How long before Extended Breast Feeding Becomes Creepy?
I am a woman and well aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. It can make your baby more healthy, and help you lose a few pounds in the process. But how long of an extension should breastfeeding get? It seems to me there is a line, and some people are willing to push it back as far as it can go, but what are the drawbacks and benefits here?
For a baby who is breast feeding they are getting antibodies, which can last up to six months of age, and that helps a lot when it comes to children and illness. Plus breast feeding means less milk will run down their face into their ears, like formula and bottles can. So it can save you trips to the doctor. It helps bond you to your child and make them feel comforted and close to you, and in the first year of life that bond is vital. It means your child will feel comforted, nurtured, loved, and more stable. All of those are a plus.
But what happens when your child can go to school, and come home to breast feed? Are you actually reversing the stability and independence so you can feel comforted? Who benefits here when your child always comes running back to you for comfort, and is unable to let go of childish things? Are you really doing more harm then good making these children dependent on you, in very important ways? That is not to say it is an attempt by the mother to create their child's dependency, but it is there. Children who carry around a blanket, or toy, or suck their thumb are often told when it is time to give it up, in their own best interest. Yet these mothers maintain that their child will chose when it is best for them to give up breast feeding.
Which brings me to my next point. How healthy can it be for a child to continue to see their mothers breast as a food source? What demands will be passed on to their children's potential mate? There may be a possibility of developing a fetish based upon an early need. One that takes on some bigger characteristics. Instead of seeing breasts as sexual there is the possibility that young males may see them as only for nursing, or for them to nurse on. While females may develop the need to nurse their children, or be nursed on by their spouse. None of which is harmful as long as it is maintained in healthy parameters. But one can only speculate about how this could easily go wrong.
It also allows your child to become the target of bullying at school, since this is different from what many children are doing. Which might make your child more insecure, creating the need to run back to mommies breast. I want to have respect for these women, because it has to be hard. Continuing to breast feed long after the average age of discontinuing must be hard on the body as well as mind, when people are judging you. Not every societal norm is justified, but this one might be.
It is not natural to nurse a child once they are independent and nature shows that. Mothers in the wild give their offspring full love and care for a time, and when the time comes for nurturing to stop so that maturity can begin, they deny their offspring the right to nurse further. Primates are a good example of this. This part of the maturation process is necessary so the child can develop their personality independent of the mother. She can move on to care taking the next offspring. Meanwhile the time and care she expended shows in the adaptability of the older offspring.
Human mothers who do this deny their child the right to mature. They don't let the process of becoming independent happen, because the child is still coming to them for one major basic need. While I am no psychologist, I would speculate this can not be the best thing for the child. It seems to influence a personality that is needy and always seeking comfort.
While everyone might have their own opinion of the extended breast feeding mothers. I would ask them if they really know the outcome of their behavior, and are they really doing what is best for the child, or what is best for them?