I’ve heard some appalling things happening to women who nurse in public. I’m sure we all have. Women asked to move or leave. Women asked to cover up more despite already being very discreet. In some of these cases, the law is clearly being broken. The most recent case of this has been in Texas where Penny Schlanser, a nursing mother, was asked to leave the children’s area of her gym. The workers had no problem with her nursing in that area, and legally she can. The owner, however, asked her to move to the lounge. The owner’s reason was because she didn’t want to receive complaints from other parents whose older children may or may not ask questions about Ms. Schlanser’s nursing.
I completely see what the owner’s thoughts were. Fortunately, the law is in Ms. Schlanser’s favor, but what about parental rights? It would be nice if breastfeeding was more normal in society, but is it my right or Ms. Schlanser’s to force other parents to explain breastfeeding to their 11 year old?
I look at it this way. While breastfeeding in public is normal and natural, not everyone else views it that way. The same thing can be said about sex. Do I want my child to see someone in the middle of coitus at a gym? This may happen, but I would expect the owner to break things up. Sex is normal and natural, but I would prefer to be the one to explain all that to my children. The same logic can be applied to other people’s children. Breastfeeding is normal and natural, but do I want someone else explaining that to my child? Considering that I expect my children to have memories about breastfeeding, I don’t think I will have to explain anything. However, what of the other child’s parent? Do I have the right to take that talk away from them?
Perhaps I’m totally in left field about this issue. Maybe there really isn’t a line to be drawn about breastfeeding in public. Perhaps there should be an even stronger push to make breastfeeding in public, particularly around children, more normal. I’m not sure. Until breastfeeding in public becomes normal, perhaps a little more discretion and courtesy of parental rights is in order. What are your thoughts?
Article by Laura Weirich
Laura Weirich has been married for four years and has two sons. She's been breastfeeding for nearly two years and currently tandem nurses her toddler and infant. A big proponent of breastfeeding, she's been educating her friends and family about the benefits of breastfeeding and helping other women along the way. When she's not nursing, she chases a toddler all day, washes cloth diapers, tries to catch a few zs and reads up on the latest research about children.
Laura has written 33 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
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