Parents everywhere are talking about the Time magazine cover featuring model-mom, Jamie Lynne Grumet, breastfeeding her 3-year-old son who is standing on a chair. Time asks the question:
Are you mom enough?
In playgrounds, around water coolers, and over lattes, parents are debating the article that the photo is supposed to describe. The image has stirred discussions about attachment parenting. It is based on the idea that the more babies are held, the more secure they’ll feel. The approach includes wearing baby slings, sharing beds when you sleep with children, and breastfeeding sometimes through toddlerhood and beyond.
So are you mom enough?
Even the greatest parenting method cannot work if we gripe and are resentful.
I am not here to debate the pros and cons of attachment parenting. At the end of the day, we all want to do the best we can for our children. The constant mommy wars – between working versus non-working moms, nursing versus bottle-fed babies, or attachment parenting versus other parenting methods – only comes to divide parents and sap us of the energy needed to parent wisely.
One cannot be forced to sit doing puzzles on the floor with a child if you love to run around and be playful. Some moms like to cook delicious gourmet dinners while others love to whip up quick 10-minute meals. The essential issue is: Do you give to your children with love, or are you so drained and lacking of patience that the meals are spent in crabby silence?
We must first resolve to raise our children in an atmosphere of love infused with a happy energy. Otherwise, our children will feel that we do not want to spend our time with them and they will grow insecure. Even the greatest parenting method cannot work if we gripe and are resentful. Find the method that works best for you and your family, and do it with love.
Now for the cover photo.
Sure it is provocative and I realize that’s what sells today. But we need to once and for all decide what is acceptable or not as we try to raise our children. There are too many parents who just do not know what is considered appropriate. Who decides our value system?
Our culture knocks modesty and applauds pushing the button on sensuality. Take a trip to any drugstore and glance at the tabloids at the checkout counter. How do we perceive women? Who are the mothers of today? Do you think that unmarried teen moms on popular TV shows, or the housewife moms who occupy themselves with plastic surgery and shopping sprees while stabbing each other in the back with nasty gossip, offer our children a real look at the definition of ‘mom’? Hollywood stars parading almost nude or celebrities frolicking, leaving almost nothing to the imagination, flood our children with images of women devoid of sanctity and respect.
What does this have to do with the photo of the mom nursing her 3-year-old son, you may wonder?
Some may argue that nursing is a natural God-given gift, allowing mothers to bond with their children. So why not celebrate it?
Of course, it is. But this cover photo does not invoke tenderness, cuddling, or connecting. It is more "in your face, defiant parenting." A mother nursing her child should be a beautiful and nurturing moment. There is an emotional intimacy involved that is missing here. It is an intimacy that arrives in our lives through privacy.
We live in a world where privacy and modesty are not valued or respected. Reality TV has broken down the barriers as we voyage through peoples bedrooms and most confidential situations. We watch as husbands and wives discuss possible pregnancy, infertility issues, and fight over money and relationships. Facebook allows us to take part in couples' disagreements or personal lives. One never travels alone anymore – there are a thousand friends watching. Children grow up with their bodies publicly exposed from the time that they are born.
Post your life on Facebook, tweet your thoughts on Twitter. We live with a network of friends and family, but at what price?
The commandment to honor your parents is a foundation for families everywhere. How do you teach your children to honor and respect you?
One way is to live honorably. Teach children to revere you. Keep your intimate life private. This doesn’t mean that you must live as an old fashioned prude. It does mean that we consider our relationships holy. Our bodies are not to be flaunted across the cover of magazines. Modesty and dignity are intertwined. And when we live with dignity, we teach our children to treat us with a measure of respect which would otherwise be lacking. We are not seen simply as physical beings, but revered because we transmit a spiritual essence. We nourish not only through giving milk, but for thousands of years we have transmitted the mother’s milk of faith to our children. This is why it was crucial that the infant Moses nurse from his mother and not an Egyptian nursemaid.
When we openly display our physical selves, we downgrade ourselves in our children’s eyes. The issue here is not ‘nursing’; it is a question of reverence and awe. It is the return to modesty and dignity which is so sorely lacking in our children’s lives.
So when you are faced with the question, “Are you mom enough?", ask yourself the following:
• Do I live with a spiritual mission?
• Do I live with modesty and dignity?
• Do I teach my children to value privacy and honor family life?
If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions, then you are certainly "mom enough."