|This image is a screenshot from the iview footage|
of the show - hence the crap quality.
I am by no measurement a laisse faire or permissive parent, despite breastfeeding my children beyond 12 months of age and cosleeping with three of them, at least, into their third year. In fact, I used to be an authoritarian parent. These days I hope I'm more authoritative than authoritarian. However, there have been occasions where one of my boys has been overought or 'losing the plot', and even lashing out at other children, and I have taken him onto my lap and breastfed him. This is not a reward for his unsocial behaviour, but rather a mechanism by which to calm him so he can focus when I explain to him why it is absolutely not okay to threaten or hurt another person.
Oddly enough, some of the reactions I read to the first screening of 'The Slap' included such sentiments as, 'That kid didn't need a slap, he needed a belting!' and 'I would have smacked him into next week!', and 'Slap him, slap him, slap him!'
Yes, the four year old was swinging a cricket bat at the other children because he was not happy that he'd just been bowled out. Yes, he'd wrecked a playstation control. Yes, he had uprooted the flower beds. Evidently - to me at least - there was something going on with this child, that his parents didn't seem aware of. So, the child's needs are not being met and he is acting out because he is four and has no other means of letting the world know he is suffering. So, obviously the solution is to make him suffer a great deal more. Yep, that'll fix him.
Some other sentiments regarding the breastfeeding of a child over 12 months of age were that it was 'sick'. If he could ask for it, he was too old. A two minute old infant knows how to 'ask for it'. I saw footage of a baby in the US a number of years ago who could speak sentences at six months - was she too old to be breastfed? What of children who cannot communicate their needs with language at the age of 12, and they not too old? Arbitrary cut-offs such as the acquisition of language make absolutely no sense.
What people are concerned about is that a child who can speak may be able to speak about what it is like to breastfed. A child who can describe breastfeeding (or anything really) in language, is somehow considered more sentient than a child who cannot. The more sentient the being, the smaller the need for comfort - right? Absolute TWADDLE!
My boys remember breastfeeding. They can talk about, if asked. No one ever asks them. They were not screwed up by it. You can't 'pick' that they were breastfed well into kindergarten age (only my third went to kindergarten, and yes, he was still breastfeeding when he started kinder - I never once breastfed him through the fence).
My boys are well adjusted. They don't grope women's breasts (mine or anyone else's). They don't ask for a breastfeed when they are upset. They don't have oral fixations of any kind. They aren't jealous of the Grumpy Old Man hugging or kissing me (that are, in fact, suitably giggly and grossed out like most children their age). They have friends at school. They are emotionally stable. My eldest does suffer with anxiety - as do I, and I was not breastfed. They aren't fixated on breasts in any way. Last time I counted they all still only had one head. They're normal 12, 10 and 6 year old boys - indistinguishable from their peers.
I didn't breastfeed them until they were 4.5 because I needed that relationship with them, or because I enjoy the sensation of breastfeeding - let it be known I actually had to distract myself from the sensation because it put my teeth on edge (imagining it still does). I breastfed that long because I knew it boosted their immune system and also met an emotional need in them at the same time. If anything, I feel I probably shortchanged Ari by not encouraging him to breastfeed longer, but if I'm honest, after virtually 12 continuous years of breastfeeding (excluding 4 months in 2001, when I was pregnant and Erik weaned temporarily) I was beginning to react negatively to requests for a feed and felt it was negatively impacting our emotional bond - which was not in his or my best interest.
So, there you have it, the perspective of a mother of who breastfed her children until well past the age they could ask for it, and describe it! The perspective of someone whose older breastfed children have not developed serious psychological conditions from having been breastfed to the age of four and a half. Whose older children are perfectly normal and well adjusted.