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I was on the phone with my sister tonight and she heard my 23mo saying "Woah Car Milk!" as he drove a car off my chest to crash it on my belly. She told me it was "gross" that he was old enough to ask for milk and I was still breastfeeding. I told her "they always ask for it! it's just in a different way now. Even little babies ask for it." She said "yeah, but he can actually SAY it!" I didnt' see what the difference was, so I said "so, do you know the world health organization recomends nursing until AT LEAST 2 and beyond if you can?" She said "I don't care what the world health organization recomends, that's gross." So, I said "we plan to get through the winter for the extra immune support and then maybe nurse in the spring." Then she went into a long list of jokes like "before he can spell it, before he can write it.." She thought this was really funny, but I just said "ha ha. Well, I don't care what anyone thinks is gross, it's not gross to us and I want to do what's healthiest for him. That's my conscern."
As his birthday nears and people find out that we're still nursing (my sisters are big gabbers), I know I'll have to field more questions. What great things have you said?
 

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I've considered telling people "If he asks for it, then he must really still need it."

I think this is a good time for the "pass the bean dip" method. This is what you've chosen to do because all the information out there says it's best for your child. End of discussion (pass the bean dip). I know that's hard with sisters but sometimes we need to draw some boundary lines with family members. Does she have children? If not, it might be worth reminding her that she may feel differently one day when it's her child's health at stake.
 

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My mom also thinks it's gross. We've had several conversations about it. She nursed me for 7 months, and she is all for breastfeeding, but not for much longer than that!

I think that the "ask for it" criteria is just related to when people perceive a baby to be grown into a toddler. Just like when people use things like "when they have teeth" or "when they can walk". I think it's mostly a measure of age/maturity rather than that asking really has anything at all to do with nursing. After all, if your child asks you for say, a cracker, you wouldn't say that you won't give him a cracker because he's old enough to ask for it - that makes no sense. It's just related to the idea that people think nursing is only for "babies" and they have certain criteria for when babies turn into toddlers - whether it be talking, walking, teeth, birthdays, etc.

So the first thing to do is to point out that really her reaction is to nursing a baby vs a toddler, not to actual speech capabilities or whatever other arbitrary criteria is brought up. The next thing to do is to explain why nursing isn't just for babies. For that you could cite the WHO as you have done, but I find it more effective to talk about more specific reasons - ie WHY does the WHO have that recommendation? But that's just the way my family works and thinks - maybe your family would react better to other methods. My family is not afraid of a "friendly" debate and most of our gatherings include some kind of debate on something!
 

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Depends on who Im talking too... If it seems like the person has an honest interest on why I still breastfed Ill go into the benefits and what WHO and AAP (a lot of people I know out here only breastfeed for a couple of months) say about it. If the person is just being upnoxious or trying to give me parenting advice I use one of these: "This is what works for our family", "I don't tell you how to raise your don't tell me how to raise mine", "My husband/inlaws/family thinks its wonderful Im still nursing", or "I think Ill wean her when she goes to college, I dont' want to sleep in a dorm room"
 

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This is assuming you want to engage with her on the subject. The 'bean dip' method works too, if you want to just change the subject.

The elephant in the room is that many people see nursing an older child as sexual
.

I would ask her, "Why do you think it is gross?" then try to pin her down.

If she won't volunteer her reasons, or she can't pin it down in her own mind, ask her flat out. "Do you think nursing an older child is a sexual thing?" She will of course deny it, but if you bring up the topic and assure her it is not, that might get her to thinking, at least.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by MaryJaneLouise View Post

The elephant in the room is that many people see nursing an older child as sexual
.

I would ask her, "Why do you think it is gross?" then try to pin her down.

If she won't volunteer her reasons, or she can't pin it down in her own mind, ask her flat out. "Do you think nursing an older child is a sexual thing?" She will of course deny it, but if you bring up the topic and assure her it is not, that might get her to thinking, at least.
What an astute observation! I really hadn't thought of that. I guess it's because I'm nursing my toddler and know that it is in no way sexaul. I may bring this up at my next family gathering, if someone corners me. I bet it'll shut them up for good!

Thanks for the insight!
 

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I just reply like "Of course!" (we're still breastfeeding) and keep it really short. I've had people say (especially now that I'm preggers) "Well! Time to wean!" or "time to stop THAT" and my answer is gentle, "Oh no, there's no reason to stop", or "oh there's no problem with still nursing"...or "we're just going with the flow".

I don't justify anymore and I don't waste my time trying to explain. I laugh it off and will even say I never imagined myself as one of the moms that tandem nurses or nurses a todddler but that it's the most natural thing for me to do now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great, ladies! Thanks! I will review some extended breastfeeding information and try to prepare for the holidays. It's common for one sister to make a comment as a way of feeling out the territory and then going back to the group to discuss and create a plan of "attack." I'm confident that's what this is.
Only one of my sisters has children, the one I spoke with last night does not. I did tell her, though that if she had nursed a baby she would understand that there's nothing gross about it. That's a touchy subject because they can't get pregnant for medical reasons and they really want children.
The sister that has kids nursed both her boys for three months. Her ped told her that that was all the time they needed to get the important nutrients from her. She believed him and she's always been wierd about breastfeeding. When my LO was only 3 or 4 months old we were all out and I had to nurse him in the car. She didn't know I was and she got totally freaked out by it (though she was sitting directly in front of me and couldn't see anything!) and said she was going to puke.
So, I think it's obvious that MaryJaneLouise is right. There are definite issues with sexualizing breasts in my family. I probably need to confront that issue outright. I'm amazed that people would even think that a 2 year old would have the ability to comprehend or have a sexual feeling! And if he did why on earth would he have it about his food?
I'll be sure to tell them the benefits as well.
Once I know they're educated on the subject I'll start the "pass the bean dip."
It's so frustrating to me that this is even an issue!
 

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Quote:
I'm amazed that people would even think that a 2 year old would have the ability to comprehend or have a sexual feeling! And if he did why on earth would he have it about his food?
that is a really good point!

, mama. not having supportive family (well, more accurately, having UNsupportive family) stinks. my brother flat out told me i couldn't nurse dd1 at his daughter's birthday party. (she was newly 3. i was "allowed" to nurse dd2, though, who was newly 1.)
 

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Quote:
When my LO was only 3 or 4 months old we were all out and I had to nurse him in the car. She didn't know I was and she got totally freaked out by it (though she was sitting directly in front of me and couldn't see anything!) and said she was going to puke.
How bizarre!

The only person I've skeeved out with my breastfeeding (well, sort of with my breastfeeding) is my sister's boyfriend. My sister was 'flying' my baby over her head, and little Rowan charmingly took the opportunity to be sick into my sister's mouth and all over her face.
My sister just laughed and wiped it off, but her boyfriend was horrified... later he whispered to her 'That was in Sarah!'
Then again, the guy scares easy--my sister mentioned placentaphagy to him one time and he nearly threw up.

OP: I wonder what your sister would say if she knew a number of MDC mamas do nurse until the kids can 'spell it' and 'write it'!
Rowan's only eight months so I haven't gotten weird comments yet, but if someone mentioned the 'he can ask for it' thing I think I'd just look politely puzzled and say 'She's communicating her needs verbally instead of by crying and gesturing; I'm not going to punish her for that'. Or 'Now that she can talk, I'm waiting for her to tell me she doesn't need to nurse any more'.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by GoddessKristie View Post
I was on the phone with my sister tonight and she heard my 23mo saying "Woah Car Milk!" as he drove a car off my chest to crash it on my belly. She told me it was "gross" that he was old enough to ask for milk and I was still breastfeeding. I told her "they always ask for it! it's just in a different way now. Even little babies ask for it." She said "yeah, but he can actually SAY it!" I didnt' see what the difference was, so I said "so, do you know the world health organization recomends nursing until AT LEAST 2 and beyond if you can?" She said "I don't care what the world health organization recomends, that's gross." So, I said "we plan to get through the winter for the extra immune support and then maybe nurse in the spring." Then she went into a long list of jokes like "before he can spell it, before he can write it.." She thought this was really funny, but I just said "ha ha. Well, I don't care what anyone thinks is gross, it's not gross to us and I want to do what's healthiest for him. That's my conscern."
As his birthday nears and people find out that we're still nursing (my sisters are big gabbers), I know I'll have to field more questions. What great things have you said?
Well, I guess according to her my 5 year old non-verbal autistic son (who can't talk and does not sign)--well it is ok for him to still be nursing. (He was weaned a long time ago due to me getting deployed.)
 

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Tell her when your ds gets married and can play with his wife's boobs, then you'll wean him!!!

If it's a girl, I would respond with "i'll wean when she has boobs of her own to play with."
 

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From the reactions you are getting, it seems like further conversation may be futile. The thing is, for whatever silly reason, people are going to be grossed out by something that is really not gross. I know this is your sister, and her judgment may hurt. But really, I'd just blow it off. Siblings do lots of things their other siblings disapprove of. I'd make a joke and then "ask for the bean dip." Like, yeah "we are a bunch of breast weirdos in this house. hah-hah-hah! So, did you see that 60% off sale at the mall?"
 

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Good for you for being willing to talk to her about it! In 1998 or so I could have been saying the same things to my sister. I had no clue about AP or extended nursing, and I'm sure I wasn't very supportive. Yet here I am now, nursing a 21 month old and a 5 year old. I know she used the bean dip strategy a number of times, but she made sure she gave me good, informative answers when I had substantive questions.

You never know what will happen to the seeds you plant, even when they don't seem to be falling on very fertile ground. Who knows, you might wind up with a sister like me someday!
 
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