Breastfeeding Realities…

After producing a show like Dance Moms, what’s a reality-television company supposed to do next? A show on women who practice child-led weaning, of course! Collins Avenue, the company that brought Abby Lee and her troupe of dancers to our television sets, is creating a show that looks at mothers who practice extended breastfeeding – that is, they breastfeed their children until the children are done.

To say that I’m apprehensive about just how a show like this could be edited would be an understatement. However, until it airs, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. It’s hard not to be skeptical, though. Anything Attachment Parenting seems to be a hot topic or buzzword these days, prompting articles, talk show segments, and controversial headlines all meant to incite debate and page views. So, excuse me if I’m a little wary over how this show could go.

And even if it’s framed in a way that doesn’t portray extended nursers as abnormal and freakish, what, exactly, will it portray? I mean, what’s there to watch? I think back over two years ago when I was still nursing my son. He breastfed until he turned 3 – well beyond the national average, and even a year beyond the WHO’s recommendation of 2 years. What would an edited show about our breastfeeding relationship have looked like?

To be honest…it would probably have been a little boring, or at the most – looked like any reality show about parenting a toddler. Yes, he might have nursed first thing upon rising, but then he would have gone downstairs, eaten breakfast, and we would have gone about our day, which would have meant school in the morning for him while I worked. Perhaps some playground fun in the afternoon, grocery shopping, a trip to the bank, a few other errands… do you get the picture? Sure, if he fell and scraped his knee, he might have wanted some milk, or if he was tired or cranky, but otherwise? There was nothing remarkable about it in my eyes. There was no big production of “NOW WE ARE GOING TO BREASTFEED MY 3 YEAR OLD!!” At that point, I’m not even sure if we nursed in public so much, or if it was more of a sweet, private moment we shared at home every so often.

Yes, it would be great to have some normalized representation of breastfeeding, and it would be amazing if a show like this actually encouraged folks who were struggling and wanted to continue nursing. However, when the New York Post leads their story on this new reality show with the line “Breastfeeding’s big kids are coming out of the closet,” excuse me if I’m not all that encouraged.

What say you? Are you optimistic that this show will steer clear of mocking and falling back on the “freak factor” in presenting relationships of extended nursing? Or will it ultimately fall into the same trap that many reality shows about parenting succumb to?

11 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Realities…

  1. I think it sounds ridiculously boring unless they push the freak factor, so I can’t help but expect them to. Otherwise it would be just as boring as a show on Moms Who Change Diapers or Moms Who (Insert totally normal part of a parenting day here). Interesting.

    • Apparently the show is actually going to be about “extreme” parenting, and this is just one episode. But still. Way to start the judgment pile by calling it extreme to begin with.

  2. Oh good lord, I feel very, very pessimistic of what this show will accomplish. I mean, it seems to me as if the m.o. of all reality television is to broadcast (often carefully constructed) trainwrecks. And truly, you could edit the hell out of any of our days and turn them into riveting (and exploitative) and controversial (and unfairly spliced together) television.

    But maybe that’s just me. 😉

    On a more serious level, I would hate for this show to reinforce the myth that breastfeeding a child older than one (or even older than a tiny infant) is somehow weird or gross.

  3. I’ve always said that they go straight for the feeding an older child – usually at least 7 – and make mother and child seem weird. If they really wanted to normalise it they’d show a newborn that happened to get older. I remain skeptical about this show but we can only hope.

  4. At the risk of alienating myself, I exclusively bottle feed/fed both my kids. (They are fine, BTW. No signs of unintelligence or sociopathy.) And yet, to my BIL, who not only doesn’t have kids but actively dislikes children and freaks out at the mere thought of “helicopter parenting,” I was called an “attachment parent” — because my 3 1/2-year old still uses a paci.

    So…yeah, there is a lot of misconception out there.

  5. Pessimistic, for sure. There’s like one funny story about me being able to talk while still breastfeeding. Not exactly a TV series’ worth of entertainment. My favorite thing about the fact that my sister breastfeeds her two-year-old is that she can actually talk to me on the phone without being interrupted for longer than 30 seconds. Also not the most entertaining TV, even if I find it pretty exciting to get to hear about her day in full sentences.

  6. Hmmmm…a show on extreme parenting….somehow I imagine that us crazy radical unschoolers will be portrayed on it too! And I can only imagine that they’ll botch that one just about as bad as they do the extended breastfeeding one. 🙂

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