Keeping it classy: the new cover of TIME

Just what we all want on our coffee table at home. Read more here. Also, a mother explains why she breast-fed for so long in this essay.


  1. Hmmm…please tell me we’re not going to have some repressed Catholic tantrum now about depicting breastfeeding. Yes, in a slightly edgy way, but so what? The article, which I have not yet read, may be trying to make a point about “extreme” attachment parenting. Shall we march against mammaries-in-the-media now?

  2. Breastfeeding is not sexual. Breasts are actually for feeding children. Now, you may disagree about how long to breastfeed. But your comment implies that there is something wrong with a woman using her breasts to feed her child.

  3. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Who said it was sexual?

    Nothing wrong with breastfeeding. But I’m not so sure about a woman posing with her very large three year old child that way — with him ogling the camera – for the cover of a magazine.

    It’s clearly being done for shock value.


  4. There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding but that boy in that photo? Is TO OLD to be BREAST FEEDING still and if you disagree you have to have a screw lose somewhere..

  5. Come on, this is way more than edgy or normal. This is sensationalism.This image is meant to shock and stimulate at the same time. Disgusting and disturbing!

  6. Oregon Catholic says:

    I wonder if she will wean him in time for T-ball practice or will he have to run to the sideline for reassurance and a slurp.

  7. Oh, please, Deacon. She is a sexy young mother, flashing just a bit of what God gave her, and it’s inevitable some men may find themselves titillated. Ask any woman who’s nursed, even discreetly in public, and she’ll tell you. I’ll tell you. Don’t ignite this. This is the last thing the Church needs right now.

  8. Children don’t “ogle.” Your projection, perhaps?

  9. …moms who are into attachment parenting and breastfeeding past eighteen months or so normally breastfeed only before nap and night time in the privacy of their home- and look at the CHILD not the CAMERA

  10. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    He is aware of the camera and looking at it.

    Again, it’s not sexy. Or sexual.

    I never said it was.

    Your projection, perhaps?

    But maybe I’m wrong.

    Perhaps it’s perfectly normal for a 26-year-old woman to pose for a studio picture on the cover of a magazine with her three-year-old nursing at her breast while he’s standing on a chair and looking at the camera.

    Happens all the time. I see it every day. Sure.

    Of course.


  11. Shock sells. It’s all about selling product. Mom and son are just hired hands to get it done.

  12. Absolutely, this is deliberately provocative and mocking.
    I thank Dr Sears for Attachment Parenting, it was a wonderful way to raise my three girls. I had been raised on the ‘ don’t spoil the baby, feed her from a bottle and keep her on a schedule’ style of the early 60′s. It was horrible; what were our mothers thinking!

    Attachment parenting gave my daughters and I a bond which we continued through homeschooling, into college. My eighteen year old daughter is well adjusted and does not need approval from men to be complete, though she has a handsome admirer. She has received enough love to be secure, loving and accomplished in her educational career, but looking forward to having her own family if God wills it.

  13. Oregon Catholic says:

    I couldn’t read the article because I don’t have a Time account. But I’m wondering if there is a father in the picture. I have a hard time imagining any father putting up with this or at least one that hasn’t been completely emasculated.

  14. I have nursed all 10 of my children ( I’m pregnant now) some for more than 3 years but this picture is offensive and demeaning to nursing mothers and their children. It’s things like this that give breast feeders a bad name. And, yes, it is sexualized. I’ve hung out in some pretty liberal circles in my time and I’ve never seen anyone breast feed like this.

  15. AMMurphy: Are comments allowed about disordered cravings for inappropriate attention? What about the defiant celebration of a woman who abuses her son to gratify her narcissism and self-indulgence? What about the exploitation of a child compelled to pose? What about his own right to privacy, both now and in the future when he’ll be old enough to think for himself? What about his right to parents who don’t make public spectacles of themselves? What about the social irresponsibility of showcasing the questionable practice of breastfeeding children who’re well on their way to gaining their adult teeth (ouch!)? What about the father of the boy (married to the mother?), who’s either an enabler of his son’s victimhood or else another humiliated victim himself, with no say in the matter? What about the editorial agenda of Time in subverting social and biological norms all for the sake of a buck?

  16. Surely you are not suggesting an equivalence between those images and this one, so what’s your point?

  17. This image is less about breastfeeding or aattachment parenting, but more about exploiting motherhood to push magazine sales. Guess Obama’s mug isn’t doing it anymore, and God forbid they give Romney face time before it’s absolutely necessary. So what’s left? Psuedo-porn. I nursed all four of my children, am all about breastfeeding, but find this image to be a blatant taunt. It’s a breach of a special intimacy. I’m with the Dcn on this one.

  18. Congratulations (and happy Mother’s Day), but I have to ask: what is the point of nursing toddlers with their own teeth who’re able to manage solid food on their own? Where is the benefit?

  19. pagansister says:

    The cover it doing just what it was intended to do, IMO. Cause discussion. :o)

  20. Breastfeeding is not just about nutrition but also about nurturing. A baby learns to feel security while nursing with his mother and that need for security doesn’t turn off just because he has grown some teeth. The nursing relationship ends when the child has had both his nutritional and emotional needs fulfilled through breastfeeding and it is time to move on. That age is different for every child. I have nursed three babies. My oldest weaned herself at about 20 months. My middle weaned at 24 months after she had dropped to one session a day and I gave her a little encouragement to stop. My baby is 22 months and still nurses two to three times a day. I don’t know if he will wean himself so I wonder when he will need that extra encouragement. I suspect it will be around 27 months, but we shall see.

  21. The World Health Organization disagrees, actually. Not typical in the USA, normal for 3 yr olds to nurse in many parts of the world. The photo is very unfortunate. But breastfeeding is not.

    I think the point would be made if a woman were discretely nursing a 3 yr old, all eyes averted. Would that be shocking or not? Should it be? for what reason?

  22. It’s a breach of a special intimacy.


  23. So if she were posing with her son playing baseball, would it be OK? Methinks it is the breastfeeding that’s bothering people.

  24. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    A female friend saw the cover and wrote back:

    That **** is child porn and abuse! If there was a girl of the same age on the cover shown with her dad putting a diaper on her, I bet there would be a different reaction. Ugh. Gross!

    Good point.


  25. Dear Romulus–If we were to banish all narcissists from the covers of magazines, who would be left? The photo shoots would be restricted to stuff like rose gardens (although they’re a bit showy) and kittens (no, wait, cats are a but preening, also). I’m not defending the young woman’s judgement. I’m simply asking others to restrain theirs, because people, especially men, do have complicated, and not entirely conscious, reactions to the sight of a woman breast-feeding. Let’s not reinforce the stereotypes about Catholics being sanctimonious and sexually repressed. We’re getting enough bad press these days.

  26. I would argue that anyone pre-pubescent cannot “ogle” because of the amorous/lecherous connotation of the word.

  27. Oregon Catholic says:

    Nurturing does not have to involve feeding when children get older. In fact, using food of any kind to reassure or calm anxieties can lead to eating problems. I think most women who breastfeed long after it is nutritionally necessary need to look long and hard at their own personal attachment needs and who should be fullfilling them – hint, it’s not your children. Maybe they are the ones who can’t give it up.

  28. Yellow journalism always sells; too bad this will be what people think of when they think “extended breastfeeding.” Did this woman really think this (as opposed to a more normal picture of her sitting on the couch with her son held in the usual way so anyone else would just think he’s sleeping) would promote her parenting style? There are plenty of emotional* benefits to extended nursing, but something like this shows none of them.
    For those weirded out by this, I did do extended nursing, but sure not like this. Also, it’s way less bizarre-looking when you start with a newborn; the kid you’re nursing at any point is only one day older than the day before when it was obviously still fine.
    *Sometimes physical benefits too, but if there’s a newer baby around, the milk will tailor itself to that more frequent nurser rather than to the older child. Still helps the immune system though.

  29. Exactly. It’s weird and meant for shock value. TIME has jumped the shark. More shocking for me, however, is that TIME is still a working publication. They must be entirely, ahem, on the teet of CNN. Perhaps that three year old boy stands for TIME?

    (Btw, my kid is almost three. That kid looks like he’s five. Just sayin’.)

    This has nothing to do with breastfeeding. AMMurphy, can we please dispense with the ‘your-sense-of-what-is-sexy-is-all-messed-up-breastfeeding-is-natural-and-good-why-don’t-you-look-at-a-few-Renaissance-paintings!’ meme? We know. It’s great and wonderful.
    Sooo not the point.

  30. There’d be a different reaction as that would also be inappropriate for a magazine cover – but it’s hardly inappropriate for a dad to put a nighttime diaper on his 3-y-o daughter at home without a camera crew. Same deal here.

  31. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Let me be clear: I would have no problem with a woman breastfeeding an infant on the cover of a magazine, and showing ample amounts of flesh. (I was not offended when Deborah Norville did something similar many years ago.)

    If you see that image, it’s natural, healthy and normal.

    This isn’t.

    Again: from my perspective, it’s not about sex.


  32. I absolutely agree that there comes a point when it is time to give that baby bird a push, but I don’t think that times comes until well into toddlerhood. You won’t make a 2 year old neurotic by breastfeeding. When should the child be weaned? Really only the parents can definitively make that decision and there are parents who choose poorly. And they choose poorly in both directions. Some wean too quickly because they are tired of meeting the needs of their child and some wean too slowly because they are using their child for their personal attachment needs.

  33. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Agreed, Nate: the kid in his camouflage pants looks older. I’d place him at 17 or 18.

    I kid.

    But he’ll have lots of things to talk about with his therapist … especially when there’s the followup article decades hence. “The Breast Feeding Boy at 30: How Did He Turn Out?”


  34. Sigh. No, it really isn’t the breastfeeding. Truly. Really. Gotta believe me here.
    It isn’t even the breastfeeding of a three year old (three my foot). Though, that’s *kinda* weird. I say anything after two years is kinda weird, but hey, I’m sure some hippies would disagree and more power to ‘em.

    Wait a minute. Why am I on the defensive? Breastfeeding is good. The sky is blue. This isn’t interesting.

    Can’t we agree that this picture is weird?

    If she were posing with her son playing baseball, it wouldn’t have that man-bites-dog quality that TIME needs to get anyone to buy their silly magazine.

  35. people, especially men, do have complicated, and not entirely conscious, reactions to the sight of a woman breast-feeding.

    Thanks for the warning, but I think I’ve got it under control.

    Unintentional Irony Alert: It’s the editors of Time who’re desperately conflating the maternal and the sexual, and then (staring at us through the insolent eyes of Jamie Lynne Grumet, age 26) challenging us — “you lookin’ at me?” — to ignore the setup.

  36. Dear Nate–You’re right, the cover is provocative. And manipulative. Intentionally so. As is lots of stuff in our popular culture. Too much to bother giving examples. I just worry that there might be an added (and perhaps not entirely conscious) charge in the objections to this photo because it depicts a sexually attractive young woman nursing a rather large boy. Heterosexual men are bound to be more reactive to that, than I am as a heterosexual woman. Just nature, perhaps. Plus, I am concerned that the discussion devolves too quickly to the whole good-mom/bad-mom meme, and that’s definitely already at play in the commentary here. Anyway, please don’t imagine that I mean to go all lacto-commando on the question of whether and where and how long women breast-feed. I don’t care to make some stand on that. I’m simply urging Catholics to be a little less sanctimonious and strident, in general. For the sake of the American Church, and for the sake of younger generations, whose sensibilities are not the same as middle-aged white guys, and whom we are losing in unconscionable numbers.

  37. The point is, that it’s exploitation of a child in a scene intentionally freighted with sexual imagery, notwithstanding the coy, fig leaf “who, me?” premise.

  38. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    We have a number of people commenting here who are not Catholic, and who find that picture wrongheaded and offensive. I’d be wary of sweeping generalizations and stereotypes.

    I wonder: would any of us have reacted differently if the mother was 40 and obese?


  39. Children as old as young Master Grumet in the picture are old enough to be in Kindergarten (I started at age 4; he is at least as old as that). Kindergarten children who still need maternal suckling (or have it pushed upon them) are in for many years of psychological damage. I was reading at that age. Mozart was playing and composing music.

  40. wineinthewater says:

    There are numerous benefits. Though other foods are available, breast milk is still a nutritional powerhouse for a growing child, providing the right kind of calories and fat. There is an immunological aspect to breast milk that is also beneficial. There is an emotional benefit as well.

    In the US we see breast-feeding past 2 as weird, but we are the weird ones for feeling that way. The human weening age is anywhere from 3 to 7! 2 is generally seen as a minimum for breast feeding, but we treat it as a maximum. It’s just another example of the poor nutritional practices of our culture.

    Now, that all being said, this photo is weird. There *should be* nothing weird about a mother still nursing a 3 or even 4 year-old. But doing it for the cover of Time, especially with the relative positions of mother and son (and the way they made the son look as old as possible), that is weird. And though there should be nothing wrong with nursing a three or four year-old, the reality is that we are a culture that thinks that there is. It’s one thing to risk ridicule and judgement on yourself for a cause, but quite another to risk it on your child. A parent shouldn’t be exposing their child to that kind of harm, even if the harm is unjust.

  41. Exactly. It’s not the nursing (or diaper changing) that’s the problem; it’s the provocative magazine cover.

  42. Er…Uh….Wow….just….wow. Time Magazine has achieved *exactly* what it wants with this picture–based on the headline (and not having read the piece yet) regarding Dr. Sears, my prediction is that the article is about the supposed “extremism” of attachment parenting espoused by Sears.

    There’s really nothing “right” about this picture as it is a mere parody of extended breastfeeding–something I’ve observed for the last two decades as the father of eleven children.

    God bless all you moms who have given so much to your children! But God have mercy on whomever art-directed that photo….!

  43. That is the sort of image I would expect from a magazine typically delivered in a brown paper wrapper.

  44. So if it’s not that it’s breastfeeding that’s offensive, and it’s not that the child is older (though lots of snarky comments about that), what exactly is it that’s offensive about this picture? That he’s looking into the camera instead of at his mother?

    I agree with AM Murphy. I find the cover provocative–as I do lots of images in popular culture. But I don’t see what all the hoopla is about.

    Deacon Greg and a few others insist that it’s not sexual, or that breastfeeding older kids is not bad, but plenty of other commenters here are saying just that.

  45. don’t imagine that I mean to go all lacto-commando

    I don’t. I imagine you’re going all condescending, suggesting that the leading reasons to be troubled by the photo are repression and male insecurity.

    I can’t get over how creepy the photo shoot must have been: “OK, can you whip it out now? We can’t see the kid’s face, can you turn more this way? OK, hold it there — just five more frames.” Words fail me. Yes, it’s crypto-porn.

  46. Really? My husband diapers our 3-year-old daughter every night–and bathes her too. I”m shocked at the opinions in these comments.

  47. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Well, your mileage may vary, Heidi.

    My take: judging from the way he’s dressed, he’s clearly supposed to look older than he really is. (Having the boy and his mother both gazing at the camera implies a self-awareness that adds to a sense of heightened maturity.) And that’s part of the provocation: how old is too old for breast feeding?

    It’s clearly sparking discussion, and anyone standing in a checkout line at the grocery store will be jolted when they see it. But will someone actually want to buy the magazine with that kind of in-your-face cover?

    I’m not so sure.


  48. Oh, come on, no one actually BUYS magazines anymore! But plenty of folks are looking at it, sharing it and discussing the contents. So I guess Time achieved its goal. And plenty of us are not offended by it.

    Full disclosure: My children, who are 3 and a half and 4 and a half, both still suck on a bottle at night. Because of my work schedule and the fact that they were adopted at about a year old, I did not breastfeed. So my children –who are older than that boy–re not yet “weaned” either, but I bet most folks wouldn’t have a problem with that–because it doesn’t involve my bare breast.

    Women’s bodies still freak a lot of people (Catholic and otherwise, though I bet Europeans wouldn’t make such a stink about this) out–as evidenced by the reaction to this. Sigh.

  49. Interesting. In many of those images, the boy is also looking at the “camera.”

  50. IntoTheWest says:

    I just threw up in my mouth a little…

    That photograph is not only insanely inappropriate, it puts the mother in question of child abuse, IMO. She is deliberately sexualizing the situation and her son, regardless of her intent (which is to shock, to titillate, to provoke, anyway, which means at best she’s politicizing her child).

    Yes, breastfeeding babies is fine. Breastfeeding boys of that age and size in an upper-middle class western culture is all about the mother and never about the child. It’s revolting and selfish and more than a little perverse.

  51. IntoTheWest says:

    Yep. You nailed it.

    As for Time, they’re complicit in the manipulation of this child, and they’re in it for the money. Which makes them as crass and depraved as it gets.

  52. IntoTheWest says:


    She’s a “sexy young mother, flashing just a bit of what God gave her, and it’s inevitable that some men may find themselves titillated.” Which means she knows that the picture is titillating, and that she (and you, I suppose) believes God gave her breasts to “flash”. And which means she willingly chose to use her child in a photograph she knew would be titillating.

    Where I come from, they call that child porn.

    When the boob-nazis are so far gone that they shrug this photo off as something normal and natural in ANY culture, I’m pretty sure we can discount them as nothing but a pack of fringe weirdos who should probably all be put on some kind of registry so the rest of us can keep our kids away from them.

  53. No, Heidi. What’s interesting is that the boy on the cover of Time is looking at the viewer. He’s doing so because the art director set it up this way to in mimicry of the sacred icons, which came first. The director for the cover shoot plainly knows his art history and set out to make a burlesque of the original image, for the benefit of this Christ-haunted world. There’s a lot more going on here than just journalism. Sooner or later everything comes back to Jesus and his Incarnation.

  54. IntoTheWest says:

    Again, right on the money, Romulus. This was a created situation, including a studio full of lighting techs, sound guys, cameramen.

    What should have been a private moment has been whored out for all the wrong reasons — money, shock effect, attention, political agenda, et al.

    This boy was used, was pimped out by his mother.

    That we have to tiptoe around the obvious lest we offend the extremist lactivist crowd is ridiculous.

    It has nothing to do with Catholicism or prudery, much less Catholic prudery.

    Parents’ primary objective is protecting their children. A parent who deliberately puts her child in the path of the kind of blowback this cover shot will garner (and deservedly so), is not fulfilling their primary objective. In fact, they’re doing the opposite.

  55. IntoTheWest says:

    Actually, their dentist can’t be happy at all about your 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 year old children sucking on a bottle at night — especially if it’s in bed and they’re not brushing their teeth until morning.

  56. I’ll come right out and say it – Breast feeding is natural, and a good thing. I still don’t want to see it. Much along the line that excreting waste is natural and good, and I really don’t want to see it on the cover of Time either.

  57. Heidi, see above. It’s not the nursing that the majority object to (though clearly some object to that); it’s the purposely provocative image all over a magazine cover. My husband usually takes care of bath time in our house too – but I would never pose them bizarrely and plaster the photos all over the grocery store. That’s the part that becomes child objectification and radically poor judgement, even if I probably wouldn’t classify it on the level of abuse.
    Anne Geddes does lovely nursing mom photos and the nursing Madonna and Child depictions are beautiful too; this cover is not remotely in that category. Like JPII says in ToB: the problem with porn is not that it shows “too much” of the person, the problem is that it shows too little by reducing the person to mere object. This photo is meant that way: not to illuminate the beauty of the mother-child bond, but to make that bond look squicky. Excellent job, Time, reinforcing the idea that motherhood is not good and beautiful and normal/normative, but is weird and demeaning and all about self and not self-gift.

  58. Oregon Catholic says:

    “I wonder: would any of us have reacted differently if the mother was 40 and obese?


    I was thinking along similar lines. I will bet that because the woman is young and fit, attractive and trendy looking, and has an I-dare-you-to-criticise-me stare the young feminists (who know little of real motherhood) will think it’s cool. If she had been cradleing her (too old) breastfeeding child and dressed like she came from a fundamentalist church there would be condemnation of her being used as a breed cow by her husband who keeps her barefoot and pregnant.

  59. IntoTheWest says:

    Or she’d be depicted as a lower-income “trailer trash” mom, or something, if she wasn’t cute and hot and hip.

    However, regardless of her appearance, if the shot had been similarly posed, people would still find it exceedingly inappropriate for all the same reasons.

  60. Our whole solipsistic culture has devolved down to barnyard standard of conduct. Keep it under wraps. Not interested. Yes it’s GROSS to ME. Yes, I’m sure pedophiles are going to love this cover. I really hate our culture more and more each day.

  61. I know this comment thread is about the picture – not the article itself on Dr. Peters and attachment parenting – the link is not taking me to this story – there is probably a Time subscription needed – guess I will be going to the grocery store and buy a magazine!

  62. It’s water.

  63. Their dentist is fine with it,since it’s just water.

  64. Interesting conspiracy theory. I’d be curious to know if that’s what the photographer had in mind.

  65. Wonder when folks think Jesus was weaned?

    Again, I’m happy to report that a daughter weaned after age three (two decades ago) has not needed therapy and is a mom of two beautiful children of her own.

    But, this is the nature of this inappropriate parody image intended to provoke–it’s doing just that, testing both our “sexual” and “familial” filters, so to speak. There are lots of reasons to be critical of this particular photo, but not because it depicts a mom nursing a “three”-year-old….it’s “how” this is depicted that is the problem, right?

    God bless.

  66. IntoTheWest says:

    So then it’s just like a pacifier, which makes the dynamic totally different. Plus, at their ages, using a bottle at night is an autonomous act. They’re self-pacifying. Much more age-appropriate. Plus, the problem with the Time cover is, well, the Time cover. It’s the nature of the picture and that the mother is in cahoots with the Time editors and production team to come up with the most controversial photo permissible by the law, regardless of what it does to her child. It completely dehumanizes him, uses him, manipulates him, and disregards his welfare. That is sinful, in every sense of the word.

  67. All I can say is poor boy, once he’s old enough for his school buddies to see this on the Internet. I was among the first generation of La Leche League moms in the early 70s, and my son weaned himself (by saying No thanks) at 14 months, so I won’t argue length of time nursing or say that breastfeeding is sexual when it’s not. But this photo IS sexualized, in order to be provocative, with mom’s perkily saluting unoccupied breast and pelvic thrust. Hopefully there will come a time when she realizes What was I thinking? and apologizes to her son for publicly exploiting him and setting him up for (unjustified but inevitable) future ridicule.

  68. Midwestlady says:

    Yes, this has no place on the front of a magazine. The people involved have been exploited, including the little boy.

    That said, the attitude toward breast feeding in American culture is warped, totally warped. Time magazine knows this and is probably just trying to sell more copies of their crappy magazine.

  69. Midwestlady says:

    1. In American culture, many people don’t understand breast feeding except as a platitude, a moral event, a focus of emotion or a failure. Let me explain:

    On the one hand, nursing is highly touted for its benefits and the great majority of new mothers are sent forth from the hospital with expectations, directions and handy-dandy kits donated by manufacturers of baby goods, even though the great majority of new mothers don’t persist in nursing for very long. Breast feeding requires a lot of patience and some real understanding of the physical phenomenon as a woman–generally it’s taught by an older woman when it’s successful. Hospitals do not usually refer new mothers to the La Leche League International, where they can find that teacher, simply because a) they’re just filling a market need, and b) breast feeding has been co-opted by the establishment just as Lamaze has, and there is still some degree of convert animosity afoot, and c) they don’t know any better. When women try these deeply personal things for themselves and fail, there can be very real emotional responses which are not always explicable, to either parent. People can get very defensive or disappointed about these things. So there are a LOT of undocumented emotions around this topic.

    On the other hand, the promotion of the female figure as a sex object in American culture includes the cult of the breast, which categorizes it as ONLY a sex organ, an object of pleasure to a man. Some people, a large number of people, male and female in our culture, just cannot get past the effects of this promotion. And so any woman breast-feeding in public is likely to be judged on some moral criterion directly connected with sexual behavior.

    2. This little boy is a tad big to be breast-feeding for the sake of nutrition in the US, and I think perhaps there’s an article in the magazine that they’ve cited as the putative motivation for putting this on the cover. Do I believe that’s why this picture is really on the cover? Not for one microsecond.

    PS, sometimes you see pictures of children in 3rd world countries nursing into late toddlerhood. There, nursing that late may be warranted completely by circumstances since a) food is scarce and this can keep a child in good health until it’s old enough to really survive on its own, and b) nursing has a very real natural contraceptive effect and can naturally and morally delay the conception of younger siblings while an older sibling is still struggling to survive.

  70. Mozart might have lived longer, if he’s nursed longer.

  71. Midwestlady says:

    What’s unnatural and perhaps immoral about this is placing the photograph out of context on the front of a national magazine in the US. Children nurse at home or with friends & family or under a cover in the car. It’s wise & modest not to be too explicit about what you’re doing in front of strangers.

    Nursing a child is not unnatural or immoral. Nursing a child to the age of 3 also isn’t particularly immoral or unnatural, although it’s not necessary in the USA for nutritional reasons, and in the USA it does invite unwanted judgmentalism and nasty comments. Nursing a child to the age of 3 is also quite unusual in the USA. Most mothers in the USA can’t maintain a nursing relationship that lasts 6 months and involves full lactation, let alone 3 years.

    It is possible, although very, very rare to see a child nurse later than this in this country. Whether it gets questionable or not depends on the moral context just like everything else. Americans are starved for meaning and physical touch so could this happen? I suppose, but it would be very, very unusual. All the other variations of child abuse, aka molestation by an uncle etc, are far, far, far more likely to occur.

    A person also has to remember what the child hears. If the child really rejects the breast, which some children do at 1 or 2 years of age for nutritional reasons, or signals that he understands that something else could be going on–bright child, tv shows etc–nursing has to end pronto. It’s all about context, context, context. And the context isn’t good in the USA.

  72. Midwestlady says:

    Yes, the pose is very contrived and the child is being sensitized to the event. You can tell. This is not how natural nursing looks.

  73. IntoTheWest says:

    I’m pretty sure no amount of breastfeeding would’ve countered the whoring and drinking and generally decadent lifestyle he led — and led pre-antibiotics. ;~)

  74. Midwestlady says:

    I think any likeness you get out of that is a complete coincidence. Women breastfeeding often hear Madonna comments out of other people. It’s that Americans actually see a child at breast so seldom that this is the only other picture they usually have to call upon in their minds. That’s probably what you’re perceiving. Not at all uncommon reaction.

  75. Midwestlady says:

    One of the interesting things that can happen to new parents is that the father sometimes gets jealous of the new baby. I mean mom is very busy and dad is getting taken advantage of, and there’s this new physicality that the mom has. Dad doesn’t have her full attention any more. Women operate intimately in more than one mode and men normally don’t. Shock!

    This is quite normal but it usually throws new parents completely off-guard. Some people take it in their stride and some don’t.

  76. Midwestlady says:

    Right, with the fully dressed tall-for-his-age kid standing on a footstool, glaring at the viewer. This is not how normal breast-feeding looks.

  77. Midwestlady says:

    Here many women don’t know how to breast-feed for a ton of reasons, so it’s not so common. But nursing is an enormous advantage to a child, yes, if you know how to do it.

  78. Midwestlady says:


  79. You’re out of your league here, Deacon. Breastfeeding a three year old is normal and healthy. And there are many paintings of Our Lady nursing a toddler Christ and both of them are “looking at the camera.” This photo is (intentionally) provocative because in the USA we have a taboo against this very normal practice.

    Nuestra Senora de la leche, pray for us.

  80. Midwestlady says:

    In back country Nazareth that long ago? Probably 3 or 4 years old.

  81. Midwestlady says:

    Someday in the not too distant future, this kid is going to be a 25 year old man trying to get a job. I sure hope his name isn’t in the article on the Internet.

  82. I know it was done for shock value, but I actually like the picture. I don’t find it sexual at all, but maybe because I don’t think breasts are fundamentally sexual, they are fundamentally for feeding.

  83. pagansister says:

    Romulus, most schools now do not start children in Kindergarten until they are 5, or have to be 5 by Oct. 1. The kids need maturity, and most 4 years do not have that, no matter how bright they are. You may be in my age bracket—as I was allowed to start at 4—way tooooo young. I was most certainly too young and it didn’t make school easy for me.

  84. Yes. Three-year olds these days are quite savvy about digital cameras, posing for pictures, and taking pictures themselves.

  85. Please. Re: Time being a “silly magazine.” I’ve just read two interesting articles in Time: one about the current political scandal in China; the other about vocation schooling.

  86. Midwestlady says:

    Really pagansister? I’ve always been glad I started at 4.

  87. Bill Kelly says:

    Amazing – Child Pornography on a magazine cover – disgusting. No I am not offended by women breast feeding – give me a break.

  88. justamouse says:

    I cannot believe the amount of people who look at this as sexual. They have bought into modern advertising, hook, line, and sinker. Child abuse? Pedophiles? My head is spinning.

    That said, I hate it. It’s a grenade in the Mommy Wars.

    And, Dr. Sears didn’t *remake* attachment parenting-he *restored* it.

  89. IntoTheWest says:

    People are seeing it as sexual, because the picture has been designed to provoke that response. A mother who volunteers herself and her child to be used this way is guilty, at best, of seriously poor judgment and lack of proper priorities. I’m not sure if this appeals to pedophiles or not, but this dances dangerously close to child abuse IMO.

    It’s an unnatural picture, and a small child was used in order to make it. It’s disgusting. It also has absolutely zero to do with breastfeeding, which is why it’s ultimately pornographic and abusive.

  90. Restored it, really? I think “attachment” parenting is “helicopter” parenting, on steroids. I thought the whole idea of parenting was to set your child free with all of the tools to survive on his own. This joke concept makes me think that these helicopter mothers are all about themselves. The gross visual of the poor kid as an appendage about sums it up.

  91. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Should we ban all the images of Mary nursing the Christ Child ? I have in mind, among other images, the Virgin “del la leche y buen parto” venerated in Saint Augustine, Florida.

  92. Is this a serious question Lawrence? How can you profane such images of the Blessed Mother by drawing a comparison to this garbage? Are you blind?

  93. Midwestlady says:

    “Attachment parenting” isn’t the only instance of that. People use their children to vicariously relive their childhoods and remake their lives all the time. It something teachers see a lot of and it can cause a lot of trouble.
    In addition, we live in a very lonely culture, and some people cling to their children for companionship, bio-relationally like this and otherwise, but some of it is just not appropriate.
    If a person is nursing to be nursing, fine, then it’s quite healthy and normal even at three. But when this other stuff comes in and it starts to get pathological, it needs to stop. Unfortunately, people can be willfully blind about these things for exactly the same reason they do them.

  94. Midwestlady says:

    Do you really think the Virgin Mary would adopt that pose in front of a camera in that way? I don’t.

    Look, the Madonna portraits aren’t photos. They’re artists’ conceptions from another age when breast-feeding was much more common, with a constellation of meanings that are now gone in our culture. They’re artwork, painted by hand, without a living model. The Madonna phenomenon is an entirely different thing than this photo.

    It happens to be true that when a mother nurses, particularly if she’s nursing a little boy, she will hear Madonna comments. It’s one of the things you hear when you nurse. And often. People in American culture don’t have very many mental pictures of nursing, and this one always comes to the front for some people immediately, regardless of what else is going on.

  95. Discrimination. What about the married homosexual men raising children?

  96. Excellent job, Time, reinforcing the idea that motherhood is not good and beautiful and normal/normative, but is weird and demeaning and all about self and not self-gift.

    Spot on, Ann. Spot on.

  97. Speaking as a mom who nursed all five of my kids (but none longer then a year because, frankly, nursing was very hard on me both emotionally and physically), what concerns me is that this picture has likely been photoshopped in addition to being provocatively staged. I know there is NO WAY I could have stood in front of a camera, without a nursing bra, and appeared the way that mom does. Now, since she’s nursing an older child, she is probably not producing much milk. And maybe this is her only child (my body looked much better after having my first then it does now in my mid-forties after five kids). So, not only are there sexual undertones to this cover shot (yes, there are), we also have this very photogenic, young mom in skinny jeans, no bra and probably a digitally altered body taunting other women who have no chance of ever looking like that. It seems TIME is more interested in encouraging the “mommy wars” (“look at the hot mom we have on our cover this week!”) then in actually having a discussion about the pros and cons of attachment parenting. “Are you Mom enough?” Really?

  98. I was always the youngest in my class, but never noticed any resulting ill effect. Some people are immature their whole lives.

  99. pagansister says:

    During the last 10 years I taught, the rule in the state I taught in, RI, changed the rules and children had to be 5 by October 1 to enter kindergarten. Before that law changed, it was relatively easy to figure out which children were going to be 5 in December or November, as they were just not ready for school, even those who had been in pre-school. The children who had already turned 5 before they started were in most cases much more mature. Many times, not always, it was the boys who were not ready.

  100. I watched the video of them on the Today Show. The child is almost 4 years old. He whined and groaned through the entire segment. Interrupted her while she was talking, at least 5 times. Slouched up against her, and never even acknowledge anyone else’s presence. If any of this is supposed to be about raising a healthy child, then they have failed. I think the child is, spoiled, self centered and kind of annoying to everyone else in the room. Even Lynn tired to get him to go sit with his father (who was off screen). If he is the poster child for this new form of parenting EPIC FAIL

    There is nothing wrong with breast feeding. It is perfectly healthy for the mother and baby. But this picture was done for pure shock value. It is exploitation at its worst. Lynne even says in an interview, this is not how she nurses at home.

  101. pagansister says:

    Midwestlady, let’s face it—we have no idea what the Virgin Mary would have done had there been camera’s in those days.

  102. pagansister says:

    jcd: What ABOUT married homosexual men raising children? Some folks have a problem with that. What’s your opinion?

  103. Actually we Catholics do have an idea.

  104. I once read a vitriolic and purile-minded anti-religious type write that women who spoke of submitting to their husbands proved that, for those women, it was all about oral sex.

    Besides being offensive to say aloud it is even more offensive to speak authoritatively and snidely about the basic motivations of other people trying to do something so complex as nurture family relationships within a deeply-held system of beliefs…not to mention reducing those actions to whatever is in your own mind.

    OregonCatholic, your comment reminds me of that. The difference is that you insinuated it, where he stated it outright.

  105. I completely agree that this picture is not really sexual, per se, but it is partly-sexually sensationalized, especially considering the fact that there are so many people who think that just the *hint* (mom with covered breast, in the room with others) of breastfeeding is suggestive and awful.

    Actually it does a fabulous job of provoking just …everybody.

  106. You know, she might have raised him to be a spoiled brat already but that is not the only explanation for his behavior. My special-needs kid is very highly functional but has extreme anxiety in conjunction with his disability and acts absolutely awful when around people and in spaces he does not know well. Just food for thought.

  107. Romulus, you really did “nail it” — especially the impact this story will have on the boy if not now but definitely in the future. The Mom is obviously a loser, and she’s risking turning her son into one. As for Time magazine, they’re just being sleazy.

  108. I work at the rectory and the priests got this in the mail… it gave me a laugh thinking what their reaction would be! I wish I was there to see it.

  109. Deacon Bill Gallerizzo says:

    The picture is clearly superimosed. A good job, but superimposed. Her shadows and his don’t coincide, even if studio lighting were used. Nonetheless, Newsweek has become like most other news venues, interested in what is selling magazines, rather than reporting on the critical issues of our time. The Super-Parent Syndrome has been going on for some time, and many of us have preached on it and counseled parishioners on this for years. Now Newsweek thinks that by putting out a headline and a sensationalist cover photo that people will take notice. They seemed to guess right that people would rather read something in Newsweek or Time than get the truth from the pulpit. Perhaps we need some good family- centered Catholics to protest Newsweek’s “High Horse” attempts to regulate the human family structure as some folks did about Humanae Vitae. Perhaps if more American parents would concentrate on being parents and stop worrying about how they might destructively affect permanance on their children’s psyches in minute ways, we might have a more constructively energized and self-sufficient next generation. Looks to me, being over 60, both my wife and I and our kids didn’t miss much not being born in recent times. we have to wonder, how did our ancestors survive for thousnds of generations without Time and Newsweek and the purveyance of popular culture.

  110. Deacon Bill Gallerizzo says:

    That’s a huge problem in youth sports: parents vicariously living out their sports fantasies through their kids. It has fueled the rise in parent-to-parent violence at kids athletic events. Not that this photo is a sports fantasy. I haven’t seen anyone mention yet concerning umbilically corded parents but there seems to be a statistical correlation between moms who breastfeed significantly after weaning and moms having self-fulfillment issues. There also seems to be a correlation between late termination of breastfeeding and kids who grow up lacking strong self-motivation. Having worked in classrooms for almost 40 years first as a teacher and now as a teacher and consultant, the problem is growing, and these parents consistenly pass the problems off onto the teachers to the disadvantage of the class and their own kids who want everything, but cannot decide or make well defined choices in life. Isn’t wanting everything what got humans in trouble back in Eden? “Apple…? God…? Apple…? God…? If I have the Apple I can be like God, or so the popular media-serpent tells me. Apple it is!!!” “Sorry, Adam, Caveat Emptor!”


  1. [...] a CommentThe weekly newsmagazines have lost their collective minds.  TIME magazine offered us this jaw-dropper last week.  And now, Newsweek ups the ante.Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek, is quoted here as [...]

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