointing. This is refreshing.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Why couldn’t she have used a cover, a nursing tank, or a garment that would’ve helped be a little more discreet?

            But why should she?

            I really do want to hear an answer to that that doesn’t beg the question. Some people are uncomfortable? But why are they uncomfortable? As I mentioned yesterday, you actually have to go out of your way to look to notice what other people are doing at restaurants, don’t you? Why don’t you just not look in her direction? Is it really that hard to NOT look at someone at a restaurant?

            I don’t understand this idea that because someone is breastfeeding, that it means that everyone is seeing their boobs. Shoot, from my experience, covered or uncovered, there really isn’t all that much too see even. You might glance over and see they are breastfeeding, and if you don’t like it, then don’t look their way again.

            When you go to a restaurant, are you really staring at the other guests? I sure hope not. Maybe I’m strange, but I’ve never found it hard to not stare at other guests at the restaurant.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            Because bare breasts are private. And you try not looking when someone who has a point to prove has her shirt completely open across the table from you at a restaurant.

            Yes, I know, I’m a puritanical American, blah blah blah. For people who are saying it’s not a big deal, I just don’t get why it’s an equally not big deal to just be a little more discreet. I’m not suggesting baby shouldn’t eat immediately, I’m not suggesting women should have to slink off to the bathroom to nurse (gross – we had that discussion yesterday). I just don’t see why some women have both bare breasts hanging out (my SIL was the easiest example, but I’ve seen others), other than to try and make a point.

          • me

            This is where I say, I’ve never seen anything remotely like that. Just like many have pointed out have they have NIP for years and never gotten a sideways glance over it. *Could* it theoretically happen? Sure. But since the vast majority of nursing mothers do so plenty “discretely” enough, why even bring up the fringes? Do you really think MOST (or even many) women who NIP take it to the extreme your SIL took it to? And what was the backstory there? I imagine there must have been one. I can’t imagine that level of exposure unless you are deliberately provoking someone who maybe said/did something to you first… not the most mature thing to do, but something tells me your SIL got sick of your parents commenting on her NIP, even “discretely”, and she wanted to ‘teach them a lesson’… that I could see (tho not necessarily agree with). What you describe is not NIP, it is some sort of revenge….

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Because bare breasts are private.

            Sigh. I did say I would like to hear an answer that doesn’t beg the question.

            But let’s accept that for the sake of argument. Are nursing breasts the same as bare breasts? Not that I’ve ever noticed, but then maybe I am strange.

            For people who are saying it’s not a big deal, I just don’t get why it’s an equally not big deal to just be a little more discreet.

            You are going to have to tell me what you consider not discrete in order to decide what is more discrete.

            You sound just like the person I referred to who claimed that nursing moms are “sticking their boobs in my face”

            If you have a problem that you have to look at a mother nursing while sitting at a restaurant, then who is really the problem? The mom nursing? Or your insistence on watching others in the restaurant?

          • Lori

            Why, because women’s bodies are also partly the property of everyone around them of course! Seriously, thanks for the sensible comment. I really do not get how people don’t see this as good ole fashioned sexism.

          • Lori

            Because you don’t get to decide what constitutes as discreet for another person. I mean, you personally are okay with breastfeeding without a cover as long as boobs aren’t flopped out (or whatever wording you used that I can’t be arsed to look up at the moment) but then you have to realize that Jim at the next table feels covers are a must, and that might be okay, so long as Sara isn’t there, because well, she just feels uncomfortable knowing what is happening under that cover so then the bathroom is your best option. Don’t you see how you deciding what passes as discreet is unfair? Instead, you get the freedom of not looking, or getting over it (like really, I say that not entirely joking, it would probably get less awkward with time, maybe power through, I dunno) or deciding she’s a jerk and never hanging out with her again.

        • theadequatemother

          I live in Canada. We might get less worked up about things compared to our neighbours in the US…My impression is that we are also less puritanical about body parts.

          • Ah, there ya go. My sister is Canadian (a Vancouverite) and I can totally see that.

        • Renee Martin

          It IS regional! I am in Eugene, and can nurse anywhere, basically topless, and no one cares. It is great.

          I am not concerned over others reactions. They are just boobs, and if one is out, that’s because there’s a baby eating. I feel that I am a polite person, but there are times when it’s better to just do what you need to do.

          • I have always heard Eugene was like the epicentre of AP, lol.

      • JC

        I’ve got another good anecdote. My 80-year-old grandmother is about as prudish as they come. I can’t say “darn” around her; she has gone to the same ultra-conservative church for the last 50 years; she is extremely anti-gays/lesbians; she is obviously a diehard republican and criticizes anything liberal. She is my polar opposite. But I will never forget when she visited me in the hospital after my daughter was born. I was nursing her and I had a blanket over me so she wouldn’t be able to see. She walked up to me and my husband said “she’s breastfeeding the baby.” My grandmother said, “Oh, that’s okay. I’ve see it before.” She then lifted up the blanket to look at the baby. I have never been more shocked.

        I am not for one second saying moms don’t get criticized for nursing around relatives or in public or for many years, but I have never seen it or had it happen to me. Ever. And I live in a very conservative part of the country. It is hard for me to believe that nursing ruined a relationship between two female relatives. Surely, there had to be something else going on that affected their relationship negatively.

        • There really was not, other than the aftermath in which my wife let her relatives know that if she was not welcome to nurse her baby in their presence, they should weigh that in the future when deciding whether to invite her over, or to come visit us. This has been twisted into her not allowing relatives to see the baby or her, but she is simply saying she is not going to go to the bathroom to nurse, or wear a cover. Period.

          They have also made insulting comparisons to topless bars and other such nonsense (if you knew my wife, you would know how supremely laughable that is).

          • Poogles

            “There really was not, other than the aftermath in which my wife let her relatives know that if she was not welcome to nurse her baby in their presence, they should weigh that in the future when deciding whether to invite her over, or to come visit us. This has been twisted into her not allowing relatives to see the baby or her, but she is simply saying she is not going to go to the bathroom to nurse, or wear a cover. Period.”

            So, she gave them an ultimatum – be forced to put up with something that clearly makes them uncomfortable (whether it “should” or not), or don’t invite her and the baby over or visit. I can see why they reacted so negatively, and how they feel she is not “allowing” them to see her or the baby.

          • Lori

            Really? I mean… really?? I get and share the outrage at people being sanctimonious at feeding choices, but the idea that a mother choosing to breastfeed around her family equals them being “forced to put up with something that clearly makes them uncomfortable,” is totally repugnant to me. It is just more good old fashioned body-policing if you ask me. And I also question, what is the “right thing” for a mom in such a scenario to do. Acquiesce to their demands and visit plenty often so they can see the baby without being “forced” to watch her grave indecency?

          • Word.

            I trust my original point has now been well proven? Those of you who inhabit regions or social spheres where this is alien to you, count yourselves lucky.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            If it makes the family uncomfortable, they could say something like, “We have a cozy chair in the bedroom that would be a good quiet place to nurse if you would like”

            That would be a more polite approach than insisting that she not do it.

          • Poogles

            “If it makes the family uncomfortable, they could say something like, “We have a cozy chair in the bedroom that would be a good quiet place to nurse if you would like”

            That would be a more polite approach than insisting that she not do it.”

            I agree. Personally, if there was someone breastfeeding in front of me in my home without a cover, and it really bothered me (hypothetically; in reality, I don’t give a flying fig) and they made it clear they would not cover or relocate, I would relocate myself to another room until they were done. I would also think twice before inviting them over again with their baby, at least until the baby was weaned, if it really bothered me that much.

          • Poogles

            “what is the “right thing” for a mom in such a scenario to do.”

            Depends on a lot of factors, I think. I would, in another person’s home, try to strike a compromise, if at all possible, (use a cover, excuse myself to another comfortable room, pump and use bottles when visiting these particular people, etc). Maybe that makes me a push-over. In my own home, I would be much less likely to go out of my way.

          • Lori

            I also have to wonder, should all people be this concerned with the delicate sensibilities of those around them? Should, gay people, deaf people, physically disabled people, people who stutter, etc worry at length about the “comfort” of those around them or is it just breastfeeding mothers?

          • I don’t think we should be over concerned with delicate sensibilities – but having some basic consideration for the feelings of others doesn’t seem that bad an idea.

            On the beaches of the Med, no- one gives naked breasts much of a second glance. In a restaurant, you would probably get arrested. For a nursing mother, breasts are associated with food and comfort for her infant, and others ought to make an effort to grasp that imperative – but a bit of discretion and understanding of their discomfort would surely help to make it more acceptable and normal.

            I deal with the discomfort people feel around disability all the time. Sensitively, I hope – though my priority is my daughter’s feelings, and I am more than capable of dealing with unacceptable reactions. I regard discomfort as their problem, not mine, and don’t let it dictate where I go or what I do.

          • Something From Nothing

            This is classic. I’ve been watching the exchange with alan throughout this thread. People are generally not responding to Alan’s posts in a favourable way, and, for the most part, I can see why. However, once that happens, ridicule ensues for almost anything he says. It’s an interesting social phenomenon. It plays out here often.

          • SkepticalGuest

            If it makes someone uncomfortable to watch you feed your baby, I think you have little choice but to say “either deal with it or we can’t see you.” We combo fed, and if anyone dared to tell me I couldn’t bottle-feed in their presence, I would’ve said exactly the same thing. Babies deserve to eat, and mom and baby don’t deserve to be hidden in another room just to make someone comfortable. FWIW, I got a LOT more crap about formula-feeding than breastfeeding, though thankfully no one told me to leave the room.

          • No ultimatum: simply an informative statement that can be paraphrased thusly: “I feed my baby when she is hungry, wherever I happen to be at the time. You may wish to take that into account when making your plans.” Never did she tell them they were not welcome to visit us, or that we would decline a future invitation to visit them.

            Her parents btw admitted during the height of the imbroglio that they too had felt uncomfortable all along but didn’t feel they had the right to say anything. @@

          • Poogles

            Please realize, I’m not necessarily saying they responded well to the situation, and, generally, I’m in favor of a baby being fed wherever they happen to be when hungry. I was just commenting to point out that it may not have been *just* the actual breastfeeding that led to such a break-down in relationships, but the response that was given – that she would continue to breastfeed in front of them without any covers, even if it makes them uncomfortable, no compromises. Their choices became putting up with the possibility that, while visiting, breastfeeding may occur in front of them and make them uncomfortable or not being around the mother or baby at all in order to avoid this. Obviously, they also were unwilling to compromise and, from their POV, they are being “denied” access to the mother and baby.

          • Lori

            Or, what if they just ya know, decided to get over it? I mean, when we say it makes them “uncomfortable” we aren’t talking about actual physical discomfort like if they were being subjected to cigarette smoke or unbearable heat or hoards of fire ants, we mean “uncomfortable” as in maybe how I’d feel if my grandparents made out in front of me or something. Like, “uh oh, awkward, where do I look!?” There is a significant distinction there and it always shakes my head that a breastfeeding mom can be considered “rude” for not going out of her way to prevent an adult’s social discomfort when many of the alternatives you suggested in your comments would cause significant inconvenience (pumping and bottle feeding while out) and maybe actual physical discomfort (engorgement/leaking from skipping a feed, hungry baby, etc) to the mom and baby. Seems pretty rude if you ask me.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Yes, a nursing mother has to put up with a lot, doesn’t she? But that’s just how it is. Breastfeeding is a choice, and with that choice and its benefits come hoards of inconveniences and discomforts.

            It is sad, disheartening, unfair, discriminatory, and at many times oppressive. But you know what I like about what Poogles was saying (in contrast to what Alan and you have been saying)? There’s an effort to problem solve, to take responsibility for ones choices without blaming others entirely for the horrific treatment one receives for her choices.

            And yes, breastfeeding is a CHOICE. Other options exist. We AREN’T gay (Alan’s ineffective analogy) or blind, deaf, or otherwise disabled (your persuasive, but nonetheless unconvincing, analogies given elsewhere). To breastfeed is a woman’s choice…and right (of course). But it doesn’t come easy (physically and socially, depending on where you are in the US).

            Over time, things will change positively for the nursing mother in the US, as it has for the rights of African Americans and women in general. Wailing about being the victim isn’t going to expedite the process, though, because we aren’t victims here.

            If a woman wants to nurse in public, no matter how she does it, then fine. But she can’t expect everyone to be on her side about it, regardless of the fact that it’s not illegal to do.

            And if a woman doesn’t want to nurse in public for whatever reason, then fine. It doesn’t make her weak or unwilling to promote the rights of nursing women.

            So I guess in the end, to quote a person worth quoting, the difference is meaningless. Who cares whether a woman chooses to nurse and where and how it’s done, and who cares what other people think about it? We all get to go home and sleep in safety. The point of concern is that there are those in the world (possibly Alan and you, based on your comments) who think the difference matters enough to the point where we think it’s a crime that those who disapprove (of that/how a woman nurses her baby) are being rude. Chalk it up to cultural, generational, regional, or educational hang-ups, but in the end, it really doesn’t matter. If a woman is determined enough to breastfeed her baby, she will find a way that works for her baby and her.

          • Poogles

            Exactly, Tiffany.

          • Lori

            Wait, where did I ever say anyone was oppressed? I might use that word if his wife was say, not allowed to freely do as she pleases, but since she can, and it seems does, it is not oppression. I just reject the notion that was going on upthread that a woman who decides not to visit relatives who are super grossed out about her breastfeeding a small infant is willfully alienating her family. Your long reply conveniently ignores that’s what the discussion was originally about. Also, nice try at implying I must be some hooter shakin’, breastfeeding vigilante (the one you always hear about who nurses topless, back arched whilst casting sultry glances at male passersby) just because I called bullshit on the aforementioned notion of everyone else’s “discomfort” being the mother’s problem. Reminds me of when people new here imply Dr. Amy is clearly a formula feeder trying to justify her decisions. Maybe I only breastfeed while out in a locked bathroom stall while wearing a nun’s habit, maybe I don’t breastfeed at all, whatever, doesn’t make my argument any less valid.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            You know what, Lori? You just seem out of control. Nowhere did I ever say that YOU said anyone was oppressed. I read every bit of what the discussion was about, and I just decided to put my toe in to say that Poogles has a valid point and to share some other thoughts that I felt were relevant to the conversation.

            Seems like you are taking things way out of context. I never implied anywhere that you were anything other than maybe being a little too sensitive to someone’s suggestion that it wouldn’t hurt anyone to try to consider other people’s feelings (gasp) when breastfeeding.

            Why is it so difficult for you conceive that if people–not just nursing mothers but everyone–just thought about someone else for one, then maybe more progress in the area of kindness would be made more quickly?

            The way that you are being is really a put-off. If I were anti-BF, you certainly wouldn’t help me to change my mind.

          • Lori

            “The way that you are being is really a put-off. If I were anti-BF in public, you certainly wouldn’t help me to change my mind.”
            Glad the tone argument has finally arrived, helps me know I’ve made a solid case, I mean, despite being so out of control. ;-P

            And for reference, it was the following quote I was referring to with regards to the comment on being oppressed. “Wailing about being the victim isn’t going to expedite the process, though, because we aren’t victims here.”

            My reply was to clarify that I don’t think someone not liking a mother’s breastfeeding choices amounts to oppression, something I occasionally butt heads with some “lactivists” on. Since you also made references to civil rights and what not in the same comment I wanted to set the record straight.

          • theNormalDistribution

            Uhhh… Okay, so the “tone argument” refers to arguing that your point is invalid simply because you didn’t say it nicely enough. You were too angry, or too rude, or too mean. That’s not what TiffanyEpiphany was saying. She was saying that your extreme stance, while maybe technically correct, is not particularly useful. In fact, that was the point that the bulk of her posts were trying to get across. If you had listened to what she was trying to say instead of obtusely looking for things she may or may not have been implying about you so you could strawman them, you would have understood that.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Thank you. I appreciate this.

          • Lori

            First, she literally said I am being off putting or whatever and that attitude wouldn’t change her mind, if in fact she didn’t agree with breastfeeding in public already. That = tone argument if ya ask me.

            Second, how is mine an “extreme stance”? I ask that sincerely, since my summarized position from above boils down to, yeah, some people are uncomfortable, being considerate of others is great but you won’t ever meet everyone’s comfort levels, thus, the onus ultimately falls on the individual to be concerned with their social distress not everyone around them. Oh and that I just can’t be too arsed to care much about the so called extreme distress one faces being in the same room as a nursing mother. The last part IS a tad rude of me perhaps, but factual.

            I guess I don’t really care if it turns out I’m in some fringe minority of people who think that but, based on my observations around here and places I’ve traveled, I would say those are not really the positions of a militant lactivist or something.

          • theNormalDistribution

            Click.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Okay, thank you, this helps me understand better. My “victims wailing” comment was more of a personal outburst than a direct attack. My overstepping was not intentional, and I didn’t mean for it to come across the wrong way. My apologies.

          • Lori

            No worries, and no need to apologize. I’ve kind of delurked here in part as an exercise to grow a bit of a thicker skin because I got a kind of sweet gig writing for the local paper (opinion pieces) and I found myself holding back a lot fearing the wrath of the online comments that follow. I don’t want to be deliberately non-controversial in all my articles because I am intimidated by the negative comments so, since this particular topic always gets my ire up, I joined the fray. Soo, in that spirit, don’t hold back! ;oP

          • Leica

            This. I do generally use a cover, but if someone were that uncomfortable about it, I’d suggest that THEY avoid the situation – by not being around us. If it’s important to them to want to see my baby, they can get over it. He needs to be fed when he needs to be fed. Fortunately our families are all great about it, but someone else’s discomfort is not my problem.

          • Poogles

            “Or, what if they just ya know, decided to get over it?”

            Well, certainly. Doesn’t seem like much of a possibility from what Alan has said, but that would be ideal.

            “we mean “uncomfortable” as in maybe how I’d feel if my grandparents made out in front of me or something.”

            Absolutely, and some people are made very, very uncomfortable by PDA. Enough so that they may decide to avoid certain people/couples if it has been made clear to them that hanging out with those particular people/couples means they are likely to see them making-out, and they refuse to keep the PDA “discreet”. The difference, of course, being that a baby needs to be fed when hungry, one way or another, while making-out is easy to “re-schedule”, lol.

            I guess, for me, it boils down to seeing the situation from both sides – it really sucks to be in a situation that makes you very uncomfortable and not be able to do anything about it. It also sucks that feeding a baby at the breast happens to make certain others very uncomfortable. No one is willing to budge or compromise and so the result is broken-down relationships.

            “many of the alternatives you suggested in your comments would cause significant inconvenience […] and maybe actual physical discomfort”

            Well, I would say half of my suggestions do, since I only mentioned four and the other two (use a cover or relocate to another comfortable room – not the bathroom) don’t seem to cause “significant” inconvenience or physical discomfort. Also, I wasn’t really imagining skipping a feed, since I know that brings it’s own problems, I meant more along the lines of scheduling a visit in between feeds (obviously, in the early months, this would mean either very short visits or no visits at all until feedings are more spaced out). Those are just the options I, myself, would consider if I was in that situation. Obviously, many women disagree with those options, which really only leaves the two options we started with for the woman to make: very uncomfortable relatives (and possibly more drama), or no visiting (and the damage to relationships that seems to be causing in Alan’s wife case).

          • Lori

            Yes, I understand the value of trying to see it from both sides, which I pretty much did when I considered an example of a social situation which would make me feel uncomfortable, thus the grandparent make out scenario. That’s why I can’t feel to bad for those poor poor family members because I realized that if that ever happened I would just remember I have a neck and point my eyes in a different direction. Easy! Perhaps that’s why comments like, “feeding a baby at the breast happens to make certain others very uncomfortable,” make me roll my eyes so hard. Just how uncomfortable can something that you can simply look away from make a person? Maybe I am just one tough gal because it would rank like a 0.5 on my scale being as it causes absolutely zero physical discomfort.

          • Becky05

            I agree that it should have been fine for your wife to simply feed the baby, but it sounds like that boundary wasn’t set in a way that was likely to bring cooperation. If you come off like you’re educating or correcting someone, they’re not going to respond very well.

          • They were the ones who corrected her. She was just quietly nursing the baby on the couch.

      • Jessica

        I am totally jealous of the mothers who can nurse their babies whenever, wherever, with no cover. The first two months of nursing latching the kid on was such process that a cover just got in the way and I was too exposed without one to feel comfortable, and thereafter the kid got too hot under the cover. Now he likes to randomly pop off and look around the room about 10 times during a nursing session, which is hilarious at home but would be embarrassing anywhere else.

        • This is exactly why we need to try to eliminate the social stigma: Babies at a certain age are going to do that.

          • Poogles

            “This is exactly why we need to try to eliminate the social stigma: Babies at a certain age are going to do that.”

            Which is all well and good, and I agree. Please keep in mind, however, that some women are too personally modest to go without a cover in public, regardless of how people will react, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

          • Jessica

            Exactly. I have absolutely no desire to have my breasts on display while my curious infant checks out his surroundings before getting back to business. So baby eats at home before we leave, or in our car, or in another room at someone’s home. I’m perfectly okay with that.

          • Klain

            It’s even worse when they decide to check out their surroundings while still eating.

          • It is certainly their absolute right. It does however help reinforce the oppressive social mores I bemoan, so I can’t agree that there’s nothing wrong with it. When it becomes a quaint thing like keeping one’s shoulders covered in public, I will shrug it off as harmless prudery.

          • AmyP

            Yeah, it’s one thing to nurse uncovered in a setting where you know everybody, but it would be very unpleasant and frightening to be out in public nursing and to find a pervert circling. That would be exactly the situation (trying to feed the baby and perhaps encumbered with other children) where one wouldn’t be able to take offensive or evasive action.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Agreed. Alan, look! I agreed with someone else who didn’t totally agree with you! It IS possible to see things from both sides and AGREE instead of make accusations. (I think I need to go to bed, so I’m sorry if you’re even further disappointed in me than before.)

          • thepragmatist

            Exactly! I live in a very liberal area and I just don’t feel like anyone except my husband (and son) should see my breasts. It’s MY choice. I don’t think anyone should cover up but I don’t look and I don’t like it particularly. But I also just don’t look and don’t judge, because who cares?

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Agreed. Alan, I agree with you!

          • 🙂

        • thepragmatist

          I just didn’t feel comfortable nursing in public for that reason. My son was a wiggly nurser with a frenelum tie who liked to lay belly to belly with me and who, if he couldn’t, would pop on and off and on and off. Best thing ever for me was a sling. I could nurse him the sling and no one would notice. I’m such a dirty hippie. Ha.

      • Karen in SC

        I nursed my infant at an international gaming convention attended by thousands of people, mainly high school and college age guys. (was 36 at the time).

        My good friend, Steve, was with us most of that time. He was single. Finally, on the third day, he said, “Is that all he does, sleep and suck your nipple? What a life!”

        Other parents there kept remarking about the education I was giving the younger guys. LOL

      • Guestl

        I nursed my daughter wherever and whenever, well into toddlerhood, with nary a sideye cast, and never used a cover. It’s formula feeding mothers who are disparaged where I live. Breastfeeding mothers, for the most part, are seen as being “better.” More and more, I’m convinced that the judgment is not really about breast being better, or formula being “worse”, it’s about being able to weigh in on someone who makes choices that differ from yours.

    • TiffanyEpiphany

      I get what you are saying, I really do. You are approaching AP in an intelligent way, so that makes it more okay than those who approach AP in an ignorant way. But the fact that you are a self-proclaimed AP parent makes one of the points that Dr. Amy is making. Your “rightness” about it all comes off as an effort to be superior to others, which is probably stemmed from a need to promote your sense of security and belonging, which may or may not be the best thing for your children.

      By the way, there’s nothing wrong with excusing one’s self to the bathroom or a different room to nurse. It’s completely understandable that others may be uncomfortable when a mother is nursing her child in public. It is no criticism to her, just a normal response.

      In our time and culture, it’s not a normal thing for mothers to nurse their babies, especially in public. So when a mother chooses to nurse, part of the deal is accepting the fact that others might not be okay with it.

      In a close family setting as you described, it might help if the mother asks others in the room if it’s okay if she nurses in front of them. That’s a courteous gesture. No need to self-victimize.

      And as far as the white bread story, one piece of white bread isn’t going to kill anyone.

      • me

        No, there’s nothing wrong with excusing one’s self to nurse. And there’s nothing wrong with nursing where you are. And sometimes excusing one’s self is impossible (how do I manage to excuse myself from the table of a restaurant to nurse the baby when I have my older two children with me? Do you really expect me to interrupt their meals and ask them to hang out in a small dirty bathroom, keeping in mind they are 6 and 3 and cannot be left unattended for upwards of 20 minutes?). If the mother *wants* to excuse herself, sure. But if she doesn’t want to, or if she cannot, so what?

        And, no, I don’t think it is necessary, or even polite, to ask permission to feed one’s baby at a close family gathering. First, only a total clod would say no, even if they ARE uncomfortable with it, so what have you accomplished? Second, by asking permission you are calling attention to what you are doing, which may make those who otherwise would not have even noticed uncomfortable.

        I’m discreet (no I don’t use a cover, the baby just kicks off whatever blanket you are using anyway, at least once he/she is past about 2 mos old), but really, I’ve only excused myself when I wanted and was able to, and I’ve never asked permission from others to feed my crying infant. I do set limits on NIP as the child gets older, as part of the weaning process, but that is based on MY comfort level, not the delicate sensibilities of complete strangers (most of whom will find *something* to be “offended” over no matter what you do).

        • TiffanyEpiphany

          Dear me, Really well put.

          I would also like to add, respectfully, that there’s nothing wrong with formula feeding, either, especially when you have two older children and eat out in public without a support person (husband, partner, friend). Things can get real hectic real fast in that kind of a situation when a mother’s baby is hungry or fussy and only takes breast milk, yet the mother has other supervision responsibilities but yet is also is determined to BF whenever, just not in small dirty bathrooms (understandably).

          .

          Sure, if the nursing mother doesn’t want to excuse herself, then so what. What does it matter to anyone else? I’m just saying that, although the bathroom in general is not the ideal place to nurse–and as some might add, a disgusting place to do anything other than go to the bathroom–it can be a viable option for nursing mothers who are self-conscious about what others think of them when they BF in public.

          If there’s a will there’s a way, I guess. It doesn’t make it right, and it certainly feels discriminatory to nursing mothers, but I just wanted to make a point to Alan’s original comment about how there’s no need to act like “how dare everyone cause a stink because my wife nursed in front of everyone.” That’s just the way it is sometimes.

          If they don’t want to live with the aftermath of disapproving people, there are other options, as unsanitary as they might be at times (and again I say, it’s not like nursing one’s child in the bathroom means that you’re sticking their tongue in the toilet water or anything).

          • “If they don’t want to live with the aftermath of disapproving people, there are other options”

            I think we’ve lost sight of the point behind what I posted: namely, that official advice is not as powerful as social mores. Your post just helps illustrate that.

            In pretty much every state, from deep blue to dark red, legislators have taken the time to affirmatively write, move through committee, and pass laws, signed by governors, that specifically protect a woman’s right to nurse in public, even if her breast is exposed. Yet this is way ahead of where the average American is in their sense of social norms. It is as I say an interesting dichotomy, but it really illustrates that it is not about what “official advice” says, for most people.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Yes, exactly. It’s not illegal for women to nurse in public. So why care about what others think? Exactly.

            But it seemed to me that part of your point in your original post was that you just couldn’t believe the lashback you and your wife received from your family just because your wife nursed in front of them. Quote: “When my wife started nursing her in a way I’d call reasonably discreet
            (but not using a blanket or “hooter hider”), it touched off a family
            scandal that still resonates to this day.”

            So all I’m trying to say is that if it bothers you that much, she doesn’t have to nurse in front of others. It’s not illegal to go nurse somewhere else. And it’s certainly not illegal to consider other people’s comfort levels, though not too many people consider the comfort levels of the nursing mother, admittedly.

          • Susan

            I guess I am a lactavist at heart still because as long as anyone feels it is more polite to feed her child in the bathroom rather than let someone see them nursing I think we have work to do. If more moms feed babies in public less people will find it distressing to see a nursing baby.

          • I don’t think nursing in the bathroom is a great idea because apart from anything else, other people are waiting to use the cubicles. That said, if it’s the only place a mother feels comfortable nursing, I guess it’s okay.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Yes, it certainly could be considered rude to hog up a cubicle for non-bathroom activities. But here’s where I would like to ask: where else can a nursing mother have privacy (for the sake of her child, herself, and/or others)? Her car? Sure. But sometimes the bathroom (yes, gross) is closer.

            And, yes, this is where raising awareness of the nursing mother’s dilemmas has its significance.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Well said, and how true.

    • A.

      I think white bread is gross unless toasted. But I would think you are weird too for bringing your own special food. And it’s insulting.

    • Elle

      The point is not AP…it’s superiority. When you bring your own food to someone’s house, for a reason other than a legitimate allergy, you’re basically saying “What you have prepared and served for us is not good enough for us.” So basically what you’re teaching your kids is that politeness to relatives is nowhere near as important as them missing out on whole wheat bread one time. That one meal is more important than everyone else’s feelings. Can you see why some of us aren’t entirely favorable towards the AP label?

      • VeritasLiberat

        I bring along food for my kid on the spectrum, but that’s because she’s really picky and if I don’t get SOMETHING in her her behavior goes downhill. When she gets older, she can be responsible for preparing her own alternate food if she wants it. My other kid will usually try whatever is there.

    • I don’t have a creative name

      Bringing food to other people’s house, because theirs isn’t good
      enough for you? The fact that you think their reaction is THEIR problem
      and not an indicator of your own rude self-centeredness is astonishing.

      And it’s rude to nurse with your boobs hanging out in public. I nursed in
      public with an Aden and Anais cover – very lightweight and breathable. I
      even put it over my own head (at home) while we were nursing, a few
      times, to make sure baby would be comfortable… I was comfortable
      under it, so I felt confident baby would be too. There is also going to
      another room to nurse, when people are around. Done that too. But
      I’ve noticed it’s become a challenge thrown out to the world with some
      women – they just let it all hang out, and are looking around at
      everyone, as if daring them to comment. You may have thought it was
      “reasonably discreet”, but clearly other people didn’t. Why is it only
      your and your wife’s feelings matter, and no one else’s? When people
      think your behavior is OTT, the answer is not to consider their
      education level, but to consider whether or not your behavior was OTT.
      You seem to lack self-awareness.

      • Alenushka

        I never used any covers. My kid did not like them ad I found them acward . But I nothing really visible witht he nursing top or even with a lift of the t-shirt.

        • VeritasLiberat

          Me too. I mostly wore loose flowing shirts that covered things up, so I could lift up the t-shirt undrneath and still be covered.

          I think the most reasonable way to proceed would be for everyone to treat each other the way they would want a friend to be treated. So if you’re nursing, make a reasonable attpt not to make others uncomfortable. And if you are a bystandeh and you happen to see mre than you wanted, pretend you didn’t. 🙂

      • “You seem to lack self-awareness” That, my friend, is the understatement of the year!

      • me

        Let me guess, you only have one child and you weaned pretty early on.

        • I don’t have a creative name

          Wrong on the first part. Weaned at 11 mo, 5 mo, and 6 mo, so I guess it depends what you mean by early. Would’ve liked to keep going longer the second two times, but circumstances didn’t permit. You seem to think my opinion is of someone lacking experience in nursing; I don’t believe that’s the case. I just want people to show consideration for others.

          • me

            There once was a time when it was considered lewd, inappropriate, and provocative for women to wear pants in public. The mere sight made others “uncomfortable”. Now pants are the norm for women…. How did we get there? By women risking offending the delicate sensibilities of morons in order to make their own choices? Or by women scurrying off like cockroaches and kowtowing to the whims of others under the guise of being “considerate”?

            Food for thought…

          • I don’t have a creative name

            “Morons”. How nice.

            Hey, you know what? You just keep right on doing what you’re doing. Go ahead and lift your entire shirt up with the idea that anyone who doesn’t like it can just go to hell because only YOU matter. And I will keep preferring that people be allowed to nurse wherever they like and just show a little bit of discretion. Problem solved.

          • GuestB

            I’m with you. It’s not hard to show a little discretion. I always covered up when I breastfed. I don’t care that its “natural”, its just “feeding the baby”, it’s still a naked part of your body. A boob is a boob is a boob – no matter what you’re using it for.
            Creating children is the most natural thing in the world – does that mean it’s OK to do it in public? Are people just supposed to “suck it up” then? Avert their eyes? “But we’re just MAKING the baby!” Would that fly? It just never made sense to me.
            And just for the record, I breastfed my kids anywhere, anytime. Took my dad and FIL some time to to get used to it, but I don’t think either one of them ever saw a boob. It just seems like commom sense to me.

          • me

            So I take it you write letters to beer companies complaining that they use boobs in their advertising, no? You see more flesh in your average beer commercial than you do when your average mother in nursing her child.

            And comparing feeding your baby to sex demonstrates just how far we have left to go. Not to mention it is an absurd example. You don’t NEED to have sex, and certainly you don’t need to have sex in public. A baby does need to eat and depending on the age of the child in question, they may need to eat while you are out in public. No, it’s not “hard” to show a little discretion…. but you need to define what you mean by “little discretion”. It’s a subjective term. So what, in your mind, constitutes a “little discretion”? What if someone disagrees with your particular definition? Then who gets to decide? Wouldn’t’ it be simpler to let women do with their bodies what they are comfortable doing then to try to impose some ill-defined, subjective standard?

          • GuestB

            Yes! I do write letters to beer companies! All day long, as a matter of fact. I’m just about to send off my 6th one today. Anyone want to join me? It’s such a good worthwhile cause.

          • me

            Ah sarcasm. The last refuge of the damned. 🙂

            I know you understood my point, you are deliberately avoiding it. You cannot define “a little discretion” because it is a subjective thing. Heck, some people are offended by bfing, period (you seem to be one of them since you’ve equated it with having sex). Even if a woman used a cover or scurried off to another room, those people would still feel “uncomfortable”. Since their precious feelings are so important to you, I ask you, how do we protect them? Should we bother? At what point do we draw the line?

            What is wrong with living you life, doing what you are comfortable with, and, so long as it is not harming anyone, not letting “what other people might think” dictate what you do? Look, I am a considerate person, I do care about other people’s feelings. But I will not allow what some hypothetical stranger may/may not be offended by determine how I live my life. If you are more comfortable going to another room or using a cover while you bf, by all means, do so. If you are doing that simply because you might offend someone else, you can still do it of course, but don’t pretend that because *you* are willing to subject yourself to whims of other people’s emotions that everyone else need to be too.

          • GuestB

            I really wasn’t trying to avoid your point – honest. I probably typed out 6 replies to you and I erased all of them. I don’t write as clearly or eloquently as most people here. So I wrote what comes easiest for me – sarcasm.

            I will try to state my case. The reason I used the sex example is because when people are defending BIP, the explanation I hear most often is “but it’s NATURAL!” Of course it is, but so are other things that are not considered acceptable in public. I breastfed both my kids in public many many times. It’s not the act of feeding the child, per se, it’s the women who literally lift up their shirt, whip out the boob, and take 5 minutes to get the kid latched on. I am no prude, but I just don’t need to see nipples out and about like that. Once the kid is latched on, it is very easy to be discreet. I never had a problem. And most women don’t. But once again, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to somewhat cover up at least for the first minute or so while envy one is getting settled.

          • GuestB

            Ps – I am not at all offended by breast feeding (how could I be. I breastfed 2 kids for one year each. Hard to be offended by something I did myself) and I am certainly not offended by sex, either. Just sex in public. 🙂

          • I think I may have detected a fellow iPad user who, like me, composes their comments using voice dictation. Am I right?

          • GuestB

            Actually no. I’m just a crappy typist. But do all iPads have that? Must try it!

          • me

            “The reason I used the sex example is because when people are defending
            BIP, the explanation I hear most often is “but it’s NATURAL!””

            Fair enough, that IS perhaps the most weak argument. But you’ll notice I have not used it 😉 My argument is that nursing a child is simply feeding a baby, it is not sexual, it is not gross, it is not exhibitionist. It is necessary if one has any desire to follow the “official advice” (well, at least if they want to leave the house anytime in that 6 mos of exclusive nursing). The vast majority of women who NIP are already extremely “discrete” about it (cover or no) and have even less desire for strangers to see their nipples than strangers have to see them. And since concepts like modesty and discretion are subjective you will never please everyone, so it seems ridiculous to try. Do what makes you comfortable; odds are you will be perfectly discrete. And even if there is some accidental exposure, they are just boobs. I hate to say it, but people seriously need to grow up. Breasts are secondary sex characteristics. We’re not talking about exposed genitals here (which is why comparisons to public sex, urination, or defecation fall flat). And the hypocrisy of getting upset over a woman feeding her baby on a park bench, exposing little, if ANY, of her breast, while not batting an eyelash at the woman whose boobs are crammed in a push up bra under a low cut top, exposing far more flesh than the nursing mother, is the problem.

            I contend that it is not the level of exposure people *really* take issue with (even tho they vehemently insist that it is); rather, it is the fact that a woman is using her breasts to feed her baby that offends these people. And that sentiment should not be catered to. What you describe (someone totally exposing the entire breast for upwards of 5 minutes; did you really time her?) is something I have never seen, and while it may exist, what exactly is the point of discussing outliers here? There are people who take things to the extreme in every imaginable area of life. Some women let their thongs hang out the back of their pants (whale tails). I think that’s disgusting and inappropriate. Do we tell all women not to wear thongs because some women insist on exposing their underpants? I prefer to say, let everyone have the freedom to choose what they do with their own body, yes some might get “offended”, but so what? Who ever said people had the right to never get offended?

          • GuestB

            OK, that would be pretty funny (and quite disturbing) if I did time her!
            Sorry – I never said that you used the “it’s natural” argument – it’s just one that I’ve heard way too many times.
            I really do see your point. There are some women who are outliers…and they are probably the ones I take the most issue with. But you are right that those rare occurances should not dictate how to behave. Like I (think) I said before, most women are perfectly discreet about it, and I think that is a GOOD thing.
            This has been a very interesting and enlightening conversation – thanks!

          • My argument is that nursing a child is simply feeding a baby, it is not sexual, it is not gross, it is not exhibitionist.

            That was my argument about the beaches of the Med – where it is acceptable for breasts to be on display, no-one is offended.

            For any bf mother, you are feeding your baby, and others should just get that. But they don’t, and presumably cannot help seeing it as sexual, gross, exhibitionist, lacking in taste or consideration or something or other. If it were more common, people would stop bothering, and if they don’t, it is indeed their problem.

            I used to have a girlfriend who was notorious for feeling the need to strip anytime she had a few drinks. Exhibitionists are not rare – and as far as I am concerned, the in your face militant b feeders are doing nobody any favours. I didn’t get far with bf my own, but can get quite militant about women being able to bf in public. Not much time for it being compulsory though – in public or private. It has benefits. They are small, and not all that significant.

          • Esther

            The point of those beer ads ( which I’d probably complain about if I were to see any) in showing so much female skin is to get men to ogle. Hardly the point of BFIP, at least for most women, I hope.

          • me

            But the point is, we accept the beer ads as normal, but complain that the NIP women aren’t “discrete enough”. Talk about backwards.

          • me

            So people who think women should wear skirts or dresses and that pants are an abomination aren’t “morons”? What would you call them then? Personally, I think it is moronic to be that hung up on what someone else decides to wear. YMMV.

            The only way to make NIP be viewed as normal is to actually do it. Your attitude (there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” and only your way is, apparently, the “right way”) makes women feel self-conscious about NIP when they otherwise wouldn’t. Especially when you can’t seem to define what that “right way” is exactly. And you also can’t seem to come up with a logical reason why everyone in the world should be subjected to your personal standard of modesty, much less the personal standard of modesty of some hypothetical stranger.

            It boils down to this: if *you* aren’t comfortable NIP/NIP without a cover/wearing pants/wearing a sleeveless top/wearing sandals then YOU don’t have to do it. You aren’t the modesty police. You don’t get to decide what other people are comfortable with. Since none of the above is inappropriate by any stretch of the imagination, you can just do what polite adults do when they see someone doing something that, while harmless, makes them psychologically uncomfortable: grow up, realize it is YOUR hangup, and move on.

            Nice ad hominem, tho. Your accusing me of lifting my “entire shirt” while YOU nurse in public “properly” doesn’t make your argument (whatever it might be, you haven’t really bothered debating the point) any stronger. Did it ever occur to you that what you find “wildly inappropriate” others might not take issue with, and what you don’t take issue with, some will find wildly inappropriate? That is the trouble with getting your knickers in a twist over things that are NOYB – what standard are we supposed to use? For some groups of people, a woman who is not covered from crown to toe in a burka is lewd, inappropriate, even sinful. Should that be the standard? Why is YOUR personal standard of modesty somehow better?

          • I don’t have a creative name

            “And you also can’t seem to come up with a logical reason why everyone
            in the world should be subjected to your personal standard of modesty”

            This is stupid, as is the comment about “modesty police”. I never said anyone should be subjected to anything. All I’m saying is that it’s nice for women to be considerate of people by wearing garments that will cover more instead of less when nursing. I nurse with a cover in public, I let it all hang out at home. But when FIL came over to meet our baby girl, I didn’t sneer at his conservative standards as “the modesty police”. Instead I got the cover, turned my swivel chair to the wall to latch her on, and was COMPLETELY neat and covered before I turned around, because I knew that’s how he would be most comfortable. I’m only suggesting that you take other people’s feelings into account. If you don’t like doing that, then by all means, carry on.

          • me

            But what you describe is a specific instance of you responding to someone you know (and care about) who you know would have an issue with it otherwise. And you chose to accommodate him. Yes, it’s “nice” for everyone to be considerate of everyone else all the time. Now, can we leave Sesame St. and return to the real world for a moment? As I mentioned before, there will always be *someone* who finds *something* other people are doing that makes them “uncomfortable”. Why should I be so super concerned with the sensibilities of hypothetical strangers who may/may not even exist? I cover myself to the extent that I need to to make *myself* comfortable (which is really pretty well covered, as most bfing mothers do). Whose definition of modesty am I supposed to be following? Why is my definition not good enough? You keep talking in subjective terms. That is because modesty IS subjective. Someone else said it pretty well – if you are an innocent bystander and see more than you would have liked to, pretend you didn’t notice. It’s to about not taking other people’s feelings into account; it’s about realizing that you will never please everyone and it is a waste of time and energy trying. Do what YOU are comfortable with. You weren’t comfortable with the idea of offending your ultra-conservative FIL, so you made an effort to prevent that. Nothing wrong with that. Until you insinuate that your is the only “right” way and everybody else “should” follow your example. That’s a little messed up.

          • me

            Oh yeah, you never answered my question: how do you think we got from women wearing pants being inappropriate, offensive, and “immodest” to it being perfectly normal and acceptable? Do you really think NIP will be considered normal and commonplace if women scurry off like cockroaches and “cover their shame” in an effort to protect others from some level of hypothetical psychological discomfort? What if women just NIP in a way that is right for them and let other people realize that this is normal, this is what breasts are actually for, and it is not dirty or sexual or exhibitionist or anything of the sort? What would make this less of a “hot topic”?

          • Poogles

            “By women risking offending the delicate sensibilities of morons in order to make their own choices? Or by women scurrying off like cockroaches and kowtowing to the whims of others under the guise of being “considerate”?”

            Sure, public opinion is more likely to change the more something is actually in the public’s face. Just like those women wearing pants, however, BF moms who BFIP in more “conservative” areas need to realize that doing so is opening yourself up to attention and possible criticism – that’s a price of trying to change public opinion on something. That doesn’t make the criticism “right” or excuse people who are rude to BF moms, but it is reality. How any particular woman decides to deal with that is up to her – whether that’s taking the risk or “kowtowing”.

          • me

            And that’s what I’m getting at: it’s not right to criticize/judge or put all kinds of stipulations (using a cover, being “discrete enough” (whatever that means), the child being young enough, the mother being slim enough, etc) on something that should be okay in the first place. I understand some criticism may occur, but it seems like all those who are suggesting that women *should* take measures to protect delicate sensibilities (and thereby defending those who criticize) are forgetting that the people who are taking offense to/criticizing NIP are wrong. If you *want* to cater to people who are getting offended over something that is not and should not be considered offensive, fine, but if you don’t want to cater to them, them you shouldn’t be pressured to do so. Don’t couch it in terms of being “considerate of others”. Those “others” are ignorant. Being considerate is one thing; letting the mindless opinions of fools dictate how one lives one’s life is something else entirely. I guess my point is that NIP is nerve-wracking enough, especially for an inexperienced nurser, to be told that there is some magical “right way” makes it all the more intimidating. Especially since the vast majority of nursing moms really don’t *want* to be overexposed and certainly don’t want any accidental exposure that may occur to cause undue attention on them. They (we) just want to feed our kids in peace.

          • Don’t couch it in terms of being “considerate of others”. Those “others” are ignorant.

            Well, yes. But what do you do about that?

            People have suggested that grandparents making out, gay men holding hands, etc are similar. but I think that my own analogy to attitudes to disability is nearer, because there is no element of choice. It is “natural” for people like my daughter to occasionally have meltdowns in public, or to involuntarily behave in ways that startle or disturbs other people. It is THEIR problem, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any responsibility to attempt to minimize it, or keep it in mind. Chips are down, my daughter’s wellbeing comes first, and others can just deal with their own feelings.

        • Samantha B

          I have three children. I nursed my daughter until she was 5 1/2, my older son until 13 months, and am nursing my younger son, who is 3 1/2. I agree that it’s only good manners to consider other peoples’ comfort, whether you’re feeding your baby or doing any other activity with other people present. I never nursed my kids in public once they were only nursing for comfort (toddlers/preschoolers), and when they were infants if we were around elderly people or people I knew to be very conservative, I would cover up.

          • Okay, serious question then: Should a gay couple avoid holding hands or otherwise showing that they are in a non-platonic relationship with each other (I’m not talking about wildly making out, is my point), if they are around “elderly people or people [they] knew to be very conservative”? Because those are the same people that are going to tend to be disgusted by gay relationships.

            I just don’t think those people need to be coddled, at all.

          • Esther

            No, but I would compare “wildly making out” to the “letting it hang all out” mentioned above. It’s the difference between being discreet about *how* you breastfeed/show affection rather than being discreet about *the fact* you’re breastfeeding/showing affection. A distinction many lactofanatics (like your friend Wolfmommy) don’t seem to make.

            (-by another mother of 3 who nursed 2 into toddlerhood anytime, anywhere, with never a nasty glance).

          • Wolfmommy is not my friend, more of a Twitter celebrity I know about. You may not have meant that literally, but I just wanted to clarify.

    • Alenushka

      You all deserve each other. You reject their food and their reject your way of feeding.

    • Susan

      “Do you really think that “swimming with the tide of official advice” shields a person from social reprobation?”

      I don’t. Amy quoted that part of the original article so I don’t know if she thinks that either. I questioned that part too.

      I think though the article speaks to the tendency among parents to form tribes. My thought was when my son was close, but not quite good enough, to play All Stars baseball. I didn’t feel part of the “tribe”. Human beings find things to form their identities around and as much as we should place our children front and center of what we value in life I don’t think it’s healthy for it to translate into this sort of tribalness.

      With regard to your examples I agree with the others on the white bread food stuff. You are right about your food being healthier of course. We all have to decide for ourselves where to draw these lines. I too think bringing your own food is rude.

      With regard to breastfeeding though I think there is a place for creating a new norm. It’s happened where I live. It’s now the poor women feeding formula in public who feel they are looked down upon. So it’s not so much how you feed your baby but the idiots who want to make a big issue about how others feed their babies that are the problem.

    • LibrarianSarah

      In my family unless you have a severe food allergy, if you brought your own when we had you over you had just uninvited yourself for all future meals. Seriously, even if your relatives were the “honey boo boo type people” eating their food for a weekend or even a week wouldn’t hurt your kids. You do not get to play the victim after you purposely made your family feel like their food wasn’t good enough for you.

    • Dr Kitty

      Alan, I think you’re reading the wrong blog…
      I think you’d find Miss Manners quite educational.

      Unless food will actually make you violently unwell, or is verboten for religious reasons, you try your best to eat it.

      If you know you won’t be able to eat the food, you eat before you arrive, and apologise that you simply don’t have room for any of their , no doubt delicious, food.

      If you bring food, you bring enough for everyone, or you don’t bring any at all.

      I can’t believe that you don’t know these things.

      • I am a fan of Judith Martin, but I disagree on this one. And there was plenty of food (brown rice and black beans, our family staple), and I did offer it to everyone but they declined my offer.

        Again, this was a visit of several weeks’ duration, not a dinner party.

        “Unless food will actually make you violently unwell, or is verboten for religious reasons, you try your best to eat it.”

        Would you say that to an atheistic vegetarian?

        • Dr Kitty

          I think the atheist veggie can stretch “religious reasons” to include ethical/moral ones if they wish. I can’t think of an entire meal consisting of meat, but if they couldn’t eat bread or side dishes, and their hosts were unable to cobble something acceptable together, they could quietly apologise to the hosts and eat later. One late or missed meal is rarely a problem, and if it were I would expect the atheist vegetarian to use their common sense and choose eating meat and surviving over missing a meal and dying.

          Alan, TBH, the more you write though, the less I can sympathise.
          You stayed *for weeks* cooking brown rice and beans in your relatives’ kitchen and turning down the food they made for you.

          I think what you wanted was a hotel, or a short term let. When you stay in someone’s home, things will not be like your own home. You either deal with it, or you find other accommodation. Treating their home like a hotel is not the solution.

          • We were invited for weeks and would not have been able to afford a sublet or hotel, but we did “deliver” the whole family out there for relatives to get to see the kids. We are not going to do something like that again.

            But just FYI, we arrived with a large amount of rice and beans already cooked and frozen (thawing) in coolers, and just microwaved it. We also ate meals with them, just making them low carb by setting aside buns and the like (as long as the meat wasn’t something really toxic like ham, bacon, or salami).

            Sure, by some people’s standards I’m sure we sound like the black sheep of the family. But compared to our hosts’ daughter (my cousin), whose husband was heading for jail at the time (and had previously stolen his in-laws’ hubcaps and credit cards at various points) and who herself is literally a heroin addict with AIDS, I would think the relations that simply and quietly insist on eating healthfully might not look so bad!

          • Dr Kitty

            I’m restraining myself from writing something really rude. Suffice it to say, I know some jolly interesting people with HIV, some of whom are sex workers or IV drug users. I quite enjoy my interactions with them.

            Alan, you’re just digging yourself in deeper.
            Because seriously, a bag of beans and rice and a pot requires only a ring on the stove, water and time and is at least sanitary.

            Driving thousands of miles with coolers of pre cooked, frozen rice and beans and then re freezing them on arrival is just asking for Bacillus Cereus food poisoning, and requires a lot of freezer space.

            The whole thing just sounds like a massive imposition.
            We have relatives from Africa and Australia stay with us, they are vegetarians, lactose intolerant, coeliacs and highly allergic to Cow’s milk. Knowing that ahead of time, we prepare food they can eat, go to restaurants that serve food they can enjoy, and you know, get on with it. If, on the other hand, they turned up with containers of food…yeah, no, we wouldn’t ask them back either.

          • Put it in fridge, didn’t refreeze. I read that was mostly a myth though anyway.

            Cooking beans takes many hours and steams up the kitchen.

          • Captain Obvious

            LMAO, you arrive as guests and are offered freshly prepared foods, and you bring leftover beans and rice. Am I missing something.

          • I see you still haven’t answered whether you would call a SAHM “unemployed”…

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            So, because you are better than a criminal we should be impressed?

          • Watch out, some may take offence…

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I mean seriously Alan, do you read what you write?

    • Cellist

      I think it’s a little rude to not eat what is put in front of you, when somebody has gone to the trouble of preparing you a meal ( the exception, obviously, is if you are alergic to a food). It is unlikely that one single meal containing unhealthy foods would adversely effect you or your offsprings future health.
      Either refuse the invitation if you suspect that the food served will not be acceptable to you (as you clearly suspected considering you brought your own food along). Or, invite them to your place and do the cooking yourself. Or, go to a restaurant. Or, eat elsewhere and socialise with your relatives after the meal.
      I’d be fairly put out if I had gone to the trouble of cooking a meal for the extended family, only to have certain members inform me that the food wasn’t good enough for them.

      • It was over a thousand mile trip and a several week stay, not a single dinner invitation or something like that.

        • Dr Kitty

          Hotel Alan.
          Next time, hotel.

          • Can’t do it, so next time no visit.

            I honestly did not expect the outpouring of disapprobation in response to the illustrative story about the family visit. They would be loving this, to read all these comments backing them up! LOL

            I’ve been chewing this over, and here’s a thought that occurs to me: What if the situation had been reversed? A group of extended family members comes to stay with us for several weeks (and they are certainly welcome to do so). They know before coming that we are crunchy “health nuts” who rarely eat processed foods. They are a family with average American eating habits. Do you think their kids are going to tolerate eating our wacky hippie food at mealtime? Not a chance. They would be smart, if they know the way we eat, to bring a bunch of food they know their kids find familiar and will eat.

            I’m not saying, btw, that the situations are exactly parallel. My kids have had white bread and other processed foods occasionally, and they would readily eat it if given the green light. So my point though is more that if what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander, how fair is that?

          • Durango

            Do you really not see that when you are someone’s guest it is beyond rude to refuse to eat their food? And not only that, but anticipating your rejection and coming with cooler in tow? I don’t care who is serving what, the principle is the same: showing gratitude for the nicety of being hosted.

            If a kid is picky, they are still expected to be at the table and you load them up before or after.

          • LibrarianSarah

            You admitted yourself that you are comparing apples to oranges. The problem here is you are coming in to another persons house and casting judgement on the food they eat. That is rude, insulting and kind of a shitty thing to do.

          • But I’m just “swimming with the tide of official advice”!

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I don’t believe anyone advised you to be rude to your relatives. There are diplomatic ways around this situation and I would know probably better than anyone.

          • If you are spending half a summer with relatives, isn’t it possible to discuss issues over diet in advance? Given that rejecting the food your hosts eat is likely to be a little bit contentious?

            This is in effect familiar ground in a different guise. We must all allow that anyone has the right to be as nutty, idiosyncratic and self absorbed as they wish. Demanding that we RESPECT and SUPPORT their choice may just be asking a bit much.

          • Captain Obvious

            I bet that once your kids grow up and leave the house their eating habits will change to your disappointment. So sorry to be the one to tell you. If you were there for two weeks, your family could have ate their meals without disrupting your precious diet or insulting them. But you say, your family and children are commended on their manners. At least people will tell you when they like their manners. The ones who are appalled or hurt by their manners are probably keeping quiet so as to not hurt your feelings about how they disapprove of how your kids are acting or what they are saying inappropriately.

          • Turning it round is interesting but doesn’t alter the basic premise.

            A stay of weeks is not the same as a single meal, where being offered food is rather the point. But it ought to allow time for negotiation and compromises. Turning up with your own food does fit in with what seems like your rather UNcompromising approach in general.

            As a rather picky eater who doesn’t much like being a guest anyway, my own solution would be to avoid long visits, but if their were other attractions, I would feel quite apologetic rather than expect people to change their ways to accommodate mine.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            That would be equally as rude, changing it around makes it the exact same situation. I have fructose malabsorption disorder and a salicylate allergy so there is very little I can eat and I have still never brought anything other than Mexican Coke to a relatives house no matter how long I stayed. The Mexican coke I brought by request because my aunt wanted to drink Crown and Cokes with me and she lives in a small town where it is not readily available.

          • Dr Kitty

            I’d expect your relatives to sit their kids down and say

            “Uncle Alan and his family eat different food than we do. You will do your best to be polite and eat it, and you have to try something before you can decide you don’t like it. I think it will be fun to try new foods, and if you like them we can get the recipes and make them when we get home. I want everyone on their best behaviour when we visit- got that?”

          • Sounds nice (sincerely–not intending to be sarcastic), but it strikes me as unrealistic in the real world. We health nuts just have to circle our wagons and lean on other members of our tribe, it looks like to me.

      • TheHappyPappy

        I think you’re reading a lot more into Alan’s post than he actually put there. I personally don’t eat factory-farmed meat (for ethical and health reasons) and if it’s offered I will politely refuse. If I had children, I would also ask they not be served that food. It says nothing about the person serving it, just about me and my food preferences/ parenting choices.

        It is not rude or insulting to say “Thanks, but no thanks.” Would you force-feed yourself a food you genuinely hated just to be polite? If so, more power to you but I’d rather take what I like and leave the rest. I wouldn’t be insulted if I offered someone brussel sprouts (or what have you) and they said “Oh, no thanks, I can’t stand brussel sprouts.” It’s not an insult to me or my cooking, it’s just a dietary preference. I certainly wouldn’t pitch a fit and expect them to only invite me to their house, or gag down a food they hated just to please me. That would be terribly rude of me!

        Bottom line: I agree with Alan that his relatives were being unreasonable in both cases. It is not a heinous offense to dislike certain foods, whatever the reason may be. And breasts are for feeding babies (among other things) an no woman should be shunned, shamed or insulted for choosing to use them for that purpose. Some people just need to quit being overly sensitive and looking for excuses to pull power trips.

    • TheHappyPappy

      Geez, Alan, I’m sorry everyone is piling on you like this. I’m with you, personally! I mentioned below I don’t eat factory-farmed meat, which means I often have to politely say no to my uncle and his family at holiday gatherings. I think as long as you’re not climbing on a soapbox and lecturing the rest of your relatives about what they should eat (which I would never do, and I don’t get the impression you did) then it’s perfectly acceptable to say “no thank you” to food you don’t like. I don’t think it should matter why you don’t like it, if it grosses you out you shouldn’t HAVE to eat it.

      I can’t stand Jello myself. It’s revolting to me, not just because it’s disgustingly unhealthy but also because I find the taste and texture vile. Would everyone else in this thread really think I was unforgivably rude if I declined it as a dessert? Would you really expect me to eat something I genuinely hate just to be polite? I would NEVER do that to someone else. I would consider it incredibly rude, pushy and domineering to force my food choices on someone else when they calmly told me “I don’t want any, thank you.”

      Choosing not to eat certain foods because you believe they are unhealthy is totally valid. As far as I’m concerned, bullying or guilting someone into eating food they believe is unhealthy is no different than trying to guilt your vegetarian relative into eating meat because “This is what I prepared for you and you’re in my house. What, my food’s not good enough for you?” That’s a power trip and it’s not OK, no matter how you try to justify it. Refusing to make even the tiniest concession to someone else’s lifestyle choices is much, MUCH more rude (IMO) than just saying “no thanks” and making your own arrangements.

      Power to the Picky, Alan! We’re alone against a multitude. 🙂

      • Thanks THP!

      • Amazed

        Err, if you haven’t noticed, no one was picking up on Alan because he chose not to eat certain foods. The problem was with the fact that he’s sooo high and mighty that he brought his own food which is impolite, to say the least. And then he lept digging himself into a deeper hole. I am disgusted, disgusted by his comments how good his and his family are compared to the relatives they were with. Hey, if they are so low why are you going to spend weeks with them? Could it be that you talk like this because you want to feel that wifey, kiddies and your worthy self are so infinitely better than someone?

        By the way, I have food alergies. Never in my life have I brought my own food anywhere. There’s always been something that I could eat. As I mentioned, my mother was very mindful of my brother’s diet but that was because a mouthful of the wrong food could send him to the hospital with life-threatening condition. Gives a whole new meaning to the whine “I just want my kids to eat healthy and that’s why it’s perfectly fine to insult our hosts”, eh?