As you may have seen in the news recently, there has been rather a lot of controversy surrounding the latest issue of TIME magazine. The article centres around the so –called “guru of attachment parenting”; Dr. Bill Sears. Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by Dr Sears himself, is the practise of following eight principles that helps the parent form a strong emotional bond with their child.

These principles are interpreted in different ways, and there are no set rules. Dr Sears instead encourages parents to be creative and responsive in caring for their child. Most commonly, parents who follow the attachment principles take part in things such as natural childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing with slings and homeschooling.

While an article like this is a fantastic way of explaining to parents or hopeful parents about many of the potential benefits of attachment parenting (This very blog has already looked at the mental and physical benefits of babywearing, as well as breastfeeding), TIME has received a lot of criticism for it.

This is due to the picture that they have on the front cover. It shows a 26 year-old mother; Jamie Lynne Gruet stood up, with her son suckling from her breast. Her son, however, is stood on a chair and is aged nearly four. As mentioned previously, it is being argued that this picture is exploitative and does the image of breastfeeding and attachment parenting more harm than good.

On one hand, there is no guidance on when breastfeeding should be stopped. The World Health Organisation states that children should be breastfed up to the age of two “or beyond”. Many, many parents have continued to breastfeed up until the age of five or even six, and have said that they saw a whole host of benefits to both their child’s health and the child-parent relationship. Also, the editor of TIME went on to say that he chose the picture to deliberately raise discussion and it has certainly succeeded in that. After all, it could be argued that a lot of the negativity towards the image stems from Western society’s “squeamishness” and discomfort over seeing women breastfeeding their children. The mother herself even said that “the more people see it, the more normal it’ll become in our culture”.

On the other hand, the fact that the mother is so attractive and the age of the child has led to many commentators, bloggers and writers calling the piece exploitative. This is also due to the fact that the article is more about Dr Spears, rather than the mothers who practise attachment parenting. A lot of people have said that the cover picture is “too extreme” and that it was just a cheap shot to attract more readers. One writer argued: “The cover doesn't celebrate the practice. It exploits it.”, and a commenter on Mumsnet said that it just panders to the image of “freaky weirdo” in regards to parents breastfeeding older children. Finally, there has also been a lot said about how the child may feel about the picture in later years and how he may become a target for bullies due to it.

What do you all think of the article, and the many issues that it raises? When do you think that it’s right to stop breastfeeding and do you practice attachment parenting? All this week we’ll be running a poll on our Facebook page, to see whether you think it was right for TIME to use that image on their cover. You can also join in with the discussion over on Twitter, just put @daisybabyshop into your tweets, or leave a comment below.

Post By Marc