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?