Should TIME Have Featured A Mother Breastfeeding On Its Cover?

time magazine cover breastfeeding

The cover of the latest issue of TIME magazine horrified not only many people in our office, but pretty much the entire Internet, already causing some cringe-worthy memes to be created. It shows a three-year-old boy sucking on his attractive, model-like mother's breast while standing on a chair — and looking quite happy doing it. The cover illustrates an article about the origins of "attachment parenting," which follows the three tenets of extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping and "baby wearing," in which infants are physically attached to their parents by slings.

As TIME explained in its "Behind The Cover" feature, the subjects of the cover aren't models. Jamie Lynne Grumet is an L.A. mom who subscribes to attachment parenting, shot here by photographer Martin Schoeller with her three-year-old son. The practice and philosophy of attachment parenting has been on the rise over the last two decades, since the publication of The Baby Book in 1992 by Dr. Bill Sears and his wife, Martha.

Schoeller, who in one day photographed four families from across the country that practice this type of parenting, said: "When you think of breast-feeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids. I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation."

Maybe that was a purely artistic choice for Schoeller, but some are worried about the implications of this cover for the little boy pictured, especially his future relationships. "I worry about that boy being bullied in school," said Rachel Kleinman, YourTango's Experts Editor. "It's one thing for the mom — an adult — to do a controversial magazine cover or interview; it's quite another to put her minor child in the middle of things before he has the capacity to consent."

Senior Editor Genevieve Lill is more on the fence about the controversial cover. "I don't think you really know what you'll be inspired to do (or not do) until you actually have a kid," she said. "I have a married friend who's actively about to start 'trying' for a baby with her husband, but watching me use my breast pump absolutely horrified her. She said, 'That is total birth control.' It kind of irks me that there's such a debate about attachment parenting right now because haven't we learned that what works for one mom or one set of parents may not work for another — but that's okay, so long as you are raising happy, healthy kids?"

That's really what it comes down to: There's no right or wrong parenting style, as long as the kids are happy and healthy. But putting a three-year-old child on a national magazine cover in a compromising position is quite a different story.

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