My thoughts on the Time cover.

by Amanda Hearn · 13 comments

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For starters, let’s throw out the “Are you mom enough?”  This is clearly offensive and reaction provoking. I don’t rank mothers based on a checklist of “they do this” and “they don’t do that”.  That is ridiculous and this headline does nothing to promote the photo depicted. It provokes the wrong emotions and encourages “mompetition”, which is so rediciously counterprodctive – because at the end of the day, don’t we all just want to be doing our personal best?  Lord knows we all mess up.  I wish I could say I was a perfect parent, but I’m not!  I have three children and I just hope that I get them to adulthood without ruining them! (Okay maybe my goals aren’t quite that simple, but you know what I mean!)  There is no need for competition and judgement, though I suppose that’s a topic all to itself.  Perhaps another day.

Despite my feelings on the cover title, what I dislike more than that is the sentence below it –  ”Why attachment parenting drives some mothers to extremes – and how Dr. Bill Sears became their guru.”

That pisses me off. 

Extremes.  I nursed all three of my children, and my youngest nursed past two.  Even if she had wanted to nurse longer (though I was so ready for her to be done!) I would have, and I wouldn’t have considered extreme in the least.

The fact that mainstream ideas want to pin mothers into corners by calling them “extreme” for parenting based on instincts and the natural progession of infancy and toddlerhood enrages me and saddens me.

Who says what is extreme? I don’t remember anyone asking me.  Is that on the ballot this year?

The focus of mainstream perceptions is what brings me back around to another thought about this cover.  Wipe the words away, and it is beautiful.  The mother is a beautiful, petite woman with lovely features and looks like she just got out of that yoga class I wish I took. Her son is healthy breastfed boy who is enjoying the benefits of attachment parenting. This is beautiful, as are the other amazing photos from this shoot.


These images by photographer Martin Schoeller, are beautiful and natural.  They are taken of women who clearly love what they are doing and are strong and confident in that.  Though I would have chosen a different approach and angle on the cover, I am happy to see such lovely photos being viewed by the masses.

What are your thoughts on this cover? Do you think this is good for breastfeeding? Do you think it has set it back? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin May 11, 2012 at 10:41 am

well it’s obvious now why these other pictures weren’t chosen for the cover. They all look so sweet and normal. The kid standing on the chair looking older than he is makes for a more shocking statement. I wish they’d stop stoking the fires of mompetition too (I hadn’t used that word before, thanks for putting it out there). That’s my least favorite part about the whole story.

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Kristie May 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I don’t feel that the cover is helping normalize extended breastfeeding at all. I feel that it is a passive aggressive way to further alienate extended breastfeeding. The wording on the front is just going to hurt any chance of it gaining society’s acceptance.

I have 3 children, the youngest being 2 months old. I nursed my first 2 for 9 months each. I quit because I allowed society to influence me instead of listening to my instincts. With my youngest I plan on nursing him until he decides he’s done or when he starts kindergarten, which ever comes first.

As for the mompetition, I choose not to compete. I choose to not even watch from the stands. I have my beliefs about child rearing & that’s how I’m going to raise my kids. My goal is not to be “better” than someone else, it is to be the BEST mom for MY kids. The mompetition will continue until we decide to stop judging each other and learn to support any effort to raise a healthy, happy child.

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lara jane May 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I agree. The headline (and the bit about Sears) is meant to be divisive and the photo is meant to shock. If they’d used the other photo of the same mother and child they (TIME) wouldn’t have gotten the response they were after.

(FTR, I wholly support extended breastfeeding. My son weaned himself at 11 months and I cried my heart out because I cherished that time so much. Here’s hoping baby girl will stick with it longer than her brother!)

And about Sears… I guess I’d be considered one who practices attachment parenting simply because of the 3 Bs (bedsharing, babywearing, breastfeeding) but I have never read a Sears book in my life, so he is far from being my “guru.” And we definitely don’t think we’re better parents because we choose this way. All we care about is OUR family, and everyone else has to do what works for THEIRS.

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Autumn Beck May 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

It’s silly but smart marketing that they chose the photo they did. Can’t fault them for that, as their sales will no doubt soar.

However, they have mislead and done harm to the view of breastfeeding (which is already viewed poorly by many).

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Ali Michalove May 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I totally agree with you!

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Jacquelyn May 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I think the headline is actually worse than the photo. They clearly picked the most shocking photo: a beautiful woman, with clothes askew, nursing someone who is otherwise self-sufficient! But the headline implies that this woman (and those of us who nurse non-infants) think women who don’t are not as good mothers as we are (by comparison, not “mom enough”). That is extremely damaging. It turns nursing mothers into oppressors, which conveniently plays into the hands of critics who think mothers who nurse past the first birthday are tyrants over their children who coddle them and keep them from growing up “properly.” The whole thing reeks of judgment, both from the standpoint of the writer and projecting judgment on the women they are writing about.
Furthermore, giving the title of “guru” to Dr. Sears is so weird. I don’t know any woman who chose to nurse beyond a few months who did so because she was following someone’s advice. In every single case I am aware of, she (and I) did so despite the warnings, criticisms, and judgment she received from most people around her. We, like all moms, do what we do because of the results we see in each of our individual children.

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Cyndel Jones May 12, 2012 at 12:15 am

The photo gives the impression that that is how they nurse all the time, when ever the child wants he just pulls up the chair and helps himself.
Usually at that age nursing happens when they need comfort from loneliness, an injury, or to sleep. Which means they will want to cuddle on the couch or bed, not stand on a chair while mom finishes cleaning the mirror more or less ignoring him.
I weaned my eldest at 13m, mostly because even though nursing was normal with the people I was around growing up nursing much past a year wasn’t. So I weaned because that is what I thought best and normal.
Now however with my 11 month old…eeek he’ll be 1 year old tomorrow…I want to nurse as long as he wants, though if I get pregnant I am hypoglycemic and eating enough while pregnant is hard enough, I’m not sure my body can handle pregnancy and nursing but I’m willing to give it a shot, but if it doesn’t work I’m willing to wean.
Anyway I’ll stop chattering and taking up space.

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Amanda May 14, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, I agree and am happy to have you ‘taking up space’! Please feel free anytime!

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Ali Michalove May 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I agree with a lot of the opinions above. Personally, as for the cover, I think it is awesome! I breastfed my younger two children, who are now 4 and 3. My daughter was not able to passed 6 months because I got mastitis so bad that the doctor said I needed to stop for safety reasons. However, my youngest son, the 3YO was breastfed passed two and he weaned himself. If he has wanted to continue I would have. Without a doubt. The thing I don’t like about the cover is that the headline does seem to pit breastfeeding mom against non-breastfeeding mom and I think that is a travesty. Mom’s should unite no matter what the situation. People need to remember the saying, it takes a village to raise a child. I know that I am open to any advice from another mother. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t, but we should all be helping each other. Lastly, I do believe that the mom on this cover did not want to seem “better” than other mothers. The one interview I saw her in, she stated that she is choosing this because her mom did it with her and it made her feel safe and secure. For the ones that are against attachment parenting, isn’t that what we all want? For our children to feel safe and secure, so that they grow up confident and strong. Thanks for sharing your opinion on this issue!

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Ali Michalove May 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I forgot to mention that I love the other photos too! These kids look so calm and secure. I love it!

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Crystal Wright May 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I breastfed my children until they were a year old; that’s what the doctor recommended. I don’t remember them being too disappointed, I just substituted solid foods. I feel like it gave them a chance to be independent. It gave me a chance to be independent. My oldest is 8 now and has a very healthy and strong body. She has excelled at dance, soccer, and now gymnastics, her sister is following suit, and their little brother is healthy and as happy as ever.
I dislike the ad for the same reason you do, it is causing us to feel inferior, like there is something wrong with us because of the way we choose to raise our children.
One more thing I dislike is the exposure of these women. I have nursed my children in public before when it was necessary but always under a blanket or nursing cloth. While they are trying to promote breastfeeding there are also promoting nudity.

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Rebecca May 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Thank you!!! I was having a hard time deciding why this cover evoked such negative thoughts in me. I’m a strong supporter of breastfeeding, after all, so there was really no earthly reason *why* a photo of a mother breastfeeding her son would make me uncomfortable, and even a little upset. The obvious choice made by Time to call it extreme consciously had no bearing on my feelings. Media just looks for a way to grab its readers by the heartstrings, after all.
You finally helped me find my answer: mompetition. The article elected to make mothers feel as though the writers knew what was best for their families, and any deviation from their own thoughts was extreme. “If you want to be a good mom, do it our way, and *only* our way.”
It wasn’t the photo that I found offensive, at all (thank goodness). It was Time’s implications about the photo… and about what it implied about our own families, as well.

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Rachel N June 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I really don’t like the cover photo at all. It is not natural in any way (not the nursing an older child part but the way it is posed). The other pictures from the shoot are much nicer in my opinion. I also really don’t like what the article implies. My best friend formula fed her son, does that make her a worse mommy than me because I breastfed? I don’t think so, she loves her son just as much as I love mine.

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