What’s the main difference between Dr. Amy and The Alpha Parent

Psychology, Self Confidence Coaching

Allison Dixley, self proclaimed “Alpha Parent,” is in a snit. Several women have dared to write books about new motherhood that attempt to soothe the hysteria over breastfeeding. Apparently these writers point out that in first world countries the benefits of breastfeeding are small, many women find breastfeeding painful and difficult, and not all babies can get enough nutrition from exclusive breastfeeding. Dixley is incensed and attempts to rip them to shreds. In doing so, she exposes the principal difference between herself and me: no, not the fact that I have years of scientific and medical education, and Allison has none, although that is indeed a major difference. The principal difference is that Dixley’s self-image rests largely on whether or not she is right about the value of breastfeeding; mine does not.

I’m not emotionally invested in determining the magnitude of the benefits and hardships of breastfeeding because I’ve already done it quite successfully. I breastfed 4 children, despite working ridiculous hours, until each weaned him or herself. I had very few difficulties, a booming milk supply, and babies who fed easily and avidly, although I did have several serious bouts of mastitis (temp of 104, shaking chills, etc). In Allison Dixley’s world I’m a goddess! My breastfeeding “accomplishments” far exceeding hers and most the women she profiles. However, I understood even then that it was largely a matter of good luck on my part, in addition to my commitment. My children are grown now and it is easy to see that breastfeeding didn’t have any impact on how they turned out. My self esteem never rested on breastfeeding success, even though I achieved breastfeeding success.

Dixley would have you believe that she is a better parent than women who couldn’t breastfeed, had insurmountable difficulties breastfeeding, or simply didn’t want to breastfeed. And since her self esteem appears to be directly proportional to the benefits she attributes to breastfeeding, she is deeply emotionally (not to mention professionally) invested in shaming women who don’t copy her. I, on the other hand, devote tremendous effort battling the shame, blame and soul-sucking criticism that Dixley and her lactivist sisters heap on women who don’t mirror their own choices back to them.

Simply put, Allison Dixley NEEDS breastfeeding to be critical to child wellbeing because if it isn’t, she’s just another mother, no better than the rest of us. She cannot look objectively at the scientific evidence about breastfeeding since if it isn’t as important as she maintains it is, she loses her self-awarded designation of “alpha parent.” In contrast, it makes no difference to me. I did it. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose by beating women over the head with my “achievement,” but I don’t do it because I know the scientific evidence simply doesn’t support such preening.

Unfortunately, new mothers are exquisitely vulnerable to the efforts of Dixley and her lactivist sisters to boost their own self-esteem by battering the self-esteem of others. Dixley is thoroughly untrustworthy on the subject of breastfeeding because her critical thinking skills are immobilized by her emotionally neediness. In contrast, there is no downside for me in telling the truth that the scientific evidence shows that while breastfeeding has real benefits in first world countries, those benefits are trivial; therefore, breastfeeding is not the holy grail of new motherhood, merely one of two ways to completely and successfully nourish a baby.

Who is more likely to provide you with accurate information about breastfeeding? Allison Dixley who can only be an alpha parent if breastfeeding is absolutely critical to infant wellbeing? Or me, medically trained, fully apprised of the scientific literature and able to understand it, as well as a woman who successfully breastfed 4 children and doesn’t think it makes me a better mother than anyone else? It’s up to you to decide.