Reply turned post, but what about the CHILDREN?? style

This is one of those three way mirrors kind of posts. I am reply -turned – posting to a reply – turned – post. PhD in Parenting has a post about a post on Blog it out, Bitch about how breastfeeding in public somehow forces disapproving parents to talk about breastfeeding with their children before they are ready and willing.

My response (with a few typo / grammar edits *twitch twitch*):

Great post!

I really have a problem with the idea that breastfeeding in public is forcing parents to discuss something with their children before they are willing. It is the same exact argument being used by parents protesting a host on a British children’s show who has a congenital deformity of one of her arms.

No one can force someone to have a discussion with her child before she is ready. I have an IUD pin on my white coat (I am a medical student who plans to practice Ob/gyn.) . When my son said “You have a pogo stick on your white coat!” I said “Yes I do!” because I didn’t think a discussion on birth control was age appropriate. I make these sorts of judgment calls every day. A parent who doesn’t want to discuss the TV host with the different arm can turn off the TV, say “I don’t want to talk about that” and stick her head in the sand all she wants.

Parents DO get to choose what they discuss and what they ignore. What they cannot control is the entire world around them, and the sooner they learn that, the better. And, the sooner they stop using “But what about the CHILDREN??” as an excuse to cover up their own biases and fears, the better we will all be.

Breastfeeding is in absolutely no way disgusting, sexual, inappropriate, or wrong, and I refuse to defend or accept the defense of someone who tries to pretend it is. Neither is seeing a biracial or homosexual couple together (I am not talking about sex here, but holding hands or in a book or something), a TV host with a differently abled body, or a myriad of other examples of biases people have.

I will judge women who go to restaurants with their breasts, midriffs, thongs or buttcheeks hanging out of their clothes in a sexual manner. (I live near South Beach in Miami. Not only have I seen all this at restaurants, I have seen mothers dropping off their children at school dressed like this. No kidding.) I do not pretend that there won’t be groups of parents who think my breastfeeding in restaurants was obscene, just like there are apparently people who think my judgment of women who walk around like they are auditioning for a porno is some sort of wrong attitude toward a sex positive ideal.

We don’t agree, and I can live with that. I don’t have to defned their point of view, however.


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5 responses to “Reply turned post, but what about the CHILDREN?? style

  1. Wow…I can’t believe that story about the TV host. That is nuts. Ugh…what is wrong with people?

  2. Agree with you completely! I posted a long reply on the phd parenting site too.

  3. PG

    I find very puzzling the people who demand that the world correspond with what they want their child to see. My mother was super-conservative in her social values, having grown up in India (where kissing in movies, much less in public, still is taboo), had an arranged marriage and lived most of her time in America in a small, conservative southern town. She would flip the channel if even a married couple was kissing on TV; we weren’t allowed to date until we were in college; I got scolded by my dad if I wore really tight jeans. But she never wrote a letter to the FCC complaining about Beverly Hills 90210 (the original) or yelled at a supermarket cashier because there were raunchy tabloids in the checkout lane.

    My mom thought it was her (and my dad’s, and larger family and like-minded community network’s) job to make our homes the kind of environment they wanted for their children. If crazy Americans wanted to show this kissing nonsense on TV, that’s fine — she’d turn off the TV and tell us we could go read. (One thing my parents never monitored was our reading material … so I learned it all from romance novels instead of from MTV. Probably more positive feminist messages in the former, anyway.) If she didn’t want us to see a breast-feeding woman — though Mom never had hangups about the basic processes of life; she just got embarrassed if you brought romance and fun into the matter — she’d just cover our eyes and scuttle us away. She certainly wouldn’t say anything to the person breast-feeding, much less lobby for laws to prevent it.

    But that kind of attitude is really labor-intensive parenting. You have to pay attention to where your kids are, what they’re doing, etc. It’s a lot easier to tell the rest of the world that it has to make itself “safe” for your kids, than for you to do that work.

    My mom makes me crazy sometimes and I definitely wasn’t happy with all aspects of her parenting, but I think she set me a good example in that one: live the values you want your children to embrace, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries on them, but don’t try to dictate to other people how they should be living just so you can have an easier time parenting.

  4. MomTFH

    Thanks for all of the supportive and thoughtful replies.

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