About The Time Magazine Attachment Parenting Cover

May 10, 2012 / 10:41 am • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier

Time Magazine wants you to pay attention to their provocative picture. Why? What are they trying to say?

When looking at imagery, it sometimes takes a bit to get what the photographer/editor is trying to say. Here are some thoughts in no particular order.

1. Context: The image of a three year old boy sucking on his mom’s breast is being put on the cover of the Time magazine for Mother’s Day weekend.

2. Implication: Mothers are crazy.

3. Implication: Breastfeeding is crazy.

4. Implication: Attachment parenting is oedipal. (Look it up.)

5. Implication: Breastfeeding is sexual. The mother’s smug expression indicates that she’s enjoying the interaction just a little too much.

6. Time is desperate for attention and will get it. [Is getting it, obviously.] Also, I suspect the editor/writer watches Game of Thrones.

Bottom line, Time is pushing forward the idea that mothering is often, if not always, overdone. That too much emphasis is put on mothering. Attachment parenting is weird, sexual, and even abusive.

Mothering, in short, is being demonized as too powerful, crazy, and scary and that it’s abusive to children–nigh unto sex abuse.

The cover is a play on the Madonna imagery of Mary with the Christ child. It takes that image of selfless love and motherly devotion and turns it inside out into something selfish, narcissistic, and sexual.

As a mom who breastfed all her kids and beyond time when many are comfortable with — 18 months, 2 years, and 2 1/2 years consecutively — this cover is patently offensive.

Women who actually care about mothering are seen as crazy, wrongly-focused and weird. So, the solution is to conflate all moms with the admittedly extreme moms who go overboard.

But who is going to draw that line?

As Mika of Morning Joe noted, the Time article isn’t even about breast feeding — it’s about Dr. Bill Sears.

The picture is a picture of desperation. It is attention whoring but it’s at the expense of children, mothers, healthy breastfeeding, and the bond between mom and child.

  • Anonymous

    Best commentary on this yet Melissa. Agree totally.

  • I also saw that headline as being a double insult.  One: you’re not Mom enough to handle “attachment parenting” if you don’t breastfeed for 3+ years, and/or Two: look at that craycray mother – ugh, who DOES that, see I’m going to be normal and work all the time…. that sort of thing. 

  • Well said.  I see this battle played out on so many online mothering boards and it is sad.  My experience has been that those that are “choicers” are usually the least tolerant or supportive of other women’s mothering practices.  I too nursed for as long as possible and, at the time, I didn’t know I was doing lots of things found in the “attachment parenting” movement. I just thought I was mothering and, when necessary, I adjusted my style to fit two very different children.  Unfortunately, everything has to be labelled and put in neat little boxes for many.  It seems like only in the US would something like this be put on the cover in this sexualized and warped context. If it was the cover of National Geographic highlighting another countries cultural norm, it would be considered something to accept in the name of multiculturalism!  In cultures outside the US the closeness of the family unit is highly valued – kids sharing rooms/beds, nursing till the “recommended WHO age of 2.” In fact, many of the countries idolized for their healthcare systems for yearlong maternity leave policies are praised by the faux “choicers.”  Why do they think that time with the child is given and valued? Of course people can take anything to the extreme but I have found that nurtured children turn out to be quite independent and well-adjusted.  However, I am always very careful when new moms ask questions and preface my answers with “well, this worked for me” or “have you tried” advice and not judge. Overall, we know mothering is hard work and we second guess ourselves all the time.  Just think if all the mom’s came together and supported one another….what a powerful voice that would be – cue dream sequence waves. The picture is there for all the reasons you describe and is just another arrow in the #waronmoms and #waronwomen in general.

  • Thank you for this post. 

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  • Did anyone even consider the effect on this boy?  This picture is now out there forever.  Should make his middle school/high school years just a little more awkward, something every adolescent boy needs.

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  • Satan hates children and hates when their attachment needs are met.  This is especially so for infants, because if these needs go unmet during a certain window of opportunity during infancy, the child becomes a psychopath.  No conscience.  Then they resist attempts to bond later and don’t develop a sense of right and wrong.  As the grow into teenagers and adults, they can be led of Satan to commit heinous crimes. 
    Anti-love is anti-life. 

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