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What would you do? (church question)

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

My DD is 18 months old, still nurses probably 7-8 times in 24 hrs.  We had a very hard time getting to this point, so I'm not in a hurry to wean.  She is my 5th baby, and I've nursed all my children in every imaginable situation, so I'm not unaware of how to NIP.

 

DD has, in the last two or three months, been going into her age-group class at church.  I usually check her in, sit with her in the class for 10-15 minutes, or until she is comfortable with the workers and other children.  The workers and head of the children's ministry are all fine with that.  (I've volunteered in a couple of different classes, so they know me fairly well.)  DD usually likes to nurse for a few minutes as she's acclimating to the class, which is fine with me.  

 

This afternoon, I got an email from the director, asking me to nurse in the nursing room (in the sanctuary) or in the nursery, for others' comfort level, as well as for curious toddlers.  I've never had anyone ask that before, and I've been nursing her in various classes since she was born.  I'm not really sure what to do.  I kinda feel like I'm in a class with toddlers, not junior high boys, so who cares, right?  They are *babies* still, not grown-ups.  I'm always discreet, I always dress very modestly (often with layers to help me stay discreet), and DD isn't a terribly wiggly baby, so it's not like I'm showing a bunch of skin or anything.  

 

When we are in her class, I know she is wanting to nurse more for comfort than hunger, because she'll sit on my lap for a few minutes checking everything out, nurse for a few more, then get up and go play.  I think she's using nursing to help with the transition, which is completely fine with me.

 

FTR, there was a different, male teacher in her class yesterday (he and his wife are the regular teachers, but this is the first time we've seen him, since he was off for the summer.  His wife was not there yesterday.), as well as several high school (?) aged girls as aides.  I like this guy, but I'm wondering if he is the one behind the complaint.

 

Am I in the wrong, letting DD make the transition to her class easier by nursing?  I think the oldest child is maybe 2 1/2, I'm not sure.  The children in the class yesterday were all about DD's age, and there were only 4 in the room, including her.  I'm undecided how to handle this.

 

 

post #2 of 16

I don't think you are wrong to help her get comfortable with the class by feeding at the start at all. 

 

As for how to handle it, I would maybe reply by email, thank the person for their concern, briefly explain that a quick feed is how your LO is transitioning to the class (much as you described it in the post above) and say something about how keen you are for her to get as much as possible out of the classes and that, at the moment, this is the best way to do it.

 

In this first communication I'd keep it very positive, very friendly and very "we both want my LO in the class so this is what we both want" IYKWIM and not at all defensive.

 

 

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  I forwarded the email to DH, who was like, "really?  why are they even bothering you?  You're in the toddler room!"  He thought I should politely state that I'm not going to go hide in another room to BF DD, because that would validate that the only appropriate places to nurse are the mother's room or the nursery.  He thinks I need to gently suggest that instead of asking *me* to go somewhere else to nurse because someone is offended, that they ask the *other*, offended person why they are so bothered by my nursing in the toddler room.   I decided I need to just sit on the email for a day or so to cool down.  I was really wound up emotionally when I read that; it still bothers me, but I don't feel so agitated about it.

post #4 of 16

I totally agree with your DHs sentiments on the issue but I wouldn't start like that with my first reply. If they push the issue then you may need to get heavier but treating like a non-issue to start with means that they're the ones who have to make a big deal out of it, not you. Hopefully the person who complained will feel better for getting it off their chest (as it were winky.gif ), the director will feel she's done her duty in mentioning it to you and everyone can just carry on.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure how to word the email reply to treat it like a non-issue, lol.  It just feels like such a silly thing.  I mean, it's 2011, for pete's sake.  Why are we still having to deal with such pettiness regarding breastfeeding?!  

 

I would love to have some ideas on how to make it a general non-issue reply.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Here's my draft.  Bear in mind that I haven't sent it, am not certain I will send it, and am def. open to suggestions.  Mostly, I needed to start getting my feelings, thoughts, etc. written down.

 

 

Dear XXXX,

I know that it is the societal norm in these US for a child to breastfeed until only 6 months, or possibly a year.  However, that does not in any way make it abnormal, unusual, wrong, immoral, unhealthy, or strange for a child to nurse for much longer.  It does not help breastfeeding mothers in our society to feel validated and normalized when we tell moms that the only appropriate places to breastfeed a child are in the nursing mothers' room or the nursery.  It reinforces the idea that breastfeeding is somehow gross, sexual, inappropriate, etc., and something to be hidden away from public view.  Instead of pressuring the mama who is doing a very normal thing with her child to move away from normal life (whether it's me or anyone else), we should focus on the person who is offended by breastfeeding, and ask why are they offended?  What it is about me feeding my child that is offensive to you?  I'm being very discreet, the child is having a quick feed in an area where young children are playing, what is it about that that makes you feel uncomfortable.  That is the only way we are going to move beyond this crazy societal view that breastfeeding should be hidden.  
 
I'm wondering if XXXX (the teacher in that class) is the one who complained.  If so, perhaps he should also then be offended by the young ladies who come to church wearing clothing that is extremely form-fitting, low-cut, or too short.  That is more revealing, more titillating, and considerably less appropriate than a mother feeding her child in a discreet manner.  
 
Finally, for the comfort, rights, and protection of other breastfeeding mamas, in the future, complaints of this sort should be squelched, and those who are offended, reminded that 1) legally, a mother has every right to feed her baby wherever they find themselves, and 2) that breastfeeding (even an older baby like XXXXX) is completely normal.  Being offended and feeling icky are not normal, and that person should examine why they feel that way.
 
I am happy to discuss this with you further, so if you have questions, please ask me!
 
post #7 of 16

Totally agree with everything you wrote. But I wouldn't send that email first. I would try something like this (see below) and save what you wrote above for if it still doesn't go away. And I couldn't agree more that it is ridiculous that we even need to have this discussion in 2011.

 

Dear XXX,

 

Thank you for your email of [date].

 

At only 18 months DD is still at that stage of needing my help to get comfortable being in larger groups. She is absolutely loving Sunday School though and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to allow her to participate in her own time. I'm sure as she gets older she will be off with her friends as soon as she gets in the door.

 

Again, thank you for your email.

 

Kind regards

gardenmommy

 

It's a response which explains why you feed your LO in class but which promises nothing and accuses nobody. She will have to make a really big deal out of this to respond further. At which point you could get heavier and go with your original email if you wanted to, although I would probably leave out the bit about the young girls in tight clothes. It's a separate issue and just looks like you're trying to deflect attention away from yourself by picking on someone else. I'd keep it all about breastfeeding. I'd also maybe leave out the bit about "was it xxx who complained" and just refer generally to "people who are offended". Anyway, hopefully it won't come to that.

 

Regards

Kate

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post

Dear XXX,

 

Thank you for your email of [date].

 

At only 18 months DD is still at that stage of needing my help to get comfortable being in larger groups. She is absolutely loving Sunday School though and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to allow her to participate in her own time. I'm sure as she gets older she will be off with her friends as soon as she gets in the door.

 

Again, thank you for your email.

 

Kind regards

gardenmommy


I like kate's email. I think it's straight-forward, friendly, and makes it clear that it's just not a big deal.

If they press it, I'd maybe follow up with a very simple email, "I'm sorry that someone was offended, but in our state, children have a legal right to nurse wherever they are allowed. It would not be beneficial to her to nurse in another room; nursing in the toddler room helps acclimate her. I've attached a copy of our state's laws regarding this, should you need to refer to it."

And THEN if they still give you trouble, perhaps send a version of your draft. I think that draft is a bit too wordy & confrontational to start out... keep it simple & light-hearted unless they refuse to drop it.

Ridiculous that they are giving you trouble with this. Do they not allow bottles and sippy cups and snacks and cuddles in the toddler room either??? greensad.gif And I can't believe a church is giving you issues... I nursed my DS in church 'til he was 2 (when he stopped needing to).
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for the input!  I sent a version similar to Kate's.  DH helped me proof it before I sent it.  I'm hoping that it is well-received, but am expecting a follow-up pressing the matter.  We'll see.  I had to reflect and pray about it before I sent something off, because I don't want to be confrontational, but I do want to make the point that an 18 month old still nursing is NOT a big deal at all.  Thank you *all* for being a sounding board for me.  I will update with how it turns out.

post #10 of 16

How did you go? Any response?

post #11 of 16

I'd go straight for the "I'm pretty positive Mary breastfed Jesus for a long time"

 

;)

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaecho View Post

I'd go straight for the "I'm pretty positive Mary breastfed Jesus for a long time"

 

;)

 

Custom at the time would have been at least 3 years.
 

 

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post

How did you go? Any response?



I got an email response stating that neither the director nor the class teacher had realized that nursing helps DD to transition into the class, and asking me to please use a blanket to cover.  I replied that DD has never allowed me to cover her, and I was pretty sure she wouldn't allow me to start covering her at this point, esp. in such a busy, exciting atmosphere.  I think the director shared our correspondence with the other person, but I'm not positive (she asked me if she could).  I've not heard back from them.  However, her class had subs on Sunday, who told me they were asked very last minute to teach that class.  I have no idea why, but I would not be surprised if the regular teacher decided not to be there in case I showed up.  Who knows.  The director did thank me for handling the situation with grace, so I'm super thankful that I waited until I could send a tactful, gentle response.

 

 

post #14 of 16

Great news. Good for you.

post #15 of 16

Just wanted to give you kuddos for handling this situation with grace -- and countering the "just cover up" suggestion so well.  It really, really bothers me when places that should be kid-friendly ignore that breastfeeding is important for toddlers too! 

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by donutmolly View Post

Just wanted to give you kuddos for handling this situation with grace -- and countering the "just cover up" suggestion so well.  It really, really bothers me when places that should be kid-friendly ignore that breastfeeding is important for toddlers too! 



That bothers me, too.  I had to just laugh, because if I thought about it any longer, I would have gotten mad all over again about being asked to cover up in what is essentially still a nursery.  It's not like covering with a blanket draws less attention.  In fact, IMO, it draws *more* attention.  I've had multiple people (including men who were not at all fans of NIP) tell me that they didn't notice me breastfeeding, where they always notice moms with blankets.  I guess each to her own, YK, it's not my place to tell a mom to not cover if that makes her more comfortable NIP.  It's just not for me, and I don't like being asked to do that as if not covering up is somehow immodest or indiscreet.

 

Thank you for the kudos!

 

 

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