I was somewhat put off by the picture of this woman breast feeding her son at age 8, but as I thought about it what specifically is wrong morally or socially about her deciding to do this? Other than being somwhat oogy (at least to me) I don’t see how it can harm him. Nutritionally it shoud be OK, he’s not competing with other, smaller siblings for the milk and as long as no psycho sexual confusions are being generated what is wrong about it other than the defiance of social conventions for normal ages of weaning.
As for the breast-feeding – nasty. She doesn’t give any sort of reason for why she’s still doing it. It can’t possibly be helping him, in any way. To me, it’s not much different from keeping him in diapers until he’s eight, just so you can pretend he’s still a baby. He’s not. Get over it.
Well, I hesitate to judge because I think U.S. society already has very ill-informed and wrong attitudes about breastfeeding. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a 3-yr-old breastfeeding, for example. Eight years old doesn’t feel okay to me, but it’s hard to put into words why that is. All my reasons feel very loaded to me, loaded with my own embedded attitudes about sex and bodies, which I know aren’t founding in anything except good ol’ American uptight mass neurosis.
At this point, it’s not nutrition he’s getting, it’s bonding and closeness. My gut feeling is that an 8-year-old should be learning how to bond and be intimate in ways that don’t require breastfeeding from Mom. At this age kids have their own ideas about bodily privacy, too, and isn’t part of that also respecting the privacy of mom’s body? But I’m not wholly comfortable with my own argument, because why should breasts be “private” if they are regarded for their functional purpose, instead of sexual objects? At what point do we tell our kids to STOP thinking of them one way and START thinking of them as sexual playthings? Maybe that shouldn’t EVER happen. I don’t know. I know how I want my son to think about breasts.
I do take great offense at laypeople who are quick to call this “sick” or “wacko” and to make pronouncements about the psychological health of child or mother. I mean, jesus, you’d think people had spent their lives studying child development the way they expound. Shut UP already. Opinion is fine; don’t try to sound like Freud, especially when you don’t know the parties involved.
Sorry, I meant to address this in my last post. I can’t speak for this mom, but generally speaking pumping isn’t an easy solution. Breasts respond better to human sucking; some women, in fact, can express very little milk via pumping. Also, from a convenience standpoint the pump has to be taken apart and thoroughly washed after each use. Boy did I ever get sick of THAT process.
Cranky - But it’s not just an American thing. Or European. Most cultures wean their children at 3-4 years old, I think. Part of that may be because other children have come along and need the nutrition, but I believe part of it is that a child needs less closeness and needs to start moving towards adulthood (even in small strides at the age of 4). There is a progression to maturity, and I think that suckling at the age of 8 is doing the child a dis-service. And now that this is international news, I can almost be sure that the boy will be treased and picked on by his peers.
I can’t help but think that it would have an impact on the kid’s relations with women later in life. I can’t speak for the kid, but I knew what sex was and showed an interest in the opposite sex at that age. Its just too creepy.
There’s a thread on this subject in one of the other forums too - GD perhaps? I’ve said some of this there already.
IMHO, there are few ways in which this is a good thing, and many ways in which it’s bad. Good things: bonding, closeness. Bad things: over-reliance on breasts as comfort objects, embarrassment at school, not being taught self-control, possibly future problems with women because he is old enough now to see breasts as sex objects. The mother says she doesn’t want to wean him will he’s ready, but giving a child so much control is not good parenting (though she may well be a fine parent in other ways for all I know). At his age, he has no need for the special nutrients in breast milk, and as someone else pointed out, it’s highly unlikely she’s producing any anyway.
Oh, and it is absolutely NOT common for women to breastfeed till the age of ten. In African countries where long-term breastfeeding is common, the usual age to stop is between 2 and 4.
All that said, however, it’s definitely not so bad that the child should be taken away from his mother. It is understandable that the authorities would investigate the mother after the five-year-old boy said that his Mommy made him breastfeed, but to keep him in foster care even after they’d established no abuse was occurring, is uneccessarily cruel.
I think 8 is too damn old for breastfeeding. IMO 2-4 is too old. I’d be afraid of the psychological damage that’s going to follow that kid for the rest of his life. I can remember being 8 years old… I was drinking my milk straight out of the carton at that age. I sure as hell didn’t want to be sucking on my mom’s breast that’s why I find it hard to believe he’s doing it voluntarily. I don’t think the kid should be taken away from her but she needs to stop letting him suck on her. Where’s the father at anyway and I wonder what he has to say about it.
Pretty soon, he’s going to start going through puberty. THAT is going to open up a whole load of worm cans!!!
Not to mention, it almost seems like a smothering issue-he’s the ultimate Mama’s Boy. She’s not letting him grow up, and move on.
Age appropriateness, here, peeps.
Like someone mentioned the diaper issue. Let’s say he still wore diapers-even if he didn’t USE them for their intended purpose. If he still used the toilet every time, and just used diapers for underwear.
That would be inappropriate. And so is this.
How is he going to cope when Mommy stops giving him the breast? Or how is SHE going to cope if he wants to stop?
There has to be more going on here-and I don’t mean sexual. I mean there are some major attachment issues here.
IANAP, but… I think this is veering dangerously close to an incest/child molestation issue. I extremely doubt she’s producing milk, and think it’s likely that she’s encouraging infantilism in a boy who’s old enough to get the giggles over a smuggled Playboy centerfold.
No, you’re right about that. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. I meant that it’s an American thing to view breasts as so sexual and breastfeeding as something that is for babies only (as opposed to toddlers). I mean, in the U.S. we still hear of moms getting dirty looks for breastfeeding, or being asked to go to a bathroom if they’re (god forbid) going to have a bit of their dirty pillows exposed while the baby is suckling.
I think our attitude about breastfeeding in general is backwards and we have a very juvenile attitude about frontal nudity and breasts in general. Which can’t help but color our attitudes about this, even if we all agree that eight just seems awfully old (by any cultural standard).
Incidentally, it’s been hard for scientists to determine when humans should wean if there were no cultural factors involved. If you look to other mammals, you can use any number of different developmental signposts (growth of molars, for example). But even then the range seems to be 12 months (that’s the molar standard, IIRC) to 4-5 years (using other benchmarks). I haven’t seen a scholarly opinion yet that suggested anything beyond five is what nature intended.