You Asked. They Answered. TIME’s AP moms take your questions.

May 24, 2012. Posted in: Blog Posts

For their May 21 cover story about Dr. Bill Sears and attachment parenting (AP), TIME Magazine took many photographs of four mothers and their children: Jamie Lynne Grumet of Los Angeles, Dionna Ford of Kansas City, Jessica Cary of Brooklyn, and Melinda Larson of Long Island. A photo of Jamie and her son was picked for the cover photo, and all of the moms were interviewed for an online article (though little of the material was actually used). The moms who were photographed asked KellyMom for a chance to bust some of the misconceptions about the TIME article. Since any of these moms could have ended up as the cover model, we’re thrilled to include all of them in our Q&A session.

The magazine article, the headline “Are You Mom Enough,” and the publicity surrounding the image of Jamie nursing her 3 year old son have sparked an international conversation about both breastfeeding and attachment parenting, with lots of negative press. I was disappointed to see so many people in the press and elsewhere defining AP as something quite different than how most of us see it. After incorrectly defining it, they go on to criticize a straw man version of attachment parenting that doesn’t even exist. For instance, I don’t know any attachment parent who feels you “must co-sleep and wear your baby in a sling from morn till night and breast-feed for years and never, ever let your baby cry.”

We asked readers of the KellyMom Facebook page what questions they would like to ask these moms. Following are their questions (many are amalgamations of several questions) and the responses from Jessica, Jamie, Melinda, and Dionna.

 

First of all, Jamie, what misconceptions about the TIME cover picture featuring you and your son would you like to correct?

TIME magazine cover, May 21, 2012 (TIME).

Why did I (we) pick that shot for the cover? People assume I had creative control over the cover, which I did not. TIME chose the photo and the headline.

Was I paid? Not a penny.

Why did I let them pose me like that? I didn’t. I have no problem being in a standing position, but the image they captured does not represent the vision and direction of the shoot (which was to convey confidence and contentment). A lot of people don’t realize that many photographs are taken while moving around between positions. The picture TIME chose for the cover was one of these outtakes.

During the shoot we grabbed a stool and got the shot that is seen in Lightbox (the one that represents better what happened in that room). My son had fallen asleep nursing at my breast in that shot. (The shoot was short but it was his nap time when we got there). The shot is lovely and it was actually this or a very similar photo that was going to be the cover image. The shot TIME eventually chose was confirmed as the cover photo shortly before release.

I think the more nurturing shot still would have provoked the same uneducated and ignorant comments we have been hearing. However, a better tagline with a better picture (one that didn’t reinforce breastfeeding myths) might have been more embraced by the AP community.

1.    How did TIME find and choose you?

Jessica and family. Used with permission.

Jessica ____________________
An employee of the photographer TIME hired is a nursing mom who attends a local breastfeeding support group run by one of my friends. This mom reached out to the group, looking for a breastfeeding mom/child (3-5 years old) for a TIME magazine article on “evolving parenthood.” My friend forwarded that email to a small group of moms with older nurslings and I was on that list. I sent in a few pictures the next morning. Six hours later (Friday afternoon) I heard from an Associate Photo Editor at TIME who said they were interested in us participating in the shoot that was going to happen on Sunday. We were in!

Jamie ____________________
TIME contacted me by email with their phone number asking if I would be interested in participating in a photo shoot for a story they were doing on attachment parenting. I then found out the story was going to be about Dr. Bill Sears. It sounded like a celebratory story because it was the 20th anniversary of his first book release. The author from TIME spoke about being immersed in the topic, and appeared to have a lot of respect for Dr. Sears.

Melinda and family. Used with permission.

Melinda ____________________
It really was a serendipitous type of a thing.  A friend of a friend knew about the photo shoot in NY and thought that they would be interested in our family.  I received a call from the photo editor on Friday and was at a photo shoot on Sunday.

Dionna ____________________
Time contacted me via email. TIME’s photo editor (Neil Harris) had emailed various bloggers in the attachment parenting/natural family living niche. The email specifically asked for families that were “big proponents of attachment parenting, had one toddler, and preferably had two or more children.” I called to refer several other bloggers I know who volunteer with NaturalParentsNetwork.com; but after Neil and I chatted for awhile, he asked me if my family would like to participate.

 

Continue to Part 2 >>>>

…or Jump to a question:

  1. How did TIME find and choose you?
  2. What were you hoping to achieve by being a part of this and do you feel that you were successful in achieving your goals?
  3. What messages about attachment parenting and/or breastfeeding were you hoping TIME would convey in their article?
  4. What kind of reaction to the article were you expecting? How has reality compared to what you thought you could expect?
  5. How do you feel about AP being portrayed as extreme? (TIME is not the only media outlet to do this)
  6. What area(s) of AP have you struggled with and how were you able to resolve your issue(s)?
  7. Why do you think so many women think this article is calling them a bad mom?
  8.  What advice do any of you have for moms who feel caught up in the “Mommy Wars”?
  9. How did you feel about the way extended breastfeeding was portrayed on the cover of TIME?
  10. How would you respond to people who believe that your child(ren) will be negatively impacted by the current conversation or face bullying in the future related to their presence in the photos showing breastfeeding?
  11. What would you say to a new mother to help normalize sustained breastfeeding for her and possibly help her envision that for herself and her family? How would your message change for a mother who is coming up on a year of breastfeeding?
  12. How does your partner participate in attachment parenting your child(ren)?
  13. Do you believe that attachment parenting could cause America to take a step backward in the fight for women’s rights?
  14. What has been the best thing to come out of the TIME story about Dr. Sears? What has been the hardest thing?
  15. What advice would you share with a friend if they came to you and were considering becoming involved with a major media outlet for a story related to breastfeeding or attachment parenting?
  16. Do you think the TIME article/cover helped or hurt (or both) the effort to educate about AP?

 …or  Read the Entire Article on one page.

____________________________

I would like to thank everyone – Jessica, Jamie, Melinda, and Dionna – for responding to our questions. The TIME article has raised both awareness and controversy, and it might be some time before the dust settles. We applaud your efforts to advocate for breastfeeding and attachment parenting, and are proud of you for taking the negative publicity and leveraging it into something positive.

 

Carol_is_milkmonkeezmom May 24, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hi All! It’s Carol (milkmonkeezmom) from the forum. 

First, Can I just share that these women blew me away with their responses to our questions and their grace throughout the firestorm that accompanied the TIME article. Each and every mom inspired me to be even more open about the way I parent and my breastfeeding experiences.

Second, I’m in here helping Kelly keep an eye on comments. If your comment doesn’t post right away – be patient. We’re going to be fiddling with the level of moderation comments get depending on how the comment conversation goes. We’re very much hoping to be able to take a very hands off approach but will turn on comment moderation if it becomes necessary.

Mae May 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

 I already posted this comment on your FB page but would post it again here. hehe.. 
love love love the article! i also practice AP and the thing that gave me an “uh-oh” moment is not really the TIME cover per se but the tagline, “are you mom enough?”. Ultimately, all moms, those who practice or do not practice AP, are all mom enough to carry, give birth, nourish and raise the children they have. The title itself is a very strong statement that kinda judge not only moms who practice AP but those who don’t as well. I have a dear friend who wanted so much to BF her baby but wasn’t able to bec they discovered she had breast cancer within 3 months of giving birth. She had masectomy in short. But did that diminished her ability to become “mom enough” and practice AP? Hell no! She’s one of the bravest, toughest and most loving moms I have ever met. So yes, she IS mom enough to conquer all of her issues with her body and motherhood. And its sad when a respectable publication would make such a big statement just so people would talk about their latest issue. Being “mom” is not judged by the way we parent our kids, bec as unique our kids are, so are we the parents. AP is one of the most beautiful types of parenting and I am sure other techniques are too but people should also understand and respect that the kind of of parenting each family decides to do is ultimately what’s best for THEIR family. To each is his own and everybody should start seeing the beauty of each style and must learn to embrace and respect each other.

Mae May 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

 I already posted this comment on your FB page but would post it again here. hehe.. 
love love love the article! i also practice AP and the thing that gave me an “uh-oh” moment is not really the TIME cover per se but the tagline, “are you mom enough?”. Ultimately, all moms, those who practice or do not practice AP, are all mom enough to carry, give birth, nourish and raise the children they have. The title itself is a very strong statement that kinda judge not only moms who practice AP but those who don’t as well. I have a dear friend who wanted so much to BF her baby but wasn’t able to bec they discovered she had breast cancer within 3 months of giving birth. She had masectomy in short. But did that diminished her ability to become “mom enough” and practice AP? Hell no! She’s one of the bravest, toughest and most loving moms I have ever met. So yes, she IS mom enough to conquer all of her issues with her body and motherhood. And its sad when a respectable publication would make such a big statement just so people would talk about their latest issue. Being “mom” is not judged by the way we parent our kids, bec as unique our kids are, so are we the parents. AP is one of the most beautiful types of parenting and I am sure other techniques are too but people should also understand and respect that the kind of of parenting each family decides to do is ultimately what’s best for THEIR family. To each is his own and everybody should start seeing the beauty of each style and must learn to embrace and respect each other.

Ruth Mitchell May 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Good morning, I have the privilege of being Dionna’s proud Mom ,MIL to Terrific Tom  and the love filled Grandma of sweet Kieran and Ailia!!! I am so pleased that Dionna has had the chance to be one of the faces of attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding!! She and Tom have put so much love, study and thought into the deliberate choices that they have made for parenting their children. Their family is full of love and joy and I am just glad that I get to be a willing participant in it!!!

Shannoncolleary May 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Bravo.  Time should publish this.

Laura McMeeking May 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I’ve never posted here before, but I felt the need to say a huge THANK YOU to the mom’s who participated in the TIME article. Even though I was pretty angry about the cover and the way AP was portrayed, I think it was courageous and timely for these mom’s to share AP with the US. I have taken some of the ideas of AP and run with them, and others just don’t work for us. But I LOVE how the mom’s here are so nurturing, not just of their children but of the entire community of parents. Instead of fostering the divisiveness the title of the article unfortunately portrayed, these mom’s show that being a mom is wonderful and very very personal! There isn’t one perfect way to parent, and I very much appreciate the candid answers here in this question/answer session! Again, THANK YOU for your courage in exposing your families to such a public forum, and thank you for being such public figures in the normalizing of breastfeeding and AP!!

AmyM99 May 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I am still nursing my daughter at 28 months.   Last week we were outside in the yard and she asked to nurse.  My neighbor said, “you’re too old for that…”  My response was, I’m just like the mom on the Time Magazine cover; We still nurse.  That stopped the neighbor in her tracks!  Thanks to these moms for being willing to share with the public their experiences.  It’s given me a chance to be more open about nursing a toddler.

Jenny May 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Thanks for this comprehensive interview.  It was a pleasure to read what the real heroes had to say.

Olive's Dada May 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Tremendous!  All of the moms’ responses are so thoughtful, dignified, and genuine…way to go ladies!!! And Daddys!
Jessica’s hubby Steve

mommaofbreastfedbabiesx3 May 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I am in awe of the the way that these women have composed themselves throughout the ridiculous controversy that Time caused by sensationalizing something so natural and beautiful. AP is a GREAT way to parent. It is calm, loving, caring, emotionally in-tune with the child, and the way that they feel. It is being loving and kind when its needed, and responding to your children’s needs and emotions when there is something wrong. For some to think attachment parenting inst natural, they obviously have been raised in the United States in our overindulgent society that believes that babies should go by our timelines as adults, and gosh forbid if a baby doesn’t sleep through the night after the first month. I think any mother who has breastfed their co-sleeping infant to sleep, and saw how easily they melt into you KNOWS attachment parenting is the most natural and caring way of parenting. I would never turn back into a cry it out mama if my life depended on it. Bravo all the mamas in Time for never swaying in their beliefs! Much love to all of you! 

Chante May 25, 2012 at 4:17 am

Thanks so much for this interview! 

Nancymellow May 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I don’t think people have the right, although, this is our Wonderful America, to criticize these families. Are people jealous that these kids who are being nurtured on a more personal basis, may just do better in life, be healthier, are more content now, will learn better for a longer period of time? We are so used to listening to doctors as if we don’t have a thought in our brain and shouldn’t possibly go against what society feels is the norm. Look back in history, way, way back.
   Even the moms are much happier people because in turn they are being nurtured by the simple and natural closeness. How many moms and dads push their kids away to, grow up, don’t be a baby, stop your whining, on and on. How many kids to we see tagging along behind, trying to catch up to a mom who’s too busy to nurture, This is America, so let these parents raise their children, their way. Give love a chance. These babies are happier babies too, I know.

Hanabelle August 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Wow so intensely and beautifully said.

Liz May 27, 2012 at 12:58 am

I’m so glad that Kellymom did this interview with the ladies.  I really think what Time Magazine did was wrong and it disrespectful towards the woman that participated in the shoot and also to Dr Sears and just parents in general. “Are You Mom Enough?” Attachment Parenting (or just parenting in general) is not about being mom enough….come on. 

Jessicabonham23 June 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Im probably a week late .. but maybe someone will read this and answer my question. .. It seems frrom what I did read on here that there are a few mothers who breastfeed past 12months. So my question is if you were to feed your child formula and the dr says to stop t 1year then why not stop or wing your breastfed babies.. I know there is nutrients they can have much better than formula but why let them still have the boob? Please help me understand..

kellymom June 17, 2012 at 12:40 am

 Jessica, many moms breastfeed past the first year.

In the US, it is recommended that babies who are not breastfed receive formula for the first 12 months. Formula is often discontinued at 12 months because it is expensive and babies over 12 months can usually digest cow’s milk safely. It doesn’t become less safe or less nutritious than it was – it’s just that the benefits are no longer cost effective to most families.

Breastmilk, on the other hand, does not cost money and continues to be a superior source of nutrition AND immune support AND comfort (among other things) as long as your child breastfeeds. If mom and baby wish to continue breastfeeding there is no reason to stop. More here: http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/ebf-benefits/

Shannon June 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Jessicabonham23 1, To answer your question, I personally continue breastfeeding my daughter although she is older than a year not because of the health benefits (even though they don’t hurt) but because I just simply don’t see it as benificial to force her to wean off of the breast before she is ready. Parent led weaning is stressful for both parent and child. She will wean when she is ready and what better way to promote her sense of independence than letting her have control over the importnant things in her life.

April Knapp July 9, 2012 at 9:12 pm

LOVED the chance to read these women’s thoughts in their own words.  Way to go, ladies!  You’re an inspiration and encouragement to all Moms, not just those choosing AP….to follow our hearts and do what’s best for our children.

Ladida October 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Hi All! Kellymom, I just wanted to tell you that I love your site. I visit it often. I wanted to address something you said.

“For instance, I don’t know any attachment parent who feels you “must co-sleep and wear your baby in a sling from morn till night and breast-feed for years and never, ever let your baby cry.””

There are entire cultures in the U.S. who practice this kind of parenting. I didn’t realize it was called attachment parenting until recently, that was just how I was raised. I didn’t raise my oldest son this way, because I was only 16 when I had him and I didn’t have the support to do it. I often feel he is a sweet, loving, and mostly happy boy, but not very confident in himself or those around him; whereas my youngest son, who I’ve tried a modernized version of this parenting with (and probably not full-on because of the Americans who don’t agree with it and ridicule me for it), he is extremely confident and happy and fearless.