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Are We Mom Enough? Babble Voices Tackles the Time Cover

By babbleeditors |

“Are you mom enough?”

It’s a question that could make any unwitting participant in the Mommy Wars raise her shield and hunker down for battle. Tomorrow’s Time magazine cover poses this question, headlining a piece on how the rise of attachment parenting has redefined the way many view the relationship between mother and baby.

Is Time fanning the flames of the media-perpetuated Mommy Wars? Is it better, as parents with platforms like blogs and Twitter and email, to fight back or ignore an unabashedly controversial headline? Babble Voices bloggers weigh in on the cover heard round the stroller circuit:

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor (Baby On Bored: Electric Boogaloo)

Personally, I think that getting up in arms about an article that dares to look at attachment parenting, and how it’s made a lot of moms feel a whole ton of guilt, is self-defeating! Don’t you think that “fighting back” is only perpetuating the idea that we are all constantly fighting? What exactly is this fighting back against?

Katherine Stone (Strollerderby)

I’m actually not even interested in fighting back regarding attachment parenting. I’m interested in fighting back against the media continually attempting to put moms at odds with each other, regardless of the topic. I want them to stop. I want to show a bunch of amazing mothers who say they respect each other’s choices.

Megan Jordan (Threadbare Theory)

That’s exactly what Time wants; they’re stirring the pot. Seriously, to each his own when it comes to parenting styles. At the end of the day, I know mine is the best. ;)

Joel Stein (More Stories About Some Kid)

If you want to get mad at the media, I am the media. Also so are you.

Magda Pecsenye (Moxieville)

This is not about attachment parenting at all. They’re creating drama at the expense of all mothers.

Joanne Bamberger (PunditMom’s Spin Cycle)

As a mom of an adopted daughter who had actual attachment issues (probably because she was abandoned and in an orphanage for a year), I am offended that true attachment issues that many children have end up being ignored or marginalized to sell magazines.

SWT

I’m HAPPY that someone is taking the extreme views to task. We’re all pot stirrers. How can we fault a magazine for discussing it?

Isabel Kallman (Thinking Out Loud)

We are not all pot stirrers. There are ways to discuss issues, and there are ways to sensationalize things.

SWT

When you’re part of the media, any strong opinion you have will stir pots. I’ve experienced it a thousand times. It doesn’t matter if what you say is said in all fairness and only presented as one opinion. People will get pissed! It goes with the territory of discussing big topics like parenting.

Doug French (The Turbid Spume)

Of course, the real blow to Time would be not to react at all.

MJ

Doug, that was my point. I’m torn between giving Time the blank stare and supporting Katherine’s point by writing about the blank stare.

Catherine Connors (Bad Mother Confidential)

For what it’s worth, I think that a broad declaration, from moms and dads, that we ARE enough, is a forceful message, notwithstanding any debate about the Mommy Wars. I’m with Stefanie to the extent that I don’t see a problem with the media — which includes, as Joel says, us — discussing the tensions and pain points of the parenting community. But I do see a problem with the unrelenting cultural glare on moms, demanding that they do better. The “Are You Mom Enough?” question demands, I think, an answer: Hell yes we are, and please stop asking.

Cassandra Barry (More Stories About Some Kid)

Am I the only one here who sees nothing Mommy Wars about this? They are talking about how attachment parenting is the prevailing trend and dissecting what Sears’ views really are and how some of them have been blown out of proportion — I couldn’t agree more.

Alice Bradley (Write Anyway)

Is attachment parenting the prevailing trend? I live in Park Slope, and even here it seems like the fervent AP-ers are, well, at least not the majority. But maybe I’m out of the loop. My kid is nine, and have you ever tried to nurse a nine-year-old? They put up a fight, I’ll tell you what.

I feel like I’m missing something with this cover and all the anger surrounding it. It reads tongue-in-cheek to me. My problem with AP is that Dr. Sears always made me feel like I wasn’t “mom enough.” But that’s just me, with my faulty boobs and inability to co-sleep.

Kelly Wickham (Mocha Momma Has Something to Say)

The title alone — “Are You Mom Enough” — is plenty to start a war. Questioning mothering, NOT parenting, is clearly bait. So is this patriarchal “some male doctor knows best, you silly, stupid moms” juxtaposition. I don’t even care about that topic. The first person who questions my parenting gets a swift kick in the teeth. I’m not down for one more contrived guilt trip.

Mr. Lady (Cucumbersome)

Alice, it’s not just you. My boobs worked just fine and I co-slept, though only out of sheer laziness, and I just called it sleeping. I still couldn’t go near anything Dr. Sears had to say without feeling like an utter failure.

It wasn’t until I started ignoring what other people thought I should do with my kid that I realized that I was doing exactly what I should be doing with my kid: Raising him, by any means necessary.

Alison Kramer (That’s My Bestie)

I practice what would be called attachment parenting, pretty much in its purest form. For me it was not demanding work, rather, it was perfectly in line with what my heart and body ached for with my children — and I live a privileged enough existence where I was able to choose it.

In no way do I believe it is right for everyone. Motherhood is a relationship defined by the two unique parties within it, like any other. I’m anti-war, particularly Mommy War.

Asha Dornfest (The Accidental Expert)

Let’s imagine the reaction if the cover said, “Are you man enough?” Yes, this is Mommy Warmongering, even if the content of the article is more about attachment parenting than it is about moms fighting one another. It’s taking advantage of a vulnerable spot to incite reaction and sell magazines.

Tanis Miller (Hogwash From a Hoser)

The only thing I thought when I saw the cover art for Time was wow, I wish my boobs were that perky after breastfeeding. And then I wondered if they had to Photoshop out any boob whiskers.

SWT

Yes, the article’s headline is not Time‘s opinion, obviously, it’s saying that this is the prevailing attitude of extremists in AP camp. We have all experienced the “only my way is right” and the “are you woman enough to breastfeed” mentality. I don’t know why people are so enraged.

AB

I think if there were a cover story titled “Are You Man Enough?” there would be zero outrage. Who would get worked up over that?

And when I was 26, my boobs were up by my neck. Thank god they’re more manageable now!

SWT

Is anyone here acknowledging that Time isn’t asking us if we’re “woman enough”? They are saying that the extreme end of the AP movement is asking us that. Don’t you think that’s important? I am so on board with Time on this one. Maybe they’ll hire me! Also, I love to pot stir. I have a talent for it even when I don’t mean to.

Ana Flores (Besos)

I detest Dr. Sears and the unfair expectations put on motherhood even more.

When I had my girl, I had no village to support me and my husband. Thankfully, I could take the time off from work to live my dream of being an ultra-attached mom. I read every single word in his book. Then I started feeling like a failure because nothing was as it “should” have been. This “guru” had failed me, and I had no one else to really guide me. Until I guided myself.

KW

I got pregnant at 14 and have successfully raised three children into adulthood, and not once did I give a crap what Dr. Sears or anyone else said about parenting. Because when you’re doing it to survive, it’s a privilege to be so self-aware as to feel the need to tell people, “I’m an attachment parent.” I’m Kelly and I’m mom enough and no one else gets to say I’m not.

*drops mic*

AD

I’m not interested in boycotting Time or forming a picket line. I’m interested in calling a large media brand on its tactics and generating worthwhile discussion around it. I want there to be an intelligent, inclusive response to this. I want the result not to be an outcry against Time, but an outcry of support and solidarity among parents.

Meagan Francis (At Home with the Happiest Mom)

I think attachment parenting was a nice idea until it felt into the hands of parents with something to prove. I have practiced many “attachment parenting” tenets, but I am not “an attachment parent.” I don’t like labels, as a rule. And I breastfed all of my kids until an average of two years, mostly because weaning is hard and I’m kind of a wimp.

I include Dr. Sears in the “parents with something to prove” group, btw. But I hope it’s not mom-bashing to point out that mothers have been instrumental in turning AP into something of a religion.

SWT

If so many of you are opposed to the extreme views of AP, then why are you upset with a magazine for shining a light on it? I really don’t understand! I loved the article. I hope it does sell a lot of magazines. I want people to become more aware of how extreme it’s getting out there. That will go a long way towards moms having more tolerance for other moms.

MF

I haven’t read the article yet, so I’m withholding judgment about it. I guess my issue with the cover/title, on first glance, is that it makes this particular mother and her parenting choices seem extreme. A lot of people won’t read the article, but will just talk about that crazy mom who’s breastfeeding the boy standing next to her. Then they will, by default, label all moms who breastfeed past a certain age extreme and crazy.

CB

Agreed!!! I kind of touched on this idea with my “Hippie Mom Superiority Complex” post. I should have just called it “AP superiority complex.”

Also, I want to say that while a lot of the response here seems to be “Time is inciting the Mommy Wars,” I see it as the opposite. They are showing the roots of AP and the man behind it, and the ways in which it wasn’t meant to get so extreme.

JB

This is why this is allpart of a cultural guilt trip — the whole underlying theory on attachment is bonding. Pop culture’s implying that if you don’t practice what has come to be known as “attachment parenting,” that you don’t care about your kids.

Shawn Burns (Parenting Off the Map)

Watching this Mommy War/parenting clusterflock is like watching hippies selling dream catchers to Indians and telling them how much better their lives would be if they stopped drinking themselves to sleep every night.

Accepting that a conversation is privileged doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have it, but noting how rarefied the air is up here might help us take shallower breaths.

Jane Roper (Baby Squared)

Right there with you, Shawn, but I think I side with Stefanie on this one. Having read the article more carefully, I see it not so much as bait, but as discussion of the origins of AP and why it has become polarizing. I also think that we’re all waaaaay more aware of this issue than the average person. I wonder what people who aren’t even aware of the whole Mommy Wars thing will take away from the piece.

JB

Shawn, agreed! This ends up being more about class warfare because, really, how many moms have the time we all just took to express our various views? Most of them are too busy to worry about anybody else, because they’re just trying to put food on the table and pay the rent.

MP

While we were all talking about whether to talk about it, I told Time to shut up on my personal blog. I did attachment parenting because it’s what my mom did with me back in 1973, and it worked out for us. Now I’m going to go research a Mom Lift because I’ve been thinking about the previous perkiness of my boobs.

Sarah Braesch (That’s Right. You Heard Me.)

I’m home with a sick kid. I am missing an Orioles game for this. If that isn’t mom enough, I don’t know what is.

MORE ON BABBLE:

Decoding the messages on Time magazine’s breastfeeding cover
It’s Time to stop fighting the mommy wars
The voices missing from the mommy wars — and why it’s important to include them

More on Babble

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22 thoughts on “Are We Mom Enough? Babble Voices Tackles the Time Cover

  1. The Mommy Psychologist says:

    This picture can’t be real, is it? Who is this kid? And who is this woman? I hope it’s his mother. God, I hope it’s his mother. Because if it’s not his mother than some young kid was pictured and plastered all over the media suckling a blond woman’s breast. My full rant is here:
    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/05/10/have-you-seen-the-time-magazine-cover/

  2. LK says:

    While the article itself seems interesting, the image and the headline are deliberately, and unnecessarily, provocative. My main issue, though, is that it distracts from the real issues that the vast majority of mothers in America are facing (i.e., lack of paid maternity/parental leave, lack of employer support for pregnancy/breasfeeding/families, lack of affordable healthcare, etc.). This media spotlight on AP just stirs up needless debate on what are essentially the navel-gazing concerns of the privileged. Who gives a crap about what type of “parenting philosophy” people subscribe to? Seriously. Yes, the “sanctimommies” are obnoxious, whatever “camp” they put themselves in. But the fact is, most women don’t have the luxury to ponder these things. I wish major media outlets would take on the things that actually matter, and stop putting out this sensationalist bullshit ).

  3. izg says:

    I can’t tell you how much I hate this cover. There’s this mom looking all powerful in her workout clothes and power pose. And then there’s her son–looking confused. I can just hear the photographer giving directions–’suck on mommy’s nipple and turn to me. Then I’ll give you a cookie. Good boy.’ The poor child looks so helpless, yet he trusts his mom to do the right thing. And there she is, exploiting him to get her message across.

  4. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    @MommyPsychologist, remind me to never read your blog again. That was really ugly and awful. Of course it’s his mother and I’m sure she knows how old he is. The flip side of that is that larger children shouldn’t be breastfed. Seriously, @@. I personally know dozens of AP momma who breastfed past the age of three, including myself, It’s really not uncommon at all. Thnaks for your stupid, self righteous holier than than commentary though. I wish I could avoid it here, but I know I can avoid it by nevr reading your trite, awful blog. Just, UGH.

  5. lulu says:

    Does this woman also make her kid stand on a stool for his solids? Agree with SWT here.

  6. Mamanonymous says:

    None of this is anything new. “Attachment Parenting” is just a slogan for the way humans are programmed to relate to their young. Should be completely non-controversial. The question shouldn’t be “Are you mom enough?” but “Are you human enough?” http://mamameyeah.blogspot.com/2012/05/when-normal-becomes-notable.html

  7. deb says:

    I’m sorry…but if you can walk and talk and run around on the playground there is no need to be stuck to your moms boob..I have a 3.5 year old and I would never ever think of it. I guess to each his own but it’s unecessary at that point nutrional wise…Give me a break on the comment it’s hard to wean…my child weaned off everything in no time, boob, bottle, pacifier so really…who are you passifying..yourself or your child..your baby is a preschooler.. let it go..

  8. Diana says:

    Wow, Deb. Way to be supportive. Clearly if your child easily weaned, all children should.

  9. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    @Deb, just because you are completely ignorant to the many benefits of extending breastfeeding doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

  10. DeathMetalMommy says:

    Perhaps the people who are bothered by this image are not concerned with the many benefits of extended breastfeeding. Perhaps it just creeps the hell out of them. I nursed each of my three children and this picture makes me shudder and I am counting the days until next month when there will be another Time cover lining the shelves. I don’t care if you breastfeed your kid until they are old enough to have their OWN kid (that’d be weird though), just please don’t do it in public.

  11. JP says:

    I wonder if this little boy is going to be embarrassed of this magazine cover when he is 16.

  12. Rosana says:

    Whatever the message is I think the cover does no favors to new breastfeeding mothers needing the support of a skeptic husband. I have been lucky to have a husband that, even though, never saw a woman breastfeeding a baby before, was totally supporting and never made me feel that it was a decision I made alone. But the cover could freak out any man that does not fully believe in breastfeeding and therefore the wife will not count on his support.

  13. Korinthia Klein says:

    The confrontational nature of this cover is insulting to motherhood in general.
    /
    My own personal feeling is that the child in the image is too young to properly consent in terms of being immortalized in that photo and I worry it may cause him undo embarrassment later in life. But maybe it won’t. I’m not his mom.
    /
    http://the-quiet-corner.blogspot.com/

  14. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    “Perhaps the people who are bothered by this image are not concerned with the many benefits of extended breastfeeding. Perhaps it just creeps the hell out of them.” I’m sure there are plenty of things you do that likely “creep the hell” out of me based on your insipid post, but that doesn’t give me the right to dictate you not do them. Get over yourself. @@.

  15. rebecca says:

    I will be canceling my subscription to Time. I don’t have time in my busy life to read things that are intended to stir up arguments among my gender. If women want to attachment parent or not, it is none of my business, nor is it anyone else’s. I have better things to do with my time than to get all worked up about the choices my peers make as parents, nor do I have the time or inclination to judge the choices of other moms. SERIOUSLY.

  16. Jenna says:

    Anyone with basic knowledge of manners knows it’s impolite to eat while standing. In a civilized house people sit before they snarf a sandwich or get all up ons mommy’s snack packs. Tsk tsk Time, contributing to the declining ediquet of Americans.

  17. Merle H. says:

    It’s a business. They just want to sell their magazine.

    Also, you can’t ignore the health benefits of breastfeeding into the toddler years and here is one mom that is bringing awareness to it in a loud way. It isn’t for everyone, surely, but the fact that some women do hardly seems like something to get all worked up about. My child is only 3 months old and I don’t know how long I will breastfeed him. If I did choose to breastfeed him beyond 1 year, I would hope that the general public wouldn’t have an outcry over it. Maybe this article will bring awareness in a positive way (although at this point it seems to be in an unfortunately negative way.)

    http://www.blackbirdsbooksandbabies.com

  18. Teresa says:

    MILF? Check! Tight pants? Check! Perky boob? Check! Confused looking son? Check! Great way to promote attachment parenting, TIME magazine. I’m sure people who are on the fence are going to take it very seriously.

  19. Mariah S. says:

    Many of my friends are nursing older kids and some of them are embarrassed about it, even though in the rest of the world it’s typical to continue nursing past infancy. I saw the Time cover and was happy, because seeing a young mom nursing a big kid is a cool thing.

    I don’t live in an AP haven like Oregon. I live in Upstate NY. I know lots of AP parents (fathers included, there are a lot of AP fathers that barely get a mention anywhere) and they run the spectrum of humanity. Many ethnic backgrounds, levels of education, religious affiliations, professions, ages, single parents, large families, etc. None of them give a whack what anyone else does with their children. Hell, I have AP friends who spank. They’re as diverse as every other group of parents.

    The AP movement promotes a set of principles and anything that is clearly defined is tempting to mock. Few AP parents strictly follow all AP philosophies, nor do they expect anyone else to follow any of them (ever, really), but will encourage an attached approach when it comes up. Parents who feel uncertain about their parenting style will sometimes take great offense at this, the same way anyone dealing with confidence issues will become aggrieved when someone swoops in with a comment about their situation. This is more an issue with our negative parenting culture (for you to do something right, somebody else must be doing something wrong) than with anything inherent to AP.

    I experimented with a bunch of AP stuff with my own children. My youngest will likely nurse until he’s well over the age of two; my oldest I forcefully weaned at 19 months even though he wasn’t ready. I tried baby wearing, but neither of my kids wanted to be in our Ergo or Moby (or the stroller, or anywhere other than being loosely held in my arms.. argh), I co-sleep sometimes, but I’d like to do it less so I could sleep more. I cloth diapered, but I don’t any more. I do immunize, although many AP parents don’t. I do CIO once in awhile (when I can’t take it any more), and almost all AP parents I know do CIO here and there. I like Dr. Sears and didn’t ever feel like I wasn’t “mom enough” when reading his Baby Book. If I liked the sound of something, I tried it. I had few outside influences from family or friends when I became a parent, so I read a variety of books and then followed my gut. I think we all do this to some extent, regardless of which philosophy or non-philosophy we claim as our own.

    Nobody has ever made me feel like a cruddy parent other than myself. Even though I didn’t nurse my oldest son until he was three, nor was I back in my hot yoga pants for a long time, I don’t feel like a lesser mom when I look at the Time cover. Extended nursing, and nursing in general, is something that more Americans should be aware of. If it takes an intentionally provocative magazine cover to get people talking about it, I’m all for. Because otherwise us nursing moms will continue to furtively cover our babies or sneak off to bathrooms, instead of nursing children of any age wherever, whenever. One of the best and brightest things about AP is that it emphasizes a pro-nursing culture. That is something that might make non-nursing families uncomfortable, but it’s an important thing. Nursing moms are still told to cover up or leave places, in 2012, even in states where that’s clearly illegal. Nursing older children isn’t seen in public, ever, in most of America, even though it’s completely normal. These are real issues. The women I know who are nursing toddlers are doing something unusual in the US, they’re doing something difficult, and they’re doing something that opens them to shaming and criticism. They deserve some praise and recognition.

    The cover of Time is what America deserves to see. We overemphasis breasts for sex and devalue them for breastfeeding. If it takes a hot mom with a big kid to get the attention of Americans, then so be it. Nobody would be talking about this cover if it showed an older woman breastfeeding a covered child. America wants to be both titillated and outraged, or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves and each other.

    Time inadvertently did a good thing here, because the cover is a Rorschach test. I look at that photo and see a nursing child first, because the nursing child is more important to me than some hot boobies. When more Americans see it that way then our culture will change.

    Our culture is producing really, really low rates of nursing even for infants, and few people want to talk about that. Time will at least get people talking, even if most people are too distracted by the woman to think about the topic.

  20. Patty Gatter says:

    To each his own – or should I say her own? Not for me – maybe I am selfish – but 6months – 1 year was more than enough of dedication of time for me to breast feed my little ones. Nursing for that long seems exhausting….
    I agree with StrollerDerby, the media is always coming up with stories to make you second guess things and confuse you……
    XOXOXO,
    Patty Gatter, Owner
    http://www.HarperGraceBaby.com

  21. Teresa says:

    @Mariah-Yes, everyone is talking. But the uninformed people are stillsaying it’s gross, and they probably didn’t and won’t read the article. i’m glad you like the photo and “saw” the child first, but I don’t think that is the case with many, many people ( hence the outrage) and I don’t think it informed anyone of anything. People are just like “HOLY SHIT CRAZY PICTURE!”

    I think the picture did a horrible disservice and I don’t believe for a second that sparked positive dialogue regarding breastfeeding or extended breastfeeding. Sure, maybe it preached to the choir, but that’s about it.

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