Time breastfeeding cover sparks controversy

The cover of the latest Time magazine illustrates a story about 72-year-old pediatrician Dr. William Sears with a photo of a nearly 4-year-old boy standing and suckling at the breast of his 26-year-old mother.

Headline: "Are you mom enough?"

The story discusses Sears’ support of attachment parenting, a controversial approach to child development that promotes practices such as baby wearing (carrying a baby close in a slinglike cloth carrier), co-sleeping and, of course, breast-feeding.

The cover photo of Jamie Lynne Grumet, a slender California blonde, gazing at the camera nearly expressionless with her preschool-aged son perched at her bosom rocketed through social media circles on Thursday, with screeds, pleas and jokes in tow. Commenters are weighing in on all sides of related issues - parental rights, child advocacy and media sensationalism, to name a few.

"Time magazine" spent much of the day as a trending topic on Twitter and as a hot search on Google. The cover was also the talk of morning shows such as ABC’s "The View" and MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," where Time Editor-in-Chief Rick Stengel discussed the story and Sears.

"He wants you to spend every waking moment, and pretty much every sleeping moment, with your baby," Stengel said.

"What about Octomom or the Duggars?" "The View" co-host Joy Behar quipped. "Are they supposed to sleep with all their children?"

Nancy Mohrbacher, an officer with the Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition, said the cover has sparked the wrong questions.

"The question is not are you mom enough, but is our culture family friendly enough," Mohrbacher said. "The question is not how should we parent, but how do we support and value parenting in our society."

"One of the reasons there can be a conflict with attachment parenting in our culture is we don’t have family-friendly environments. It’s not part of our culture. We’re expected to have a strict dichotomy between family and the rest of our lives."

But is the Time cover attempting to promote those conversations, or just trying to stand out at a tough time for magazines? Or both?

"The point of a cover is to get your attention," Stengel said on MSNBC, "and this gets your attention."


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