How old is too old?
That question crossed the minds of many on Wednesday after TIME Magazine released the cover photo for its May 21 edition, with the lead story, Are You Mom Enough? The cover photo shows 26-year-old California mom Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her soon-to-be 4-year-old son. The son is photographed suckling his mother while standing on a chair. The image spread like wildfire across the Internet after having been published by TIME online. Controversy ignited as critics lambasted the image for its jarring nature.
Anybody else slightly slack-jawed over this week's Time cover? The Atlantic Wire's Adam Clark Estes rhetorically asked.
Breastfeeding your 3-year-old is one thing, but putting a picture of him doing it on the cover of Time? the Daily News' Bill Hammond wrote.
If you wonder why young teachers & students are having sexual relations look no further than this Time Magazine cover, tweeted parody artist Bill Walton.
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The kid on the cover of this week's Time magazine is really going to hate Middle School, tweeted TV producer Gavin Purcell.
Other responses summed it up with the concise message: WTF?
The TIME magazine breastfeeding article by Kate Pickert centers around the rise of attachment parenting, techniques established by Dr. Jim Sears in his 1992 book, The Baby Book. The book details how mothers should focus on three pillars: baby-wearing, co-sleeping and, you guessed it, extended breastfeeding.
TIME decided to shine the spotlight on extended breastfeeding by putting the photo of Grumet breastfeeding her now three-year-old son, who turns four next month, on the cover. The photo was shot by photographer Martin Schoeller, who used religious images of the Madonna and Child as a reference point.
When you think of breast-feeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids, Schoeller said. I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation.
Grumet said that for her, the decision to breastfeed her son through the years was a natural one and grew from how she herself was raised. She was the daughter of attached parents, reported TIME, and her older sister practices the method as well.
I grew up this way and never thought about raising my kids differently, she told TIME Magazine. I don't consider breast feeding immodest at all-I'm not shy about doing it in public.
Schoeller photographed three other mothers who have adopted Sears' theory on extended breastfeeding.
Dionna Ford of Kansas City, Mo., breastfeeds her 4-year-old and 5-month-old, saying, It's so funny that the women who ask breastfeeding parents to cover up wouldn't write to Victoria's Secret to ask them to take down their ads.
Jessica Cary of Brooklyn breastfeeds her three-year-old daughter, calling it a life philosophy.
Melinda Larsen of Long Island City, who has four children between the ages of nine months and six years, agrees with the philosophy notion.
The philosophy resonated with us, and it felt comfortable. Other forms of parenting felt like I wasn't in my own skin, she told TIME.
In a previous interview with Parenting.com, Dr. Sears explained the reasoning behind his promotion of extended breastfeeding.
If it's working for you and your child, and your mothering instinct tells you it's right -- it's right! In my opinion, you're a health-savvy, modern mom, and it seems that your friends and relatives are old-fashioned and misinformed. As a pediatrician and parent, it grieves me to hear well-meaning critics ask a breastfeeding mother, 'You're still nursing?' Know that you're actually making a wise, long-term investment in your child's health, said Sears.
He bulleted rationale behind his theory with references to scientific research, world opinion and health benefits.
For mothers concerned about the how old is too old question, Dr. Sears said, Once your friends and relatives see the benefits of your breastfeeding bond, your growth as a mother, and the emotional, intellectual and physical health of your child, they will serve as convincing testimonies to the value of extended breastfeeding.
The Huffington Post zoned in on the controversy surrounding the TIME Magazine cover photo:
The usual questions that come up when mothers are called out for breastfeeding in public (which happens often) include: Is breastfeeding indecent? Or natural? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all mothers breastfeed for up to a year, so how can we shame women who are just following the advice of the country's foremost medical establishment? writes the Huffington Post.
Her [Pickert] point, in writing the in-depth profile of Sears, seems to be that there are many parents out there left wondering what's right, what's wrong -- and most important -- what makes sense for their families.
How old is too old? Do you find the breastfeeding TIME magazine cover offensive, controversial or natural? Take our poll below.