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How can I become a LLL Leader if...

1596 Views 18 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  chicagomom
I don't agree with the Leaders in my area???

It's really bumming me out a bit. One Leader I do agree with (so she isn't bothering me at all), but another Leader I really admire just today said a few things that I was a little taken aback by. And the third Leader just has completely different things to say that I do - she bashes Dr. Sears, encourages nighttime weaning, wants to rewrite some of the LLL philosophies and is very vocal about it...

Today at an applicant meeting we were talking about what kind of support is relevant at a LLL meeting, and some people started to complain about meeting discussions that digressed to topics of family bed, vaccinations, or homeschooling. Well, I suggested that we could refer people to the API meeting for AP issues, but I also wonder why, for example, the topic of family bed is so bad, since it is so closely tied to night time nursing. Then a few people in the room said things like they didn't co-sleep or the did do CIO.

I know this sounds awful but I don't think I could be very good at being supportive at a meeting where this kind of thinking is prevalent. It depresses me to hear people promote weaning and crying and cribs. They say things like night nursing doesn't affect the successfulness of breastfeeding, and so on... I guess I could go on about this, but I've had my little vent, so I'll leave it at that.

I just don't know if I will become a Leader after all since I don't agree with a lot of what my peers are saying.
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I just don't know if I will become a Leader after all since I don't agree with a lot of what my peers are saying.
I think that would be a great loss. Had I had a LLL leader that supported and advocated for family beds, child led weaning, etc., I probably would have nursed my ds#1 longer and kept him in my bed. When talking to new, and even experienced mamas, it is all about the approach. You may not convince all of the mamas of your point of view, but if you relay your thoughts and experience in a loving and supportive manner, you will catch a few and the others won't be threatened by your differing perspective.

It is obvious to me that the other LLL leaders in your area have had a different experiences and have a different philosophy, one that may appeal to a more mainstream clientele. You bring a different point of view, one that is probably sorely needed (considering the alternative) for women willing to look at children, nursing and childrearing in a different perspective. I think it would be a loss.

Don't lose hope
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I was a Leader Applicant (didn't complete it though).

To me, the LLL philospohy on these things was pretty clear. If all the Leaders are not following this, it seems to me that the person above (the person who trains the leaders) either isn't following these philosophies either, or wasn't screening and guiding these leaders well, when they were going through the process.

The great thing about LLL, is that you will be learning communication, leadership and facilitator skills that are useful everywhere. So if its regular moms saying these things at meetings, you learn how to redirect the group conversation back on topic, without insulting the person. This is the same as if you were chairing any meeting.

If you continue, and become a Leader, you will have as much "say" as they do, and should be able to run meetings as suits you (and LLL philosophy). And its sounds like another point of view would be good!

What does your trainer say? The person who is mentoring you through the leadership applicancy?

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Since you live in New York there are many different groups you could try. You may feel more comfortable with another group - that's OK. One of the Leaders you are describing sounds like she doesn't fit with or isn't happy with LLL and may not last long as a Leader. You may enjoy many years as a Leader and it would be a shame to let a few Leaders prevent you from your 'calling.' Once you are a Leader there are many things other than Leading groups that you can do.
I think that one of the most valuable things my Leader does is that whenever a question not directly related to BFing comes up (such as the topics you've mentioned), she will preface *everything* she says with, "The LLL official stance on that is...." or "LLL doesn't have an opinion on this topic..."

The job of a leader is to convey the group's ideals. Then if a natural discussion amongst members follows, all are aware of the group's official policy as well.

It sounds to me like your archrival Leader may need to form her own BFing support group, if she is really so opposed to the tenets of LLL.
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Were these "some people" mothers who were interested in becoming Leaders or Leaders? That makes a difference,IMHO.
About CIO,you can read LLL's stance on that in these pages of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING,7th edition pages
Shared sleep(aka co-sleeping)
pg 103-104

IMO,co-sleeping would be a pertainant topic(especially when talking about nursing/co-sleeping). CIO would NOT be,since CIO does NOT respect the babies need for mother or breastmilk. Or that is the feeling that I get from reading THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING which is supposed to be LLL's "manual",right??

My best suggestion is to follow through with your application. If you truly don't like the direction that your group is going,why not start another?
There is always need for more groups in different locations/different times. If it's tolerable for you,I agree with another poster that it sounds like the group could use a Leader like you!! Also,if it is your Leaders who are praising CIO or saying that nighttime nursing has no benefit,you could consider speaking to someone above her and let her know the tone of the group you're involved with. Just a thought.
Good luck!
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Everyone in the room today involved in the conversation I posted above was either a Leader or Leader Applicant. That's what really got to me. The Leaders had invited the Applicants to apply. Then one Leader admitted that she just found out that they hadn't been following protocol on how to nurture a Leader Applicant through the process of becoming a Leader.

It's been 1 1/2 years since I have read WABF, so I need to go back to it now. I spend more time here at MDC now than I do at LLL - I've been blowing off meetings bc it just seems so futile.

But you all have given me a lot of good things to think about. I won't give up on LLL yet!!

Ok, one other thing: the Leader who I like and respect the most was absent today, and the other two Leaders were talking about her, like how they don't like how she deals with nighttime issues. Like when a mom might complain about not getting enough sleep, she would tell the mom the benefits of night nursing, etc., instead of coaching her on how to "deal" with the problem - like supporting her initiative to night wean, as if supporting what she wanted to do was more important than informing her of the best way to handle and understand what she was going through... the one leader who bothers me the most was saying that sometimes it's better to help a mom night wean than to ignore her "pleas for help" and then she went on to say that her own son, 15 mo, will be night weaned by July 4th, and that they have talked about it a lot, and that's her limit, yada yada yada. I just don't get how she thinks she can talk it through with her baby and convince him that it's time to night wean. Even now with my 27 mo I'm just starting to see the light where I can reason with him and set nursing limits. This Leader has been trying to get me to nightwean since last fall bc she thinks I will get more sleep. But here is the thing - it's easier to nurse him and roll over than to deal with a screaming baby who wants to nurse!!!

ok, so I've obviously got issues with the night nursing thing. But the CIO comment from an applicant who is corresponding with our regional office or whatever... maybe she hasn't read WABF yet? Oh, and she also weaned her ds now that she is pregnant with #2.

Sorry, I think I am being a bit offensive now bc I probably sound judgemental - I really don't judge people by how long or little they nurse or anything... this is really more about the women who will become Leaders in a group that is supposed to support breastfeeding and all that goes with it.
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I can understand your frustration - but at the same time I think it is important for LLL to be available for women who may not all think the same way. I am considering becoming a leader as well and I did night wean at 18 months because *I* couldn't stand it any more and I did wean just before I became pg because *I* needed to do it for *myself*. Does that automatically take me out of the running? I do think that it is improtant to present all the sides - and I would have a problem with a leader who only accepted the mothers idea of weaning....but OTOH if she has presented the options and the mother really needs help in a different way I think it is MORE important to meet her where she is and help her the best she can. Why turn her away? I can't tell you how much I appreciated the support that I got when I was going through our weaning and it made me want to be a leader even more. I think the most important thing about becoming a leader it being able to look beyond your own experiences to help other mothers. I would never just assume to suggest a mom who was in my situation wean - but if after presenting the alternatives I would do my best to help her wean if that was her choice (and I am talking about babies over a year AT LEAST!)

As far as discussion and promoting other things (ie family bed, vaccinations, homeschooling, ect) in our meetings the leaders make it a point to really not promote one thing or another but the moms attending can share their experience. I think this is a good thing. After the official 'meeting' is over we always stay for at least another 1/2 hour and chat about all of those other AP things. THat way people who are there primarly for Breastfeeding support don't really have to listen. And there are plenty of women who come just for help with breastfeeding - not other things.

As far as CIO - I did think that LLL had a stance on that, and I would be shocked to find a leader that actually promoted such a thing. Maybe this applicant hasn't really done all the reading or been informed of such things.
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LLL is supportive of a lot of AP issues, natural childbirth etc. I too am a leader applicant and the leaders around here are cruchy homebirthers for the most part. It was great to meet them at a conference resently.

I will say that I do have some problems with the bf advice!

Don't give up, if a leader is not following those 10 philosophies, turn 'em in I say! It's not good for LLL to have leaders spouting off about their disagreements in public or their disregard for the philosophies.
Please hang in there! LLL is really in a state of flux and has been for several years now. A stealthy but well-funded minority slowly began experimenting with accrediting leaders that did not meet the qualifications as LLL had outlined them a few years ago. Many of the "new" leaders do not support ideals that many of us "old timers" do. As a result there are a lot more leaders out there supporting mainstream ideas, like CIO and early weaning. LLL needs moms like you to become leaders!

So many moms don't make it through the first six weeks of breastfeeding often because they receive so much conflicting advice and info. IMO we need to focus on those moms and making LLL available to all of those new moms who really need help getting established.

Feel free to PM me if you need assistance or encouragement!
I think the key here, for the Leaders, is that they understand, agree with, believe in, and promote the LLL philosophies. re weaning (night time or complete, etc.

For example, if a Leader absolutely felt she had to night wean her child, then she needs to be accepted (just as we would accept and support any mother). However, she shouldn't PROMOTE or push night weaning.

No one of us is perfect, so our mothering may not live up to all the the LLL philosophies, But that doesn't mean they can be disregarded or ignored. And this especially applies to Leaders - they ARE representing LLL. Otherwise they could just start their own bfing support group.

For example, I had to return to work at 9 months. However, I was accepted as a applicant, because in my essay and interview, I demonstrated that I didn't think this was a "good thing", that I didn't want to, AND that I went out of my way to ensure that I was always still available to my baby, and that she was able to breastfeed practically uninterrupted and never had a bottle or formula ( I worked at home FTMP, had a live-in babysitter, and she travelled with me when I had to travel). So I upheld the LLL philosophy that baby and mother should not be seperated, even though I was working. And eventually I left that job and was home full time when I became a leader applicant.

I'm told that my applicancy being accepted was a first in Canada for a working mom.

The key process was the detailed reading writing and discussions with my mentor, to screen if I had the right attitude about things. That's where obviously, in your area, its not just the Leaders that not honoring the philosphy of LLL, but the higher-ups, too.

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Boy this seems to be happening everywhere! I recently inquired about becoming an applicant and had a HORRIBLE experience listening to the current leaders become so frustrated with what's going on in the "higher ups" of LLL. Our group is definately "crunchy" and our leaders are too so no problems with them in particular.As I understand it's the people *above* them that are making things difficult in the "crunchier" areas.KWIM?

Well to be honest I agree with one of the above posters (sorry mama i can't remember your name) You may want to check out other groups.Maybe even venture outside of LLL if you can't find somewhere that you fit. I might not be too popular after this post but that's OK cuz I'm used to it :LOL I know for myself I have decided to start my own Peer Support group a little closer to home.I'm not dissatisfied with my LLL group at all it's just a troop for us! That was my original reason for inquiring about leadership. So I guess we're sort of in the same boat as far as not being able to agree, only my issue was above the local chapter. Hmmmm So does everyone still love me?
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wow that does not sound like the LLL leaders in my area. Isn't it amazing how LLL groups can be so different.

I say you should become a leader and have your own group just because you do feel differently. You never know there could be other women who feel the same way you do.
I just want to comment on one item....

I've been to a whopping THREE LLL meetings and my dd will be turning 3yo next month.

I work full time outside of the home. This is not by choice but necessity. I won't go into the long reasons here...but they are valid.

When I was about 6mo pregnant with Beth I attended Baby & Toddler Expo. There was a LLL table there which I stopped at to inquire about evening meetings. Well you would have thought I was an alien w/ 10 heads asking about eating small children! I was met with such disdain and hostility it was palpable. This woman finally looked at some of her literature and "found" a meeting for me over an hour away from my house.

I was VERY put off by the entire experience.

I managed to find a local nursing moms group that met during the evening once a month. I returned to work when Beth was 3mo and pumped every work day until she turned 1yr. I was NOT a prolific pumper and faced many challenges trying to keep up my supply. I was able to find a great support board for working and pumping moms. They were VERY knowledgable and the support was amazing, if it wasn't for them and my wonderful husband I would have never "made it" to 1yr pumping. I am very proud to say that Bethany never received any formula and we are still nursing 4-5x a week although I think she will wean herself within the next few months.

The nursing moms group I attended was fine for general info (if a bit on the mainstream side) but couldn't deal with anything differing off the norm, including pumping issues. They could talk about pumps, but anything about increasing supply or challenges...they had to look up and even then I got more info off the web. I attended monthly meetings for a year and at that point felt VERY unwelcome. Nothing was said to me overtly but it was apparent that this group was for "new" moms and I should get my 12 mo and stop coming.

In the Spring of 2003 I went to the same expo and there was the LLL table again. I stopped by asking about evening meetings. Bethany was about to turn 2yo and I was eager to meet other like minded moms, as I was the "freak" of the neighborhood (I'm the ONLY mom to have nursed my child AT ALL out of the oh 5-6 moms of infants and toddlers on my block?). Whoopeee they had some...I spoke with a great woman that was quite excited that I had asked and she really encouraged me to attend. I shared w/ her (as well as the subsequent leaders that I ended up meeting) what had happened and she was quite sympathetic (as were the others) and told me that they were trying to encourage more working moms in the area to become more involved. I was very excited.

I couldn't make the next meeting but made the one in July. I was the only one there. Same for August, and September. Just me and the Leader each time. They assured me that the past meetings had people there, a lot of people. But after three times I just couldn't rationalize spending more time away from Beth (meeting was at 7pm and it was better for her to have dh put her to sleep than to keep her up until after 10pm).

Recently a friend of mine in the midwest shared w/ some friends that she really wanted to become an LLL leader. She had been attending for over a year and was nursing her 2nd or 3rd child. She also works full time.

She was told outright that it would depend on the local leaders if they would accept her based on the whole you can't be separated from your child to have a good nursing relationship thing.


It was always my understanding that LLL wants to promote breastfeeding. I can't tell you how times I hear new moms say any or all of the following...

- I can't nurse my baby because I'm going back to work in xx weeks.

- I'm not calling LLL for help, they aren't very accepting of others

- Oh I went to one of those meetings and all I got was pressure to nurse until they are in kindergarten

...and the list goes on.

I understand that CIO and nightweaning are NOT optimal for a really GREAT nursing relationship...(we did neither) but if LLL perpetuates the idea that they are a bunch of earthy crunchy tit nazis (these are all words from my mainstream friends NOT from me) then they are going to alienate the people that need the last push to nurse or just that little extra support to keep on going past 1wk.

Then of course you have moms like me. I did my homework, had a great (although eventful) natural birth w/ a midwife and knew from the get go that not only was I going to nurse, but that I was going to pump once I returned to work and that I was going to continue doing so for at least a year.

I could find NO help or support. Thank goodness I have a strong will and an excellent super supportive husband. Most of my friends think I'm nuts for doing what I did and facing such a low supply (at times I pumped less than 2oz a session....necessitating me pumping 5-8x a day). Thank goodness I didn't have to rely on LLL for support. The last thing I wanted to do when Beth was 4 or 5mo and having pumping issues was hear a lecture or get attitude because I was working outside the home.

LLL needs to do some serious work on their image. They need ot be waaay more accepting of working moms. YES I KNOW that working full time is not the best way to keep up a nursing relationship, but the reality is that there are too many moms out there that HAVE to work. Especially in the economy that we are "blessed" with today. Isn't a working mom that is nursing better than one using formula because she didn't have the information or support that LLL could have given her??

I'm sorry for my long involved's just that it ticks me off that I had to struggle so much. I dearly wish I could have had a group of supportive moms and LLL leaders to rely on for information and moral support that first year. Thankfully I was stubborn enough to do it w/o any.

Mom to Bethany 7/21/01
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In defense of LLL I would like to remind people that every meeting is very different. My LLL group is the opposite of all of that. There is even a girl who goes who used to breastfeed but now has to formula feed because she just couldn't get her son to latch on and she lost her supply. There is also a mom who works full time at another meeting I go to....we also talk about pumping a lot.

So please people who are thinking about attending an LLL meeting just go and see how you like it. I am in the Northwest and we have great meetings up this way. Although I have heard of horrible meetings and they all seem to come from the midwest area.

That is why I am saying that if you don't like how a meeting is going get trained and start your own change the cycle.

I just hate how LLL gets bashed on this board sometimes because the meeting really depends on the person who is running it and I have an amazing, loving, leader and I feel so blessed to now have her in my life.
i agree that the working moms stance needs serious work. i had a leader applicant in my group when i was in chicago return to medical school for her residency so as not to lose all the years she had put in before her baby's birth. her daughter was 15 months old and being cared for by dad in the neighborhood but her application was not accepted. i vetoed it and worked hard to get it taken care of but the policies seem rather rigid. had she weaned her baby at a year she would have qualified. sad, she ended up being too busy anyway.

that being said, START A REVOLUTION.

there is plenty to be done within the limits and outlines LLL provides to reach moms that those other leaders will NEVER be able to relate to. don't let their shortcomings mean you don't offer your support to the other moms who might feel alienated.

there wasn't really a good place for me as a LLL leader of three years when i moved to arizona, SO I started my OWN group dedicated specifically to EMPLOYED AND STUDENT MOMS. it meets at 7pm on a night where the state university does not have many classes. it stinks being a lone leader but it works and working moms never have to wait to have their questions answered until the regular meeting is over. some leaders have toddler groups or couples groups. you have lots of choices and support from others outside your area.

good luck.
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just wanted to jump in here as well. I was an LLL leader app....

first off no one in my area would work with me because I was a part time working mom, work at home mom! Not one leader in my area would do it.
So regional leader 5 states away did my app. with me by email but they would only consider me at all because I had proven above and beyond that I had a commmited relationship to my son despite the fact that I was a working mom and I think they wanted me as a leader because I had experience with the medical field side of things. Working in it and having a NICU babe who I pumped for the first 7 weeks then finally got to latch.
Had I just been some joe smoe working mom I would have never been considered.
Through the application process I realized LLL was just not for me. They were to rigid and unaccepting of working moms.
Here is the thing in my mind.... really, who needs more support to breastfeed the stay at home mom or the working mom? Really who has more issues? Pumping, seperation, milk supply the working mom needs that info! And there are so many working moms who are yearning for that support and good info, I think its a huge shame that LLL isn't the one stepping up tot he plate because IMO they still rest on their very 1950's ideals.
But actually that is not why I left the app. process. I befriended a women who was a leader and she at one point was handed a stack of parenting books and was told to read them and then report back to her regional leader on them before conducting her next meeting or she would be stripped of her leader duties. This because her child who has a lot of energy and spunk climbed on some chairs at the library where a meeting was being held after a librarian decided to close up early not letting the child borrow books which was the mothers planned entertainment for the child during the meeting time. I just saw her as so underappriecated and over worked by LLL that I knew I was fankly just to radical and my time to worthy for the organization.
Now I do a lot of one on one breastfeeding help by phone and what not because I own a birth related bussiness. I'm very happy with my choice not to pursue the LLL leadership.
There was also an article in Salon Mag. from an LLL leader who talked about how she spends more time doing paperwork then peer support, wish I had the link but maybe you could find it by doing a site search.
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Wow, I had no idea LLL could look so bad to people. It's no wonder our group in my town closed up shop and the leader quit before I could get my paperwork in order (LLL fault, not mine). I'm not sure I want to start a group up b/c I get such off the wall comments from people or they have no idea what I'm talking about. It seems like only a handful of mothers nurse these days and only for a little while. Plus it is unwanted competition for the hospital breastfeeding group run by a lactation consultant nurse.
I attended meetings in three different towns. One town was way to clicky for me, the other was great, and then our town was pretty good too.
I don't know if I want to volunteer my time to an organization that has so many problems within the ranks. LLL is suppose to do good, but I see in some areas it does more harm than good.
THe poster who said LLL needed to work on it's image was right in my opinion.
If you choose to be a leader, be prepared to be open and non-judgemental to help change that image. I'd like to do evening meetings for working moms, but I don't know enough about pumping to feel like I'd have anything to contribute.
Best to you
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As a long time LLL member and regular meeting attendee I can relate to all the concerns listed here. I think LLL is evolving in a number of areas, and I agree that from meeting to meeting (and even leader to leader) one can get quite a variety of different experiences on topics like nighttime parenting/nursing, working, pumping, and 'side issues' like vax and home birth.

Take co-sleeping, for example. The newest ed of WAB includes info on co-sleeping, and the LLLI catalog now includes a number of books on nighttime parenting. There are now articles in New Beginnings about nighttime parenting. This is all pretty recent.

I think LLL is struggling w/regard to working moms as leaders because of the philosophy statement that a baby's need for mom is equivalent to their need for food. This struggle reflects a larger struggle over this issue in our society. Do we believe in that need, and its primacy? Our culture (that forces moms to work and separate from their children) currently doesn't. I understand LLL's thinking on this; if it's a value, how can we make working moms leaders? And on the other hand, the reality of our society is that many moms work - how can we say we support these moms if none of our leaders share their perspectives and struggles?

But I also think there are a lot of outspoken, wonderful, intelligent Leaders helping this process along. So, I have great hopes that a new chapter is beginning here, and that it will hold great promise for working moms coming to meetings and leading.
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