Next week, I will begin co-teaching an 8th grade world religion/social justice class. As part of my preparation, I have been reading a series of books recommended by the program Heed the Call. One of the books I’m reading is called Nurturing Children and Youth by Tracey L. Hurd. The first chapter opens with “The Infant and Young Toddler – Newborn through Age Two” and discussing the physical development of children. Naturally, I’m thinking about this topic and every way possible that society is messing it up.
According to the book, an infant triples his bodyweight in the first year of his life. His brain grows from 1/4 of its adult size to 3/4 of its adult size. Yes, he will grow half of his brain by his first birthday. HALF. I didn’t even have to continue reading to have a mental digression on these facts. I mean, HALF!?
Remember when Time Magazine published this controversial cover? People didn’t like it. Why? Because: 1. It was “racy”, and 2. “Who breastfeeds her grown-up child?? What a bad mother!” Well, I have a slew of problems with those reactions.
To counter the first, how many times are women these days arguing for their freedom of dress? I see all these articles now about women believing they shouldn’t be sexualized because of how they dress, that they should be allowed to do how they please and not worry about a man’s reaction to their choices. Yet there are men – and women – alike who look down on public breastfeeding. They see it as nudity. “Go do that in the bathroom,” they say. (At my university, we have a special room in the bathrooms in one hall that is a “lactation station”.) I think that’s ridiculous because, not only is it hypocritical, but breastfeeding is such a fundamental part of a child’s development as well as his relationship to his mother. It’s natural. Furthermore, if babies have to eat in the bathroom, then lunch should be served there for everyone.
To counter the second reaction, I think it’s quite ironic to label the mother on the cover as being a bad example. In fact, she’s an excellent example. Naturally, children are supposed to grow out of their ability to digest lactose. This usually happens when they’re young children, not toddlers. I, too, went through this phase. Why does this happen? Well, because we’re not supposed to consume dairy products beyond our development. I mean, you want to talk about weird? It’s weird that humans drink cow milk! Think about it. It’s for calves!! What are we, five?? Not only does this excess dairy lead to health complications and not actually help with osteoporosis (it’s a marketing strategy, thanks government), it’s just not sustainable. So while we have adults drinking cow milk, they’re also turning their noses up at children drinking human milk. And why do Asians/Natives and some others phase so slowly out of lactose tolerance? Because it’s natural to keep drinking mom’s milk so you can continue developing. Yes, mothers can produce milk for many years after birth.
Why did this all come to my mind? There are so many women these days using baby formula. I think that’s horrible!! If you’re going to be a mother, be a mother, damnit. These aren’t machine babies. You didn’t grow it in a petri dish. It’s a HUMAN, made from HUMAN, meant to consume HUMAN. I’m sure some day machine babies drinking machine milk will exist when the world has really lost all hope, but, for now, let’s be real, please. NOTHING replaces human product just like NOTHING replaces human touch, love, and childrearing. Pop culture needs to wake up and realize it is what’s messed up.
In addition to breastfeeding, studies have been done that mouth-to-mouth feeding is also a natural practice. That probably freaks a lot of people out, but after watching a video on the Youtube channel Vsauce, I realized how fascinating “premastication” is. Although a lot of people seemed up in arms when actress Alicia Silverstone posted a video of kiss-feeding her son (some folks said it was like she was “making out” with her son), I feel like any fan of the Paleo diet can understand peoples’ interest in reverting to more natural habits. Did you know, they thinking kissing came from this method of weaning?
So before you go bashing breastfeeding in public, into childhood, or as a method period – and before you get grossed out by kiss-feeding – consider how much grosser the general American populace’s habits are. I mean, do you even know what’s in the food you’re eating? What are you seriously putting in your body? You don’t know the chemicals, the genetic origins, the implications on your own body. You could be literally eating your way to cancer if you don’t handle all your own food and instead rely on other people to supply it to grocery stores and in restaurants. Why do we pretend so much that we can manipulate things we naturally put into our bodies? Why do we think artificial replacements are going to be a cheaper solution to a just-as-healthy lifestyle? What makes us think that baby formula can honestly replace breast-milk when a baby will use that formula to CREATE ITS BRAIN? (Sure, there are some cases when formula might be necessary, but that’s rare.)
I just see so much hypocrisy in the mainstream culture regarding food and raising children. I feel like it’s cool now to just skimp out on everything. So tell me, why are people even parents these days? Why?