The Atlanta Family Law News Blog - Find an Atlanta Family Attorney

The Time Magazine Breastfeeding Cover: 3 Family Law Questions to Ask

Time Magazine will be hitting the stands with its latest issue in the coming weeks and its new cover is causing a stir, just in time for Mother's Day.

The cover features a woman breastfeeding a pre-school age child. The controversial cover is prompting emotions on both sides of the breastfeeding issue. While some women feel that breastfeeding is extremely important, others feel that breastfeeding an older child may constitute child abuse.

The Time Magazine cover commemorates Dr. Bill Sears, a pioneer in the attachment parenting movement. The concept of attachment parenting presents many controversial issues that some may feel cross over into questionable territory, such as the idea of co-sleeping with children and breastfeeding into toddler and pre-school years.

With all the controversy surrounding the issue, we thought it wise to address a few legal questions that the Time cover is sure to raise.

1. Is breastfeeding child abuse? The answer to this is most likely no. The breast in this context shouldn’t be considered a sexual organ, despite what many people may believe. In fact, there are many laws that protect breastfeeding in public places. However this area of law is murky. In one situation, a Texas woman found herself on the wrong side of the law when she took photographs of her child breastfeeding to the local shop for development. Her children were taken away for a period of time and while charges were eventually dropped, the police did acknowledge that the photos constituted a grey area.

2. Can a father intervene if he thinks the mother has gone too far with attachment parenting? That’s a tough call. As long as the mother is not endangering the child, the father doesn’t have a case for child abuse. Now, some attachment parenting mothers insist on breastfeeding a newborn at the exclusion of the bottle or formula, even in cases where the baby is not taking to breastfeeding. In such a case where the child becomes malnourished due to a mother’s actions, the father could have a right to intervene. However, doctors might intervene first, though.

3. Is co-sleeping considered child abuse? It’s not necessarily considered child abuse but some parents have been charged in the death of their child while their infant was sleeping in their bed.

The whole attachment parenting movement invokes a variety of emotions on both sides of the argument. While some argue that attachment parenting crosses into illegal territory, a parent still has the right to determine what’s best for their child and as long as they’re not violating any hard and fast child abuse laws, the area will still remain a grey area of the law.

Related Resources: