DH gets a call from FIL yesterday saying that they feel uncomfortable with me NIP our 5 month old DD (we just saw them this past weekend for dinner at a restaurant). We are invited to spend time with them for an Easter/birthday celebration this weekend and I guess they wanted to 'warn' us beforehand that they would not be tolerant of my nursing DD in front of them in their house. The following is the email exchange that happened this morning. Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated, as both DH and I are under a lot of stress about all of this. THANK YOU, wise mamas...
letter from DH to FIL:
Thanks again for trying to be sensitive with bringing up yesterday's discussion on nursing. I was aware of your efforts, and I appreciate it. As I'm sure you could tell from our talk, we have dissenting views on the etiquette regarding nursing in public.
Perhaps you are right that part of these differences stem from traditions from some of those from the older generations mixing with more progressive views from the younger generations. But after thinking about it for a while, M and I do find it interesting that of all of our family, friends, and neighbors, only the H family has an issue with nursing in public. Most people just don't find it that big of a deal anymore. We have even had a number of strangers approach us in public and praise us for having an open nursing relationship.
That being said, we do respect our family members and elders. Therefore, while we have not changed our belief that M should be able to nurse K whenever and wherever she wants and needs to, we will refrain from doing so while under your roof or the grandparent's roof.
You mentioned that you have had discussions with family members regarding your shared discomfort regarding nursing in public. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I am going to strongly suggest that people not voice any condescending opinions to us (particularly this week-end). Of course we know that you and J (SMIL) would never do this. Perhaps it would be best for you to talk with your parents and give them a bit of a briefing, and suggest that they (your mom in particular) not make any inappropriate comments. In the interest of family harmony, M and I would prefer to avoid coming under attack for our beliefs, but if we are pushed, we will go toe to toe with anyone and uphold the decisions that we’ve made.
Since you told me on the phone that you would be willing to talk with both M and I about why nursing makes you uncomfortable, we will take you up on this. We will respect your wishes to not nurse K in front of you under your own roof, but in return, we would like you to think hard about why you are asking this. So far, I have only gotten that you and your generation didn't do it this way and that you aren't used to seeing it - not very compelling arguments and quite frankly this is not a sufficient answer to our justified question.
In other words, just because something makes us uncomfortable, doesn't necessarily make it wrong or shameful or inappropriate. There are many things that used to make me uncomfortable (including the first time I saw a mother nurse!), that I have come to accept through the experiences of life, learning, expanding my consciousness and trying to think outside of my little black box.
Nursing children is a natural, beautiful, and magical experience. It is not something that should be hidden, or quite literally be kept in the closet. And M and I feel strongly about doing our part to continue to change public opinion so that people realize this. Every time a mother leaves a room to nurse, it teaches others (especially our children) that there is something awkward or unnatural going on. My guess it that if you had grown up in a family where nursing was more honored, your views might be different as well.
Finally, since you have brought up the topic of us making you feel uncomfortable, I feel obligated to point something out. What about your mom and her drinking making others feel incredibly uncomfortable? Why is it that this family tolerates her drinking and subsequent cruelty? For the life of me, I can't understand why you would take a stand on my wife nourishing our child while completely covered up in front of you, and not make a peep to your alcoholic mother who dominates all of our social engagements and verbally berates and embarasses all of us.
Her alcohol induced venom is poisonous and is destructive to everyone. Talk about uncomfortable. M and I do not enjoy being around her when she is drinking. Out of respect for you and the family, we have tolerated it thus far. But I am reaching the end of my fuse. I will not continue to let her insult me or M using alcohol as an excuse. And look out if she ever goes after K.
I know you believe in honoring your parents. We do too, which is one of the reasons we are willing to compromise under certain circumstances regarding nursing in public. But I don't believe in honoring one's parents at the cost of letting them do whatever they wish and hurting those around them that they're supposed to love and honor. Something here is very wrong and it hurts us deeply that you have chosen to confront us regarding nurturing and nourishing our precious daughter, while ignoring this obvious and atrocious display from your own mother. We find it incredibly ironic that your mom is one of the people pushing our current discussion, when she is the primary cause of so much pain and discomfort in our family.
As you can tell, I had a lot to say, which is why I chose e-mailing as a response. Please give me a call so we can further discuss before we drive up to see everyone tomorrow. We love you.
AND THE RESPONSE WE JUST GOT A FEW MINUTES AGO FROM FIL
(paraphrased in order to comply with the UA)
"You say that the H's are the only family that finds breast feeding in public uncomfortable, but by your own comments to me regarding the national debate on this topic, you know that not to be true." He goes on to describe a little informal survey that he took of some friends, neighbors and coworkers that 'proves' that apparently everyone is shocked and disgusted by nip. He also voices his resentment of the fact that breastfeeding mothers are protected by law.
He stated his reasons for being uncomfortable with nip..."Call me old fashion, but I would only expect to see a woman's bare breast in a bedroom, a doctor's office, a strip joint or Playboy magazine. As much as I like the various parts of a woman's body, I prefer not to see them while I'm out and about in public doing business or being with my family. I guess another way of saying it is I don't view breast feeding as a spectator sport!"
He then goes on to criticize 'our generation' for throwing etiquette, traditional values and culture out the window. Say WHAT?
He did end on a positive note..."I'll call you to discuss this in more detail, but mostly I am so thankful and delighted you and M are still coming. You just cannot imagine just how much we love you both...and of course my very own Grand-daughter!!!" This was of course before I was able to send my own rebuttal and to tell them that we wouldn't be going.
Anyways, a little background info.
-ILs are Christian, we are not. Although in the grand scheme of things this is a non-issue, the Biblical ideal of honoring your elders has come up several times in this discussion.
-I like to think of myself as a very discreet NIP'er. I do cover myself as best as I can (easier said than done with an active, distractible 5 month old
-Out of the three women that are apparently the most bothered by NIP. two have breast cancer and none of them have ever nursed themselves.