“Beautiful” or “Extreme”?

The newest issue of Time magazine offers a cover that’s sure to stir up debate in parenting circles.

A lovely, blonde, 26-year-old stay-at-home mom from Los Angeles is portrayed breastfeeding her three-year-old son, who’s standing on a chair to reach mom’s milk.

The mother justifies still nursing her young child with the fact that her own mother didn’t wean her until she was six!

Now, I’m way past the nursing stage. My son is 21 years old, in college, and by all definitions, a man. But I find myself disturbed by “attachment parenting,” something concocted by Dr. Bill Sears 20 years ago.

“Attachment parenting” proponents believe moms should rush to their child, respond to its every cry, form close bonds by hovering physical contact, let the child sleep in its parents’ bed, and carry children in slings rather than pushing them in strollers.

That goes against the grain of what I learned about child care.

I believe children grow and mature when they learn they’re able to do things for themselves. Things like sleeping. And eating.

Domer’s pediatrician told me when my son was just about to turn over his first birthday that the bottle had to go, or I’d have trouble weaning him. He also said rocking and singing to Domer every night before bedtime was nice but unnecessary, suggesting I put my son in the crib, turn out the light, and shut the door.

Doc (bless him!) was right on both counts.

So it concerns me when I read about a three-year-old still nursing. I mean, this child has teeth, for crying out loud! Not only that, but most kids three years old are in day care or preschool. Do they expect mom to show up periodically for feedings there?

And another thing. What psychological effect does breastfeeding have on the development of a young child, if that child is almost old enough to realize what’s happening? Doesn’t it become more than mere “food” when a child is walking, talking, interacting with others, thinking, and reasoning?

Years ago, I came into contact with a woman who admitted breastfeeding her four-year-old child “occasionally. I thought that was odd. Now I learn some breastfeeding proponents are hoping American moms will become comfortable nursing children of any age!

Seriously? Are we supposed to follow them to college, too? Maybe they can nurse on us while their kids nurse on them!

I didn’t buy into this “trend” when Domer was little, and I’m not buying it now. It’s like these moms are finding their sole mission in life being tethered to their kids. Making decisions for them. Refusing to let them grow up. Refusing to welcome their own next stage of life.

Parenting means giving your kids roots and wings. Roots to ground them. Wings to fly.

“Attachment parenting” prolongs the baby stage, which is already long enough, isn’t it?

What do you think? Is breastfeeding beyond babyhood beautiful, or is it extreme?