Attacks on Public Breastfeeding Make No Sense, and Dads Can Help
Every so often there’s a news story about a mom who’s been called out for breastfeeding in the public. Sometimes the antagonist quickly backtracks and apologizes after demonstrating insensitivity, but that might come only after intense social media scrutiny.
Many instances likely go unknown, with some moms left only to shake their heads and possibly even comply against their will. It’s a touchy topic that sparks heated debate, and in nearly every case I’m left to wonder why.
Watching this constant back-and-forth dispute over an action with which I’ll never engage, there is little doubt over the benefits of this very natural undertaking. Not only does the child gain, but there are numerous direct advantages to the mother as well. Globally, an estimated 820,000 children under five could be saved from death – yes, death – through increased breastfeeding. If that doesn’t make this issue pertinent to fathers, if not the entire human family, then I don’t know what does.
At the same time, I fully realize how society often views breasts in sexual terms rather than for their biological purpose. This, of course, leads some to find the act offensive. But those perceptions don’t justify the prejudice. Moms don’t deserve this. Babies don’t deserve this. Even dads don’t deserve this, because those are the women that they chose to marry, and no husband wants their wife to be treated in this manner. If you’re like me, you’ll defend your spouse until the end.
As a dad who deeply supports the rights of mothers (as any dad should), I find these judgmental actions beyond unnecessary. Fortunately, dads don’t have to sit, watch and accept the unwarranted discrimination of your spouses. Should you encounter a naysayer in public, here’s a few things that dads can do to defend wives so they can focus on the matter at hand.
Present a united front. Remind your wife that you support her decision to breastfeed whenever and wherever she needs. Offering her a little extra confidence never hurt.
Have info ready. Keep some pamphlets handy in the diaper bag about breastfeeding rights, and about the general benefits of breastfeeding. You can hand them out without even saying a word, or she can when you’re not there.
Change the subject, ignore them, or laugh. Sometimes the easiest things work, and these tactics can quickly change the mood.
Set boundaries. It’s up to you to gauge the nature of the person and their disposition, but it’s perfectly acceptable to be firm and succinctly remind them that this is your child and your parenting choice and you don’t want to discuss it.
Be kind. There’s no need to get in a nasty argument. Show the other person that you understand their feelings and appreciate his/her courage to share them with you. It’s possible to fully respect their feelings even if you don’t agree with them.
There shouldn’t be any controversy about breastfeeding, but there always will be, so parents need to be strong and united in their response to attacks. Remember, this isn’t just about mothers, it’s about parental rights and roles over which no one should be forced to relinquish.
Dads certainly know a thing or two about being made to feel inadequate, so spouses can work together to change the culture and make it easier for future generations.