Friday, August 26, 2011

Head to Heads

So we're making head way in our house. We now down to the decorations and reorganizing our closet which turned into throw-it-in-there area. I still need to vacuum and put in more shelf paper. The books are out and the dvds are out too. We knocked out a number of those boxes and then I went through all the half full boxes and was able to sort all that out. We're getting close.

Hubby took a few days off. Right now the lab is about to undergo a software update, so he's been told to work on other things (ie churn out his own papers from previous research). In a couple of weeks, they will have all the software stuff done so he'll be busy then. He thinks that in October they plan on making a trip to pick out lunar samples for his research. Before that, he has to decide what kind of criteria for samples they want to have.

We also set up an account here in town, which took a whole hour. Moving is such a pain. You have to uproot your stuff, your finances, everything. And we get to do it again in a couple of years.

There are a lot of head to heads these days. One in particular is gay marriage rights vs religious rights. Of course, religious rights are being trampled upon. The Little Catholic Bubble wrote an excellent article about this whole head to head.

I also wrote an article that is creating a bit of a stir. I knew that it might given the forum it's in. It's about another type of head-to-head: the right of a breastfeeding mother to nurse her child in public and the rights of parents to shield their children from breastfeeding. It saddens me though especially one commenters remark.

By that I mean, so what if parents have to explain breastfeeding to their child? They have to explain everything else. What's the difference between explaining breastfeeding and explaining why women have breasts, or why men grow hair on their faces, or why people have feet?! There's nothing to be embarassed or ashamed about, it's just a fact of life. ...We need more women breastfeeding in public for the exact reason that children will see it and it will become the 'norm'. Parents should be challenged to explain it to their children, so it becomes an everyday thing and not something to feel uncomfortable about.

The part that bothers me is that this is exactly the reason why people are starting to hate people who nurse in public. There is sort of a militant, unyielding nature to it. In this case, it's a person basically saying that a parent doesn't have the right to shield their child from something that is against their values. And to point a fact, "parents should be challenged to explain it." I suppose that I can't agree. Using a child to change a families values is wrong. It's also the reason why families are leaving the public school system and turning to homeschooling. In California, parents no longer have the right to say they disagree with a homosexual lifestyle and therefore do not want it to be taught to their children.

So I suppose you could say that while I promote nursing in public (obviously just look at the blog), I disagree with how it should be promoted. I think having a healthy conversation with the adults is important. I don't think using children is. And that is the difference, which I hope that I clarified in my comment about the piece.

This head to head really isn't about two adults and deciding their values. It's about having the right to decide what values your child should have and what things they are exposed to. I respect all parent's rights, short of child abuse, no matter how far fetched they may seem. I know that a family member doesn't want her child to eat cookie dough or cake batter because of the raw eggs in it. I know people who don't want their child to have pork. I respect these people's decisions. Why is it so complicated to not respect someone who doesn't want to have their child see another person's breasts? While it may seem odd, it's still their belief system.

So I will yield. If another adult with a child asks me not to breastfeed in front of their child, I will respect their wishes but make my beliefs about nursing in public known. We both keep our heads up that way.


  1. The problem I see with this is there is a huge difference between a child seeing a baby being nursed and giving someone else's child raw cookie dough or pork. Now if you went up, picked up their crying baby and latched them on without their consent.. that would be comparable and a real issue. I don't eat pork... I don't want my kids eating pork (unfortunately I have to compromise with my hubby on it and its more like a delay for mine)but I'm not going to censor everyone around us. They see other people eating it. They understand that one person believes its ok (well Kalila does) and that I don't. At the same time they see bottles everywhere. They see formula everywhere. Even with me nursing Kalila for 26 months, with me still nursing ZJ... she already has the mindset that its more normal to bottle feed and I can't do a blessed thing about it. I've had her argue with me, tell me I'm wrong for nursing ZJ (and she was barely 3!!!). I've heard her say her doll is too "big" to "have a boo". Everytime we see someone with a bottle I end up fighting this battle all over again, but I'm not about to say they don't have the right to feed their child with one in front of her. Baby's hungry & ultimately its their decision to go that route and if it causes issues between me & my daughter then I'm the one that has to deal with it, not them. I would feel horrible if a mom felt she had to disturb her child to take it somewhere else because of us in that situation. Babies need to eat when they need to eat. And legally we have the right to do it, whichever way that we choose to. And... militant lactivist idea or not, our culture needs to get over its fear of breasts or the idea that they're for sex alone.

  2. Note: Now if I'm at someone else's house around their child that is a diff matter. I cover up a lot more strictly when a child who's parent I know is uncomfortable with it is around. But I'm not going to not feed my child or leave a public area unnecessarily.

  3. I suppose that I have a rhetorical question and a statement. So if you were out in a shopping mall for instance, where they have those nice comfortable nursing rooms complete with couches. Yet you were in the food court right next to them. Just finished eating and was just chatting or something and someone politely asked you not to nurse in front of them because there is another area designated. Then they explain that it bothers their child or their husband or whatever. What would you do? Would you be polite as well or get angry? Would you explain that you want to stay there or would you leave to the nice comfy area?

    I've had a talk about this with several people. The key issue is that it's about the parent's rights to shield their child from what they feel is immoral (whether anyone agrees or not). Obviously food is consumed so it's not the same thing, so I used the analogy of sex, but you could say people's manner of dress (showing underwear) for example in the mall. If someone's underwear was showing, I might say something. Maybe they aren't aware. Maybe they don't care. Maybe I'll just simply leave. It all depends of course on context.

    Breastfeeding is one of those social norms that has a wide variety of feelings. I don't like people kissing in front of me, quick pecks or making out. Other people aren't bothered by it. So too is breastfeeding like that. I can't force a person to agree that breastfeeding isn't sexual anymore than I can ask a couple to stop holding hands while walking in the mall. On some level, there is a give and a take. Someone has to give. Is it me or the other guy? And does giving in make me somehow less right and therefore their opinion right, which is what I think a lot of people think it means.

    Which of course is what this whole nursing in public question is about. It's about context. In certain areas or places, one makes an effort to respect other people's feelings usually.

    My friend calls it the "temperature rule." If your in a place with someone and you can remove a layer of clothing or add a layer of clothing on to accommodate being uncomfortable without being immodest, then it's better to do so before asking them to change the temperature.

    The rule can be applied both ways. But here again, it's based on a person's feelings, which are subjective. On the one hand, the nursing mother may get upset to move out of courtesy because she may end up in a bathroom. On the other hand, if it's not really any trouble to turn around for instance, what's the problem?

    We all live in the world and we are all therefore going to have different opinions about a wide range of subjects. We're also going to handle situations as they arise differently. I suppose my method is to try to be courteous to the other person if it's possible. If it's not possible, then I expect some sort of lee way. But not everyone thinks that way about things. I get the feeling that they feel there is no room for compromise. Unfortunately that's how all human interactions work: on compromise. Again this isn't really about yielding or pushing an issue to simply be right. It's about human relationships and respect for parental rights.

    On some level someone has to yield. I assume that in some context you will, but not in others. And I assume that is the case for most people. So for me my line in the sand is different than yours. And that's okay. It's something we all have to think about.

  4. What bothers me, though, is that I get the feeling that people have not thought about this or had an encounter. What would you do if a relative asked you to turn or step out? What would you do if another parent asked you not to in front of their child? How do you handle people you know differently than people you don't know? Maybe they have thought about these things and have decided to force people or "challenge" people. They use themselves as a way to push the subject ahead.

    I don't like to thrust my child into things or use him as a catalyst. If it comes up in a discussion, like it did with my friend, then I discuss. I never once told her she was nuts. Nor did I tell her I thought that she should continue to give her children breastmilk after they turn 1 (she's stopping after that). It's her decision. I arm her with the information and let her choose. Strong arming her will not work (she's a little stubborn anyway).

    And that's how I view it. I can't strong arm anyone, challenge anyone, convince anyone of anything if they don't want to hear it. And I certainly don't think using their children as a sounding board is right. I can't imagine my child coming home and telling me about gay sex. While breastfeeding is normal, that doesn't mean everyone else thinks so. Certainly a number of people think gay sex is normal and think I'm crazy.

    I really can't find a very good analogy to breastfeeding so no matter what example I use, I think someone will say it's not the same thing. But having a good analogy doesn't matter, it only matters how the other person feels and how I choose to handle it.

  5. You've got some good points, and are right there really isn't anything comparable. That's part of the problem lol.

    With Kalila I did a lot more yeilding... I cowered in bathrooms because a family member sent me there. I can honestly tell you I will never go to her house again. I was in tears and I hadn't even tried to feed K outside of there, she heard she was hungry & sent me there immediately. It was awful. At the other aunts they said I could use the back room... I'd spend almost the entire day back there alone with the baby while I could hear everyone else laughing and having a good time. At first it was nice getting a break every now and then becuase I'm shy and was a bit overwhelmed... but by the time she weaned I dreaded going because of it. With ZJ I just never did it. I completely cover him up (blanket) but I nurse in their living room/dining room/whatever and have not gotten a neg word about it. A few jokes now that he tries to pull it out lol, but most of those revolve around him being a boy or that my GFIL was nursed until 2.. something I didn't know. His mom's parents I still go in the back room because I know they think its something dirty and should be hidden away. Its their house... and I try to enjoy having a break while I'm there but honestly I end up pretty bitter by the end of it.

    In public... it depends there too. Lately since ZJ pulls off so readily (or tries to whip it out lol) I've gone back to using blankets in most situations even though I don't like doing it. Pretty much the only time I don't (lately) is here at home, pedi's office, or in our truck if I randomly end up nursing there. A nursing room would be great and if a good one were available I could see using it, but I don't think its someone's place to tell me to go there. (Like I said before, I certainly wouldn't tell them to stop mixing formula or bottle feeding in front of my daughter) I'd be polite about it, but it'd upset me. If its there and I'm not in it I'd have a reason I wasn't in there and I can think of a few that are plausible in my life. Kalila disturbing other mama's in there being a big one. For the most part though... that's a moot point. Most places here don't have them. I can think of one store that does. None of the malls here do.

    As for childrens questions, I guess that's another area we differ. I certainly agree that I don't agree with some of that stuff either lol, but at some point I know I will be asked. Kids ask awkward questions all the time. We're already starting to get some. I may not be thrilled about having to explain somethings (and we have already drawn the line saying we'd explain a couple she's already asked when she's a little older lol) but that's life/the world we live in. I'm not going to shelter her from it too much. I've seen what that can do.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!