There’s an interesting article I just read in the New York Time by James Braly in which he complains about how his wife’s late breastfeeding (to their 5 year old child) is ruining his attraction toward her. It’s an incredibly personal piece and one which has raised a lot of conflicting and rather emotional comments. Curiously, the article is published in the New York Times section on motherhood, even though it is written by a man and from a man’s perspective.
It is not just a personal piece, though this is how it is written. It is a topic which is of interest to many men whose partner has become overly attached to their child. This is widespread as there are many experts, with quite a few followers, who believe in a longer and closer physical attachment between mother and child than most women in previous decades used to give, and this includes breastfeeding to an older age.
Now, there is no physical need for a 5 year old child to breastfeed. This child has teeth, he can eat solid foods, he can chew, and he can eat all sorts of food, not just his mother’s milk. So, this is a decision that has no real necessity other than the need of a mother to feel close to her child in her special way based on her belief in what’s good for him.
The problem is, as Braly writes, is that for some men, breastfeeding at a late age becomes a big turn off. It stands to reason as it does seem unnatural to a degree and breasts are a highly sexual body parts.
However, breastfeeding is simply a symptom of a problem that many couples face after childbirth: Child Latching.
Child latching means that one (and sometime both) parent has a physical contact with a child, even after the child is no longer a baby, that exceeds what we’ve been used to these past few years. In some household the parents and children sleep in the same room, in others breastfeeding continues for years, etc. The particulars change from one household to the next, but the basics are the same.
What the problem is with all of this?
I won’t go into the effects Latching has on children. This isn’t my territory. What I will talk about is the potential effect on intimacy in a marriage. It can be quite grave.
For instance, when children sleep in the same room as their parents, how are these parents supposed to find any time and privacy for intimacy? Either they would need to have sex with their children in the same room or not do it past their bedtime.
As for lengthened breastfeeding, it may turn some men off. It takes away from the sexuality of the breasts and their appeal to a man and turn them, in his eyes, into something else. It is hardly surprising that some men feel that their partner has stopped being a wife and become a mother. It can lead to a lower sex drive in men. Women may wonder what the problem is, but let’s just say that there is a problem for men.
Now, some would say there is a bigger problem in such a marriage in which breastfeeding is a turn off for the husband. They may be right and they may be wrong. However, when a man voices his opinion in a cry-for-help appeal, it is not right to dismiss it and lay all the blame on some mysterious underlying problem. It is time to talk about Child Latching and remind both mother and fathers that they are also romantic partners. They need to find the balance between child rearing and being husband and wife.
For children, the happiness of their parents and stability of their marriage is very important, perhaps more than breastfeeding until they’re five. So, parents should work on their marriage for the sake of their children as well as their own.