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Breastfeeding at 8 years old.

(100 Posts)
Jbr Fri 23-Aug-02 15:25:52

A woman in the US has been warned for breastfeeding an 8 year old boy.

Jbr Fri 23-Aug-02 15:26:03

http://www.guardian.co.uk/child/story/0,7369,779347,00.html

Jaybee Fri 23-Aug-02 15:52:20

God - that's sick!! I have an eight year old son and seems to be discovering boobs but in the other way - yes we have just returned from holiday and he seemed to enjoy walking up the beach to locate young ladies topless bathing!!!

Jbr Fri 23-Aug-02 18:16:14

She cannot be producing milk, feeding this infrequently. She "feeds" the boy every 10 days. I seriously think this is all out of order.

sb34 Fri 23-Aug-02 22:08:55

Message withdrawn

maryz Fri 23-Aug-02 22:38:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Eulalia Sat 24-Aug-02 13:03:52

There was a similar article posted on mumsnet about a year ago. It seems a little strong to say the mother is 'abusing' her boy as abuse means non-compliance on the part of the child. I don't udnerstand why it was filmed - yes ridicule is bound to arise out of this. I think breastfeeding should stop when a child is developing sexual awareness. I would have thought this would be about age 8 in a boy.

Just hope my ds doesn't go on that long !!!

Lucy123 Sat 24-Aug-02 13:21:45

Eulalia - "abuse" does not necessarily imply that the child is unwilling and to say it does is possibly dangerous. I've read several reports about peadophiles who describe their "relationships" with children and the children in question may not be unwilling - they may do what they do in return for sweets or whatever.

I must admit this story and the one below about the seven year old makes me cringe. Whatever the overall rights and wrongs, those children will either have to keep it secret at school or will be absolutely ridiculed and I really don't think it's fair on the children. Whatever would Freud say?

SueDonim Sat 24-Aug-02 17:53:47

Isn't it a cultural thing, though? In some countries, esp in times of famine, they go on breastfeeding until children are as old as 7 or 8, and in times past, old people were sometimes breastfed by younger women.

However, it was probably something of a misjudgement to have it recorded for posterity on film!!

Lucy123 Mon 26-Aug-02 13:13:03

Yes you're right SueDonim, it is a cultural thing. But I do think that you have to make concessions to the culture you actually live in (although you don't have to subscribe totally) in order to have well-adjusted children. Also as Jbr says, this woman cannot be producing milk (as she "feeds" every 10 days and her son was taken away because of the breasfeeding for 6 months).

threeangels Mon 26-Aug-02 13:55:03

I think breastfeeding is a wonderful and natural thing but doing it at 8 yrs does make me ill when I think about it.

aloha Mon 26-Aug-02 19:21:24

It totally gives me the creeps. Cultural norms or no cultural norms, in the West I do think this is damn close to child abuse (lots of abusers groom their victims to like and enjoy what they do to them, but it doesn't make it right). Eight is practically adult nowadays! I think it's very, very unhealthy.

Eulalia Mon 26-Aug-02 20:25:18

But can we regard this woman, the child's mother along the same lines as a paedophile? I do think the term abuse is a little strong. However the story contains very little information such as if the boy is willing. I would have thought this would be an extremely important point. Is she bribing/blackmailing him to breastfeed? What sort of home do they have? What is the father like? Why is she allowing others to know about the breastfeeding?

Yes some societies do feed for this long but we also know that breastfeeding is a great comforter. I can't imagine feeding an 8 year old myself but if the child does want to then can we say this is wrong? If we think it is wrong is it because we view breasts as sexual objects. I think there are a lot of questions to ask here.

ks Mon 26-Aug-02 20:39:33

Message withdrawn

aloha Mon 26-Aug-02 21:33:36

OK, maybe child abuse was too strong. It's just that I suspect this is entirely for her benefit, not his, and that has to be very unhealthy. I personally can't imagine b/feeding a child into the talking walking stage, but eight is very, very different to five. And I think something has gone awry within the mother-child bond.

ScummyMummy Mon 26-Aug-02 22:00:42

I think this is a difficult one. But essentially I think that with breastfeeding, as with many things, it's very important to take the lead from your child, as long as their wishes are developmentally appropriate. And I find it difficult to believe- though certainly not impossible- that this particular woman is really doing that, because IME most 8 year olds ARE past the breastfeeding stage and, as Jaybee said, may even be looking at breasts in a completely different light! Basically my experience- personal and from friends of mine- is that many children over a year or two are ready to move away from the breast as a MAIN source of comfort and nutrition though some will take several months or years to fully wean and I think that is fine. I've got friends with kids who absolutely refused the breast at 10 months (the mum was devastated having wished to feed her till at least 2 yrs) and others with kids still going strong at well past 3 years. But personally, I'd be quite worried about the emotional development of my child if he still wanted to breastfeed at 8 years old. I'd be asking myself why other forms of comfort and closeness- cuddling, talking etc- were not doing the trick for him.
I think there may be a slight tendency for a very few women to become really fixated on breastfeeding as almost the sole means of comforting, bonding with and communicating with their child (I say child deliberately here; for a very small baby this may be a valid approach) and I don't think that is very healthy. It seems almost a form of emotional neglect not have a wide range of responses and activities to draw on when children need parental affection, attention or comfort. However, I hope this thought will not offend people like ks, Eulalia, malmomum and Faith, who I know to be very long term breast feeders, because I think it is very clear from their posts that such IS NOT THE CASE with them. While breastfeeding is clearly something that they and their children enjoy, it is certainly not their sole or even main means of communication and closeness and, crucially, they are/were following their child’s developmentally appropriate wishes.

aloha Mon 26-Aug-02 22:31:22

Yes, I didn't mean to offend anyone on this site. I have never read a post here that made my think 'uh-oh' like this story did.

mears Tue 27-Aug-02 09:32:54

I think this is too strange for words. I think if the boy was fed every day it would sit better with me. The fact that it is every 10 days makes me feel that this mother is acting inappropriately. I don't think it can be classed as abuse but, as there is no mention of other children, is it something the mother is continuing for her own needs? Is she an attention seeker being filmed for TV when she had already had her son taken away for the same thing? Would you highlight nationally to social services you were still doing it? I am sorry but she does not sound like the 'sharpest tool in the box'.

Jbr Wed 28-Aug-02 15:26:00

Well, if she doesn't stop, she could get prosecuted.

zebra Wed 28-Aug-02 16:27:58

Yeah... but it's hard to tell if this lady is bright enough to be bothered by prosecution.

I come down on the side of thinking she's mentally disturbed. She doesn't have a proper idea of presonal boundaries. It's going to mess up her kid's head to look back on those memories at that late an age. He's not old enough to understand the whole situation, yet, but when he does, it will bother him.

susanmt Wed 28-Aug-02 21:28:23

I just read this article as someone emailed it to me.
Sounds as if the mother is (1) not bright and (2) looking for attention in some way.

Reading your responses I wondered : would you feel differently about it if she was feeding a girl? Just wondered. I would find it equally weird, but wondered what others think.

Faith Wed 28-Aug-02 21:55:05

Haven't read the article, but it does sound odd....even to someone who bf for years! (4 and 3 months...but less and less frequently towards the end. I read another article somewhere recently about children who fondle their mothers breasts for comfort. It made the point that this is not sexual, although often perceived as such by onlookers. It cited the example of a boy who was bf, but then whos father became primary carer... the little boy would stroke his fathers chest for comfort, subconciously remembering his bf experience. In this case one does wonder just whose needs are being fulfilled. I think one of my dd's would love to still be bf, and she does occasionally 'remininsce' hopefully! she recently said bf had made her 'feel safe'. I think an 8 year old should have alternative ways of being reassured, but I don't know the situation. Does he have a learning disability? What is their cultural background?

ks Wed 28-Aug-02 23:00:04

Message withdrawn

Willow2 Wed 28-Aug-02 23:10:23

Agree totally with Aloha - this has got to be for the woman's benefit, I don't see how it can be good for the long term development of the child.

bloss Thu 29-Aug-02 04:09:59

Message withdrawn

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