Breastfeeding in front of the olds

Another boob-related topic, this time from Dear Prudence:

Q. Once Again … Breast-feeding: At the many large family gatherings I attend, my niece breast-feeds her 1-year-old multiple times over the course of the afternoon. This is not a newborn who needs feeding every couple of hours so she uses her breast more as a pacifier than anything. To be clear, she does not do this in any modest way, exposing her entire breast to the room each time. This makes my husband and his elderly father (who lives with us) uncomfortable enough that the older gentleman gets up to leave the room each time. Other people in the extended family have commented on it, too. The next event is at my house. I try to make all my guests, but especially those of a certain age, comfortable in my home. It is just a matter of respect. I would like my niece to take her son to an adjoining room that is more private although not behind closed doors when she is with us and feels the need to placate him. I know she will be upset with me, but I feel that she needs to at least be aware that this is making her older extended family uncomfortable as this wasn’t done in their generation. What do you think?

A: At least your niece isn’t also giving a lecture on anthropology, like the American University professor recently in the news for breast-feeding in class. I am pro-lactation. I did it myself for a year, and yes, I occasionally had to breast-feed (discreetly) in public places, and often at my in-laws. When I was at their house, I would almost always go to another room, or sit in a chair facing away from them. They were in favor of breast-feeding, but there was no reason to shove it in their faces. You’re absolutely right that with a 1-year-old there is no compelling need for your niece to make everyone observers of this. When your niece arrives pull her aside and say while you support breast-feeding, you’d appreciate it that when she’s feeding the baby she takes him into your bedroom for some privacy. Explain that the older family members are uncomfortable and it would be easier on them if she was the one to absent herself briefly. Then if in defiance she lets it all hang out, you can all go to another room.

Eh… I support making accommodations for cultural or religious or generational differences/preferences/whatever. And it is the letter-writer’s private home, so she gets to make the call about breastfeeding, and the breastfeeder (or whoever else) needs to accept it. But also? It’s a breast. Get over it. If she’s not self-conscious about her father-in-law seeing her feed her kid (or comfort her kid), he shouldn’t be. And if he is, he can go to another room. Body parts can be both sexual and utilitarian — lips are used for kissing (and other, funner things), but they can also come out in public to comfort a child and no one freaks. Let the lady feed her kid. If the older folks are uncomfortable, have a brief convo and let it be a learning experience, and teach those dogs some new tricks. And if your own husband is uncomfortable with a lady breastfeeding in his presence, maybe that’s an issue worth exploring. But it’s his issue. Not the issue of the lady who is just trying to feed/comfort her kid.

78 comments for “Breastfeeding in front of the olds

  1. roro80
    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    In theory, I agree, but I also think that if the writer wants to set some ground rules in her own home, she should be able to. Being in public — where there should be an expectation of being around people of different backgrounds and ages and habits — is different than being in someone’s private home.

  2. matlun
    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Another breast feeding thread?

    Anyway: Why has she not already discussed this with her niece? There is a glaring lack of any reference to her position in the question, and the LW does not even know if the niece is aware of people being uncomfortable.

    The first thing to fix would seem to be a lack of communication.

    • September 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      I know, we’re All Breastfeeding, All The Time lately. Maybe I’m ovulating or something.

  3. E.
    September 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Yeah yeah yeah more breastfeeding. I’m more interested in the whole face-licking thing.

    • Marksman2010
      September 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Yeah, what’s up with that?

    • DouglasG
      September 20, 2012 at 8:06 am

      The Supportive Shower-Throwing Sister for me.

  4. Millie
    September 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    It’s a breast. Get over it.

    Thank you!

  5. chava
    September 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    If she were wearing “immodest” clothing, would this even be a debate? Let the older men get up and leave the room if they feel offended by the length of her skirt, but don’t ask that she leave the room.

    Anyway, it’s her house, and her rules. If I were her niece, I just wouldn’t come back.

    • Partial Human
      September 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      I’d love to see what this alleged immodesty entails TBH.

      The last time I saw someone kicking off about a “disgusting half naked” BFer, there was about two square inches of exposed flesh. Not to mention that one year olds tend to have pretty big heads, so there’s not much to see.

      The LW’s acting as if her niece is whipping her boobs out and shimmying like a burlesque dancer. Somehow I doubt it. Not to mention that some people will take the horrors at any baby older than six weeks being nursed, and use any excuse or exaggeration to gripe about it and denomise it.

      • Past my expiration date
        September 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        It’s always “whipping out” a boob. Is it possible to “whip out” a boob? How would one do this?

      • Lolagirl
        September 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm

        Yes, it is always whipping out a boob. As though tassels are attached to the nipple and a pole dance is getting underway. Because all breastfeeders are actually semi-closeted nudist exhibitionists just waiting for the first chance to show off their boobages to whoever may happen to be within eyeshot.

        HTH!

      • Partial Human
        September 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

        How would one do this?

        Fabulously! Like some sort of lactic sprinkler system.

      • September 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm

        I don’t know about you, but I personally whip my boob back and forth at least three times a day.

      • Bagelsan
        September 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

        This conversation makes me want to cross my arms. Ow.

  6. chava
    September 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    (this is a bit of a sore spot, having just gotten back from The Olds, where the elderly men got up and left the room every time the baby needed to eat. Let’s be clear, I had often started feeding the kid before they entered the room, but apparently the possibility of the presence of breasts! anywhere! was just. too. much.)

  7. September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Presumably all the men in the family are heterosexual, from the content of the letter?

    Then they’ve a) seen boobs in a sexual context (during funtimes with their wives), b) seen boobs in a non-sexual context (unless their wives left the room every time they breastfed). If they STILL can’t tell the difference, this would be a lovely learning moment!

    That said, if they’re SOOOOOOOO fucking uncomfortable, they can buy one of those breastfeeding blankets and keep it in the house so the niece can use it whenever she visits, without it being a Judgy McJudgyGift(TM) that implies that she shouldn’t be feeding her baby openly anywhere else either.

    • Datdamwuf
      September 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      OK so maybe I crack myself up too easily but the kid is a year old so I had this immediate mental picture of the kid pulling the blanket off and yelling MINE! at the old ones

      • Partial Human
        September 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm

        You’ve cracked me up too, so there’s two of us!

      • September 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        PEEKABOOB BABY

      • September 20, 2012 at 4:44 am

        I got an immediate and entirely involuntary mental image of the blanket being offered to the offended party for him to drape over his own head :-)

      • lisa
        September 28, 2012 at 1:07 am

        yes this is what the blanket should be used for

  8. September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I feel that she needs to at least be aware that this is making her older extended family uncomfortable as this wasn’t done in their generation. What do you think?

    This makes them uncomfortable as this wasn’t done in their generation? Okay, firstly, breastfeeding wasn’t invented by President Clinton in 1995 to further his liberal agenda, in fact it’s been around a lot longer than formula, a lot longer than bottles, in fact. Secondly, if an relaxation in attitudes breastfeeding is too much change for them, if they see a cel phone their head will explode.

    • Lauren
      September 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      This makes them uncomfortable as this wasn’t done in their generation? Okay, firstly, breastfeeding wasn’t invented by President Clinton in 1995 to further his liberal agenda, in fact it’s been around a lot longer than formula,

      Breastfeeding fell “out of fashion” for quite a long time. So in all fairness, it really probably wasn’t done during their time. I feel like we’ve trod this ground before, Steve. This is baby feeding politics 101.

      • SubjectVerb
        September 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm

        Breastfeeding fell “out of fashion” for quite a long time.

        According to The Feminine Mystique, breastfeeding was all the rage among housewives in the fifties.

      • September 20, 2012 at 1:30 am

        Breastfeeding fell “out of fashion” for quite a long time. So in all fairness, it really probably wasn’t done during their time. I feel like we’ve trod this ground before, Steve. This is baby feeding politics 101.

        Right underneath my comments about breastfeeding having been done throughout history, I acknowledged there had been a ‘relaxation in attitudes about breastfeeding,’ and that those attitudes are what these guys probably weren’t used to. I also said they should get used to it.

  9. Lolagirl
    September 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    And it is the letter-writer’s private home, so she gets to make the call about breastfeeding, and the breastfeeder (or whoever else) needs to accept it.

    Sure, I suppose this is technically true. However, if Aunt Uptight chooses to make this her hill upon which to die then should not be at all surprised when her niece decides to not come to gatherings at her home any longer. Being a host(ess) means making welcoming others into your home and being welcoming and hospitable to them. Getting all uptight about something like breastfeeding and demanding that a nursing pair leave the room (or not breastfeed at all under one’s roof) is not a terribly warm or welcoming way to treat a guest/family member.

    Aunt Uptight has no idea what she’s talking about wrt to this child’s needs to feed or be fed. There is a strange cultural narrative floating around in the U.S. that reaching the age of one somehow magically means that a baby should be walking and talking and feeding itself and thus need not remain dependant on breastfeeding. It’s nonsense, and whatever breastfeeding relationship the niece has with her child is her business and nobody else’s. Especially busybody relations who don’t know a thing about breastfeeding or familial boundaries.

  10. September 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I can see different POV’s here.. re: the aunt, her house, her rules.

    However, I agree with the ‘Get over it’ sentiment too.

    Personally, I’d advise the aunt to try something a little more subtle, like “Can I get you a (light) blanket?” or rather than outright banishing her, pull her aside and mention that it’s making some people obviously uncomfortable so maybe a light blanket might be in order?

    I don’t agree with banishing someone to another room, but I think a light blanket is a compromise.. if ‘the olds’ can’t handle even the suggestion of someone breastfeeding in the same room, then that’s too bad.

    On the other hand.. adults are adults and if the grand-dad and whoever are just quietly exiting the room or excusing themselves, without making a big fuss or acting shamey or disgusted, that’s their choice as well and I think it’s a reasonable way to deal with their own discomfort.

    • September 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Okay I need to not say ‘light blanket’ so much.

      Light blanket.

    • chava
      September 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      The ‘light blanket’ thing, it is not as subtle as you think it is. Aside from which, some babies won’t eat with a blanket over their head any more than you would.

      • Lolagirl
        September 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm

        The blanket thing often doesn’t work, I know mine hated being covered while nursing. In my early parenting days I remember deferring to my FIL’s squeamishness and nursing with a blanket over one of my twins. It was a hot, humid August day in Chicago and the baby put up a huge protest that ended with him puking all over both of us. If it’s already hot outside? It’s going to be even hotter for the person under the blanket.

        I refuse to cover up at all these days when I breastfeed. I’m adept at it enough now that hardly anyone can tell what’s going on at all other than me holding a baby close. But like I just said in that other thread, if someone chooses to get offended by somebody else breastfeeding that’s on them and not on the person doing the breastfeeding.

      • September 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

        That’s a good point.. I was thinking more of a way to open discussion, but I agree that a blanket is not always, if not rarely, a viable option.

        But the suggestion would open conversation better than “Hey, can you go somewhere else and do that??”

        As I mentioned before though, maybe it’s not necessary to mention, as Grand-dad already seems to have found a reasonable solution.. he is uncomfortable, so he leaves the room. As long as he’s not complaining to the hostess or making rude remarks or shaming the niece for feeding her kid, is it really necessary to bring it up at all?

        *shrug*

  11. Calioak
    September 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    The light blanket thing doesn’t work as well with a one year old who can pull it off his head, play hide and seek with it, stop in the middle and shriek with delight to see grandpa walking by all while holding your shirt up and popping on and off the boob.

    • September 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      Fair enough.

  12. September 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I just CAN’T IMAGINE being that bothered by a breast. Maybe just cause I have them, and I’m like “Oh yeah, THOSE things again. Snore.” For the record, I think it’s totally fine for the letter-writer to set whatever rules she wants for her own home, and when trying to make every guest as comfortable as possible, it seems like a reasonable compromise to ask someone to breastfeed discreetly, like with a shawl or something. If I had a few friends over I would just be like “Pop it out if you need to, it’s all good” but at a bigger gathering with lots of people I can see trying to find a different solution if someone was uncomfortable. But can we also take a second to talk about how we tip-toe around older people as if they are incapable of facing change? (or BOOBS?) So some older people at the gatherings are uncomfortable, and? Sometimes (and I’m talking in general society, not here specifically) it seems like older people are given a pass for judgmental attitudes or behavior because it’s assumed they can’t understand or deal with new things.

    • Partial Human
      September 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      Hear hear! Pour yourself the drink of your choice for your awesomeness.

      I think I’ll have a milkshake.

      • Lolagirl
        September 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm

        Perhaps a breastmilk milkshake? Apparently you can make a special cupcake to go with that!

        Sigh. Somehow, even this breastfeeder feels such a thing is one step too far.

      • September 20, 2012 at 1:05 am

        Now I just want a milkshake. Curses!

    • Tamara
      September 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      I think this comes from the requirement in many cultures for “due respect” to the elders. I don’t think it’s that they are being mollycoddled so much as their preferences deferred to.

      • Meghan
        September 19, 2012 at 6:41 pm

        But we see the “preferences” argument all the time. The two sides aren’t equal. The mother is trying to feed/comfort her child. The older men feel uncomfortable. Sorry guys, people deferring to your perceived comfort level is not the same as a woman nursing her child.

        Also, has the aunt talked to the older men? They might be leaving to make the mother more comfortable. As in they have no problem with nursing, but want to make her feel comfortable. This thing could be a big misunderstanding – it happened in my family.

        The time to talk to the niece is before the gathering. Clothing choices can have a big impact on how much skin is exposed. Or maybe the aunt could make sure to have toys/activities/favorite snacks of the toddler. Distracted and busy toddlers don’t nurse as often. Evidenced by the 2 y/o nursling.

      • Tamara
        September 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm

        I’m not saying I agree with deferring to elders, I was just stating my guess at the reason for her approach.

        I agree that Auntie should actually investigate the situation more.

    • September 20, 2012 at 11:19 am

      I KNOW! I hate the ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ approach because HELLO.. people, not dogs.

  13. Greg
    September 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I feel like the reaction to anti-breast-feeding hostility has gone a bit too far. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to see a bodily function get carried out in front of you. Is there any other voluntary bodily function that’s undertaken publicly? Even with chewing, we keep our mouths closed. And it’s not just a question of not looking, because even not looking takes more effort than a conversation usually requires.

    I feel like the rule of thumb, wherever you’re breast-feeding, should be that you should make it so that the people you’re with who don’t want to watch don’t have to. It’s not too hard to turn and face away from the group you’re with, or go into the next room. Putting even token effort into being discrete goes a long way.

    I mean, I don’t swear around people who’d be bothered by it, even though I disagree with that attitude. It’s just a question of taking a step toward meeting people where they are.

    • September 19, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      You’re comparing breastfeeding with eating with your mouth open? Yeah…no.

      Like I said, shitty opinions don’t deserve to be respected.

      • Bagelsan
        September 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm

        I don’t actually see what’s wrong with that analogy? Both are necessary functions (eating) and covering up or turning away would be the equivalent of closing your mouth.

      • Meghan
        September 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

        No. The equivalent would be turning away or putting a blanket over your head while eating. Also nursing is a politicized topic that only affects women. Eating isn’t a comparison because it affects both men and women, there isn’t the element of sexism and the control and appropriateness of women’s bodies.

      • chava
        September 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm

        If the mother were squirting her nipple directly into the kid’s mouth, without even latching him on, THEN maybe I could see it. Jesus, Bagelsan, have you ever even seen someone breastfeed in public? You can’t really see anything with a pair that’s been at it even a little while.

        I refuse to cover the act itself up when nothing that would otherwise be scandalous is even visible.

        Anyway, since I have a rough handle on how you feel about religion, how about this analogy: I don’t cover my shoulders/hair/legs/toes just because certain members of my family/religion think I should. If my “immodest” dress makes the more religious people uncomfortable, they can avert their own damn eyes.

      • September 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm

        One involves making smacking and chewing sounds as people stare at food chunks moving about in your mouth; the other merely involves uncovering a breast in order to feed a child.

        It’s not like breastfeeding women are exhibitionists of some sort.

      • Bagelsan
        September 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm

        I do turn my head or cover my mouth when I have to open my mouth with food in it; it’s no big. I’m not being anti-breastfeeding, I just don’t think the analogy was ridiculous.

      • Tamara
        September 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm

        Also, nursing involves a second person while eating involves just one. You can cover your mouth without any interference but covering with a cloth is more tricky, as explained by commenters above.

      • chava
        September 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        By all means, ignore the hundreds of years of history in which women’s bodies were framed as inappropriate objects whose normal functions must be sheltered from public view.

        That’s really the only way you can mindwarp the analogy into being anything remotely close to OK.

    • Lolagirl
      September 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to see a bodily function get carried out in front of you.

      Hmm, anyone else wonder if this is a Lyanna/Debra sockpuppet?

      Because we just discussed ad nauseum why breastfeeding as offensive public display of a bodily function is a specious argument in that last epic breastfeeding thread. Breastfeeding is not a bodily function akin to elimination or even burping. The purpose of it is to feed a child, not to remove byproducts of one’s food metabolization.

      Is there any other voluntary bodily function that’s undertaken publicly?

      See above discussion of this being a specious argument. Moving on.

      Even with chewing, we keep our mouths closed.

      A breastfeeding baby does eat with their mouth closed. Otherwise they can’t maintain a good latch and will not be able to nurse efficiently. Yes, I’m refusing to play along with your argument, because it’s disingenuous. See also Meghan’s explication of the more proper analogy of eating with a blanket or napkin draped over one’s head.

      And it’s not just a question of not looking, because even not looking takes more effort than a conversation usually requires

      Usually when one has a conversation with another person you look at their face and into their eyes. Your insistence that the effort necessary to not ogle a breastfeeding mother says a whole lot about how you are a creep and a cretin and nothing at all about the conversational prowess of the breastfeeding person in question. I’m going to go out on a limb here and opine that your compulsive undertaking of Operation Nipple Peaking doesn’t only occur when a women happens to be breastfeeding. But again, that’s your character flaw, and is only on you and not others who happen to have breasts.

      • shfree
        September 19, 2012 at 11:37 pm

        Usually when one has a conversation with another person you look at their face and into their eyes. Your insistence that the effort necessary to not ogle a breastfeeding mother says a whole lot about how you are a creep and a cretin and nothing at all about the conversational prowess of the breastfeeding person in question. I’m going to go out on a limb here and opine that your compulsive undertaking of Operation Nipple Peaking doesn’t only occur when a women happens to be breastfeeding. But again, that’s your character flaw, and is only on you and not others who happen to have breasts.

        I once had an entire conversation with a heterosexual male friend of mine while I was breastfeeding my baby, and he didn’t once look at my boob, or have an expression like it was some herculean effort to NOT look at my boob. (He might have even fussed over my baby, commenting on how adorable she was or playing with her foot, but it was a long ass time ago, I can’t remember.) And we were close enough to each other to have a conversation that didn’t involve hollering, even though we were in a bookstore. True fact! So the idea that it is just physically impossible for the mens to rip their eyes away from the breasts when they are feeding is just laughable.

    • EG
      September 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      It’s not too hard to turn and face away from the group you’re with, or go into the next room.

      Sure. It’s totes reasonable to expect a woman who’s feeding her baby to withdraw from all interaction with everybody else. Who does she think she is, nursing while being human?

    • Lu
      September 20, 2012 at 5:09 am

      One publicly acceptable bodily function that comes to mind is breathing. And in regard to eating, people aren’t usually asked to go to a private room to eat. Eating in front of other people is generally perfectly acceptable, even encouraged. The breastfeeding equivalent to eating with your mouth open (as far as manners are concerned) might be leaving the breast exposed for too long after the feed is finished.

    • September 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      Is there any other voluntary bodily function that’s undertaken publicly?

      OK, I admit it. I have peed in a swimming pool.

  14. Rosemary
    September 19, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    It’s not clear to me what is squicking the aunt and olds out more, the act of breastfeeding itself, or that a 1 year old is being breastfed. I nursed my son until he was 14 months or so, and the pressure from parents and some friends to stop began when my son was about one year old. Even when it’s seen as not just acceptable but preferable, I suspect for a lot of people that begins to change when the child moves out of babyhood and closer to childhood.

  15. tinfoil hattie
    September 20, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Next thing you know, she’ll go around having a vagina and everything.

    • September 20, 2012 at 3:48 am

      Dear gods, NO!!!

    • September 20, 2012 at 7:57 am

      What? Are you serious? Other women don’t just leave theirs in a safety deposit box in the Caymans like I do?

      You 99%ers, so unprepared for public life… *tsk*

      • September 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm

        Too many vaginas? Come to Crazy Shoggoth’s House of Hoo-Hah’s! We’ll store your vaginas in a cozy box in a humidity and temperature controlled room! No contract required! Daily, weekly, and monthly rates available! Once you see all my vaginas you’ll know why they call me CRAZY!

        Bad credit? NO credit? WOW! You must be a real loser! But CRAZY SHOGGOTH DOESN’T CARE! Ask about our financing plan! Tired of your old vagina? Thinking about trading up? With so many vaginas to pick from, why would you go anywhere else!?!?!

      • Ledasmom
        September 21, 2012 at 6:10 am

        I am thinking of dropping “Once you see all my vaginas you’ll know why they call me CRAZY!” randomly into conversation now.

      • tinfoil hattie
        September 22, 2012 at 2:18 am

        Dear Gravy, I am laughing so hard.

  16. September 20, 2012 at 1:19 am

    FFS, they’re just boobs!

    And somebody give this niece a high five for having the confidence to “whip ’em out” in front of her grandpa. I don’t know if I could do it.

    • Lolagirl
      September 20, 2012 at 6:28 am

      I would, I would!

      I’ve breastfed in front of plenty of folks who belong to the geriatric set (my parents and other inlaws/family members) and nobody needed CPR or smelling salts as a result of it. Getting the vapors over breastfeeding is all about choosing to do so, I don’t care how old one is or what sort of mindset of bugaboos one developed over those long years. Either you chose to adapt and evolve, or you lose out on an awful lot as life gets lived.

  17. September 20, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Most likely, the niece can’t win.

    ZOMG BEWBS make people “uncomfortable” – but so do shrieking babies who demand them. Next thing you know, they’ll be criticizing her for not scurrying over to the Breastfeeding Safehouse fast enough.

    It sucks, because I remember how I certainly didn’t want to drop everything I was doing and cut off all conversations just so I could go give my son the boob. And it feels weird to be acting like this is some sort of complex, somber, and embarrassing ritual – when it’s just me keeping my son happy and sated.

    It’s certainly the LW’s house and her rules. And if I were the niece, I just wouldn’t come back for another visit – like I wouldn’t come back to a household where I was criticized for, say, dressing “immodestly.” Seems fair to me.

  18. A4
    September 20, 2012 at 8:55 am

    The solution here as I see it is pretty obvious. This lady should complain to her niece about all the stupid shit she’s getting from these dudes about her niece’s breastfeeding. She should pepper this rant with side comments about how adorable the niece’s son is and perhaps inquire as to how breastfeeding in general is going, to show an interest in it as a real activity her niece has to navigate socially rather than a scarlet letter placed upon her niece’s body by those dudes in the room. This way the niece understands that her behavior is leading to her Aunt’s difficulties, but won’t feel like she’s being blamed for causing these difficulties.

    Likely the niece will appreciate the support, and also want to do something to mitigate the difficulties for her aunt. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too long before some sort of solution was found.

    • EG
      September 20, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Well, sure. In that scenario, my solution, as the niece, would be to say “Have you told my uncle what a pain in the ass he’s being?”

      • A4
        September 20, 2012 at 10:03 am

        Yes, but I feel certain that not many would think you’d be receptive to a demand to leave the room while breastfeeding anyway ;-)

      • EG
        September 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm

        Heh. Fair enough. Honestly, definitely not a demand! But I would be so uncomfortable, I think, nursing in front of my father or grandfather anyway…

  19. Barb
    September 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Sadly, it’s come to my attention that I am old enough to be a grandmother (my eldest is nearly 20) I am *am* “The Olds” and I have to say that in our day dinosaurs didn’t exactly roam the earth! I breastfed my children until they were almost schoolage. They breastfed the same way all kids breastfeed – pulling up my shirt whenever they needed it. Older people are people too – I am pretty sure we have seen it all before – we can cope! Breastfeeding is age-old!

  20. Geoarch
    September 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    What the hell is up with the theme in these kinds of letters that somehow the nursing mother can’t/has no right to do other things while feeding her child? Like conversing with other adults? I took my daughter to class with me starting when she was two weeks old and nursed her in her Moby wrap through three hour discussion seminars. It was not an issue for anyone involved.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that people who get all ZOMG BOOBIES about all this have seen very few Actual Real Live nursing mothers in action.

    My kids never put up with blankets on their heads, either. I tried it exactly once with each of them and it was pointless.

  21. tinfoil hattie
    September 22, 2012 at 2:20 am

    PS I find “the olds” to be a pretty rude term. Ageist, dismissive, condescending.

  22. tinfoil hattie
    September 22, 2012 at 2:20 am

    PS I find “the olds” to be a pretty rude term. Ageist, dismissive, condescending.

  23. Robin
    September 22, 2012 at 3:24 am

    It’s a tough situation because there’s probably some expectation of modesty between the generations, and the niece is simply providing for her son. The writer stated the niece does not cover up while feeding her son, maybe it could be a simple suggestion? Maybe the niece doesn’t realize that she is making people uncomfortable? When I breastfed my son I chose to either cover up or move to a private area simply because I was not comfortable exposing myself, but again it was my choice. Also, if someone is not comfortable with something they could also get up and move, but like I said, not an easy topic to discuss without hurting or offending someone.

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