When Support Isn’t Really Support

I received a comment on one of my blog posts about facebook and photographs that were taken down of breastfeeding moms. I received this comment on January 11th, after I had linked to this blog article on facebook in response to some other “censorship” that facebook had been doing more recently. It took me nearly a month of looking at this comment and wondering what to do with it, before I was able to decide.

The person who left the comment is obviously involved in the breastfeeding circles, because she saw my post on facebook and came back here to leave a comment on my blog (if you click through to see it, scroll down, it is the 12th one). She claims to be a supporter of breastfeeding. Yet, this is what she had to say:

“it IS viewed as sexual when the child is FIVE. I will fight that till the end.. that is ABUSE. as for breast feeding infant–I’m for it! but keep the ABUSIVE pictures off-line!”

Breastfeeding My Toddler

How can you claim to be a breastfeeding supporter, but attack mothers so vehemently? How can you come to my blog, where I openly discuss breastfeeding my son for nearly 4 years and my views on extended nursing and call what I do and what I support abusive?

I didn’t know what to do with this comment. I was shocked and saddened by it. I have the commenter’s email address (it’s only visible to moderators), so I looked her up on facebook. I don’t know her personally, but I would never pass such harsh judgements on her as she has done on me. How can anyone say that they support breastfeeding, but draw some arbitrary line in the sand about how long they will support it for or for whom they support it?

I published her comment because she left it and she wanted it to be heard. I wrote this article because I want her to know that support should not be judgmental and I want to encourage her to look outside of the lines and imagine views that differ from her own.

What would you tell this mom? How would you encourage her to be more open minded about views that she may not share? I’d love to have your feedback!

13 comments to When Support Isn’t Really Support

  • That’s a tough one. I don’t have a problem with breastfeeding going that long either. It’s unusual in this country, but that doesn’t make it bad or abusive.

  • Shannon

    I’m curious what she has to say about WHO recommendations for breastfeeding, or that they specifically state that the average age of SELF weaning ranges anywhere from 2 years of age to 7 worldwide. Does this mean WHO promotes child sexual abuse?

  • stacy h

    im not going to judge a mom for bfing >5 years anymore than id judge a mom for bottle feeding.

  • I agree with you. This is wrong of Facebook, but why do we keep going back and back to Facebook, if they do this. If Facebook is okay with sexual pictures, but are blatantly opposed to breastfeeding pictures, why do we log on yet again. I do to keep in touch with my friends and relatives. I’ve been thinking if every breastfeeding mother didn’t log on to Facebook for a week, two weeks, or a month, then Facebook would probably think twice about this. Or if another social networking site popped up that was okay with breastfeeding pictures. Yes, it stinks, but my point is that if we keep logging in multiple times/day, Facebook’s not going to listen. People are still using their site.

  • Well… while I certainly believe that everyone is entitled to their opinions, no matter how much I disagree, this person is clearly taking it beyond opinion. Calling the mothering of a toddler “abuse” is not an opinion and can be harmful, if the person crying abuse decides to involve authorities.

    Look around. Abuse means neglect. Abuse means forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. Abuse means causing physical or emotional trauma. Abuse certainly is not sharing natural, physical contact by breastfeeding a child.

    I would also dispute this person’s “credential” as a breastfeeding advocate. If she truly understood the nursing dynamic, she would know that nursing a child into preschool-hood is certainly a challenge and definitely not solely for the mother’s benefit.

  • Vanessa, you took the words right out of my mouth. Well said!

  • While I do think everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I do not think it is OK to judge others or to criticise other people’s choices. The definition of abuse is physical mistreatment or to cause harm to someone or something else. Breastfeeding is in no way abuse, it is about nourishment and comfort. Sure, a child that is five probably doesn’t need as much nourishment from the breast as an infant, but the child is still receiving plenty of benefits from breast milk and breastfeeding is also used for comfort. I also don’t understand how it is sexual when the child is five? Fifteen yes, but five? This is exactly what is meant by unsupportive support, those who pass judgement and say breastfeeding is OK, but not after they are a year old, or not in public, etc. Regardless of what anyone says, it is wonderful that you breastfed for four years.

  • Jane

    I think you could fairly gently poke at her argument and show that it is itself warped. Anyone who views a 5 year old as sexual has got things backwards – THEY are putting the sexual nature on the interaction and they don’t understand the true innocence of children. Yes children are erotic and play with themselves, but children don’t understand or want the kind of interaction that adult sexual activity involves. SO – I would put it back to her – was she abused? Why does she sexualize 5 year olds? and breasts? If someone is going to go there, I think it is fair to respond in kind to an an extent. The level of repressed sexuality and ignorance out there is saddening and depressing and I guess blogging exposes you to it.

  • Jenisr Svetlik

    I support breastfeeding, but I do have my opinion of breastfeeding into the older toddlerhood. However, this does not mean her comment is correct at all. Everyone has their preference on breastfeeding and for how long. She has crossed the line between support and outright badgering breastfeeding. I view her opinion, so to speak, as harsh and ignorance. What she says is wrong and very unsupportive.

  • ducki

    My opinion is that Breastfeeding that long is unnessary, but that’s MY opinion. But I don’t understand with how that’s abusive. I agree with the others that if someone’s sexualising a 5 year old, s/he is the one with the problem. While I don’t think that it’s necessary, I certainly don’t seem the harm in it. There is some health benefits and if it’s something the mother and child want to do it, what’s the harm. Now, if the mother was forcing the child to Breastfeed, that would be abusive. It also be a pretty neat feat as its not something you can really make a child do.

  • Monica Piguee

    “Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”.

    You do not need to reply back to that woman; she clearly has some hang-ups of her own and this was just one way to express her issues. I get backlash about even the remote possibility of bf’ing past a certain age and my son is only 8 months old! I kindly remind them what the WHO guidelines are ” Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.”. I especially enunciate the “or beyond” portion LOL :-)

    You have a lot of support mamma! Focus on that and know there are so many of us fighting the same battle against ignorance day in and day out!

  • Helen

    I’m sorry that anyone would comment so rudely on your nursing your five year old. It’s possible that they are not aware that the average age of (self)weaning is 4 years of age, which means that some 1 year olds are done nursing, and some 6 year olds havn’t had their weaning parties yet. Unfortunately, blogging is so very public, and you just never know who is reading the blog, or what their background is. Unfortunately there are some breastfeeding advocates who believe firmly that babies should be weaned by a certain age.

  • Thanks for your support everyone! The funniest part is – the comment that this person replied to was about breastfeeding photos being taken down from facebook. And if you look at the original post, they are both of INFANTS. Never in the discussion – either on facebook or here on the post that she commented on – was their any mention of how old the child was and the photographs were of infants. So I don’t what even sent her off on a tangent. Regardless, of what it was, I feel that only the mother can know what is best for her situation and her child. And you are right @Ducki – it would be a pretty difficult thing to force a 5 year old to nurse if they didn’t want to! ^Judy

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge