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Thread: Teenage Son Not Supportive

  1. #1
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    Default Teenage Son Not Supportive

    Lately my 13 yr old son has been debating with me about extended breastfeeding. He claims that it is socially unacceptable to nurse beyond one year. I basically told him the benefits of continued breastfeeding so he is not ignorant and then told him that the isssue was between me and my baby not anyone else. Little does he know that the more someone tells me not to do something, the more I will do it. Always been a rebel with many causes. I think some of his problems has to do with being jealous of my nursing relationship with the new baby.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Teenage Son Not Supportive

    My stepson (who lives with us full-time, and who I have raised since he was 5 years old) was 12 years old when my son was born. He very quickly got used to our breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere, so I really was a little surprised when later on, as my son got older, my then-teenaged stepson "turned on me" and started criticizing our breastfeeding.

    I think two things were going on. First, that "socially unacceptable" argument carries a great deal of weight with teenagers. Developmentally speaking, they are all about what their peers think. If he even suspects that his friends would think he is wierd if they knew you are breastfeeding a toddler, then he's going to blame you for their opinions. This is teenaged logic at its finest, usually, IME, laced with a great deal of arrogance and frustration if the parent doesn't immediately and whole-heartedly agree.

    Second, if your son is like my stepson, he is debating this with you as a sort of exercise in his own independence of thought. Whether HE thinks extended breastfeeding is wrong or not, obviously YOU are in favor of it, and so he will pretend to oppose it in order to feel that he isn't all that influenced by you.

    In other words -- he's young. Don't sweat it, and don't take any of these conversations too seriously. The mere fact that he knows you are nursing his brother this long is going to hugely impact how he views breastfeeding -- and by extension, women and mothers -- for the rest of his life. No matter what he says about it now, he will mature into adulthood seeing extended nursing as normal, because he has lived with it in his own family. He will probably be a fantastically supportive husband to his future breastfeeding wife (assuming he is heterosexual and does the marriage/family thing -- not all boys do, obviously!) -- so relax for now and bask in your future glory a little. (This attitude is guaranteed to drive him mad right now, of course!)

    --Rebecca

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Teenage Son Not Supportive

    I don't have a teenager, yet, but I remember being one and at that age they are very consious of what's socially acceptable. It's probably not just about breastfeeding, but about being a teenager!

    Provide him with the information and a gentle reminder that it is your job to do what's best for your children, even if it is not socially acceptable in his eyes.
    Tanya, LLL Leader and Mama to three wonderful kids

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Teenage Son Not Supportive

    Having worked with teenagers for years as a teacher, I am not at all surprised that a 13-year old boy would be uncomfortable with your nursing. After all, he may end up seeing his mother's breasts - eeewwww, or worse, other people may see them in public - gasp! Maybe you could work something out where you agree to cover up when he's around and not nurse in front of his friends? I imagine this is more an issue of an adolescent/pre-adolescent being embarassed by his mother's body than anything else. I think he'd probably appreciate your being willing to make some concessions to make him more comfortable.


    Jennifer

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Teenage Son Not Supportive

    Quote Originally Posted by miki & mom
    I think some of his problems has to do with being jealous of my nursing relationship with the new baby.

    I just realized I completely forgot to address this part of your post.

    I think my stepson had some jealousy issues going on too. He'd been the only child for 12 years, the last 7 of them with me, and then suddenly "lost" me to this new baby. But where it's acceptable for a little kid to express jealousy when a new baby arrives, an adolescent is going to feel ashamed of those feelings -- he's not supposed to need mom anymore, so it shouldn't matter to him if she's always cuddling that baby.

    I wouldn't try to talk about the jealousy issue -- it's only going to embarrass him, and he'll probably just deny it. Instead, try to mitigate it by giving him your undivided attention, even just briefly, on a regular basis. Don't make it about the baby or the breastfeeding. Just be interested in what's going on with him and let him choose what interests or thoughts to share with you. If he'll still accept hugs from mom, then make a point of hugging him every day.

    I think it was around this age that my stepson and I started doing most of our talking while driving in the car. My son usually fell asleep in his carseat or was otherwise contented with his toys, and my stepson and I would actually talk to each other -- something that didn't happen too often at home anymore.

    --Rebecca

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Teenage Son Not Supportive

    I have teenagers and I agree wholeheartedly with Rebecca's posts. My older are girls and there was never a problem or at least they never brought it up. My oldest boy is fourteen and had just turned eleven when my youngest was born. I was worried about breastfeeding in front of him because he was entering adolescence. I discussed my feelings with a family friend who is the father of five and grandbabies (all EBF) and he advised me to take care of my baby and not worry about it. It is more important that boys grow up seeing that breasts are for taking care of babies, anywhere, anytime. Of course we all know it is important to be respectful, modest and sensitive but the baby's needs have to be met and if an older person is uncomfortable then they can turn aside or move to another room.
    I think it also helps that his grandfathers, dad and other male role models he is exposed to all take it in stride.
    We talk very openly about the benefits of breastfeeding and the problems of bottling worldwide. I would challenge him in a very nice way to do some research and to show me literature that supports his statements. I think he would have a hard time finding any and then you can discuss what he finds. He has to be open to reading what you find too. Ultimately it is your decision to do what is right for your child but this is a good time to educate him too. He is a victim right now to the propaganda in our culture and his own developmental stages.
    In the end it is up to him to leave the room if he is uncomfortable and I would absolutely forbid any confrontation during nursing. If he wants to have an adult conversation based on facts then that can happen at a time when your child is not nursing. His father sets the example because I have never tolerated any confrontation/conflict during nursing. It is a time when the mother must be relaxed and tuned into her baby. Dad knows if the children are becoming unruly then they are to be herded elsewhere so that mom and baby can relax.
    My son is OK with it for now. The only comment he really ever made was to tell me it was weird to nurse Barney the stuffed animal. I thought that was funny but since youngest is a toddler now she expects me to take care of all the boo-boos for her babies and toys.

    momuvseven

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Teenage Son Not Supportive

    I remember being a teenager and would have been MORTIFIED at my mother nursing in public or anywhere that any human could see her. But then I was mortified at most things my parents did then. (Guess I should start gettting used to the idea of being on the receiving end of that in about 12 years!) I'd chalk this more up to adolescence than anything else. In some respects--and I say this acknowledging that I was this way once--teenagers aren't necessarily rational, so explaining the ins-and-outs of nursing will only go so far. Social acceptance (real or imagined) seems to be the most important factor in most things for teenagers, or at least it was for me and my friends. All we can do, I think, is show through our actions that nursing is normal, healthy, and socially acceptable. Though I don't doubt it'll be a long time before most teenage boys acknowledge that part!

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