Breastfeeding and Bible Study: WWYD?

August 5th, 2010 by Dionna | 31 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Feed with Love and Respect

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I received a question on a breastfeeding post last week, and instead of trying to answer it myself, I wanted to get your input. Here is the question:

I have no problem with breast-feeding in public. In fact I am a bit jealous of those who can . . . when my daughter was born we tried everything to get her to latch on and she just wouldn’t. Eventually I ended up bottle feeding her.

I am finding it difficult to word my question, but here goes. I host events in my home quite frequently, and recently one of the mothers was breastfeeding during a small women’s Bible Study. I noticed but didn’t really think much of it. Later another mother contacted me to inform me that she would no longer be attending the Bible Study. I asked why and she said it was because the breastfeeding mother was exposed. She had no problem with breastfeeding, but it made her uncomfortable when no form of cover was used.

I contacted the breastfeeding mother and asked her to cover up in the future. I also apologized for not offering a blanket. Perhaps this was the wrong tactic; my intention was to keep anyone from feeling uncomfortable, but I made the breastfeeding mother uncomfortable in the process.

How do you handle a situtaion like this without making anyone feel uncomfortable & minimize confrontation?

Beautiful breastfeeding art by Kate Hansen at www.KateHansenArt.comSo, gentle readers, without coming down on the reader who is trying to make things right here, I’d like to make her question two-fold:

1) How can she make amends with the breastfeeding mother? In my opinion, she should call and let the breastfeeding mother know that she does not need to cover up during Bible Study. How can she do it graciously, so that the mother does not feel embarrassed to attend in the future and feels confident enough to nurse in whatever way makes her most comfortable?

2) How can she talk to the woman who is uncomfortable with a woman breastfeeding uncovered? And when you answer, please try to address both this situation and any situation where someone has to play the middle (wo)man between a breastfeeding friend and a friend who does not understand a breastfeeding mother’s/child’s rights.

I know this is probably not necessary, but let’s try to answer from a place of education and encouragement – the mother who asked this question has a real opportunity to help open someone’s eyes to the beauty of breastfeeding. How can she best do that?

What would you do if it were your friend? You wouldn’t want to alienate her, you’d want to educate her.

By the way, there were some excellent posts from a religious perspective published during NursingFreedom.org’s Carnival of Nursing in Public. These might be helpful to read as you form your answer to these questions:

  • Ever wonder why Christians are blamed (in part) for the prudishness that has so sexualized the female breast? Lauren at Hobo Mama wrote a thought-provoking piece on the history of the Christian church.
  • Jewish women have inherited a beautiful legacy of breastfeeding. Sara at The Covered Wagon explained why Jewish mothers need not cover up to comport with the religious laws of modesty.
  • It is our culture’s message, not the Bible’s, that breasts are singularly sexual. Megan at SortaCrunchy shared her perspective on breastfeeding from a Christian point of view.
  • Hannah at A Mother in Israel explained that, for Orthodox Jews, feeding a baby trumps any notions of modesty.
  • The Catholic Church has a centuries long history of celebrating and supporting breastfeeding. You know what they say – it’s the way Mary fed Jesus! Kimberly at Fertility Flower shared her thoughts on the Catholic perspective.

31 Responses to:
"Breastfeeding and Bible Study: WWYD?"

  1. Lauren B.

    1) Well, I think this is the easier one to “fix”. I’m with you, Dionna, and I think the best thing for middle-mom to do is call up NIP mom and apologize. It probably doesn’t matter so much what she says, as long as she’s sincere. I think something like “I didn’t really know what to do, and I was just trying to keep everyone comfortable. I think it’s awesome that you’re nursing your baby, and it warms my heart to see you responding to his/her needs so well.”

    2) The hard part. First, I really think Middle-Mom (MM) might not be able to make uncomfortable mom (UM) more comfortable, and THAT’S OK. I completely understand wanting everyone to feel comfortable in one’s home, but you do the best you can, and sometimes you can’t make everyone happy. When I was reading the problem above, I thought, “Hmm, what if UM thought another mom was too fat, or ugly, or gay, or the wrong color?” It’s possible I could change UM’s mind, maybe depending on how close we were, but in any of those cases, as with NIP, I’d have to say “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I will not be asking the other person to leave or change their behavior.”

    Then, depending on my relationship with UM, I’d probably talk about why I think it’s important that mothers feel comfortable nursing their children (and maybe nursing on demand, too). I’d mention whatever my state’s law was, and I’d probably make an analogy to other public behavior that might make us uncomfortable (I think Lauren @ Hobo Mama did a fabulous job with her post comparing smoking to NIP http://www.hobomama.com/2010/07/nip-and-smoking-if-you-dont-like-it.html ), and whether or not we should ask others to change their behavior. I guess what it comes down to is explaining to UM why, as MM, you’re making the choice to support NIP, even if that means UM won’t be coming back. Respectfully, but firmly. And I wouldn’t feel guilty about it, because however some people might feel about the actions of others, sometimes they’re WRONG, and it’s perfectly OK to stand your ground about what you feel is right.

    Good luck, Middle-Mom. I’m sorry you’re in a tough spot.

  2. I would have a Bible Study session on how NORMAL breastfeeding is, noting all the times women NIP in the bible….

  3. Sharon Temple   revtemple

    I’m a female pastor and new grandma who breastfed when NIP was not so much an option. Now, my daughter is an NIP new momma. I encourage all involved in this to see this Bible study group as a fertile field for relationship building, communication, and discussions on shared biblical values.

    (1) The MM can model for the NIP mom “I screwed up (sinned) and I ask for your forgiveness. I was taken by surprise and I would like to revisit this with you and everyone on our group. Just know that you are welcome here, just as you are.”

    (2) Then say the same thing to Uncomfortable Mom. I would also remind her that, in church, we don’t just up and quit when someone “sins” against us. I don’t mean to say that NIP mom is wrong, but UM obviously felt wronged, and that needs to be acknowledged.

    I would make sure that they both felt invited back and tell them that their participation is important because if the group can be disrupted that easily, then more group work is needed. Remind each of a previous connection between the two of them and/or the important place each has in the group. Since it is a Bible study, there is much about faith life that speaks to staying together and how to do that. Is the group courageous enough to take Bible learning into a real life situation?

    Bible aside, in our current climate it seems easier to draw lines than to work at building bridges. Isn’t relationship and nurture and a better planet what we hope for when we breastfeed?

    This is a wonderful opportunity and I wish them all the best!

  4. the grumbles   thegrumbles

    Danielle I was thinking along those lines too, what if middle mom approached uncomfortable mom with scripture examples of how nursing is awesome? Maybe that would help her be more accepting?

  5. Acrophile

    1) I would indeed call Nursing Mom (NM) and say something to the effect of: “Hi, I just wanted to make sure you know that you’re welcome in my home and that you can nurse your baby any way you need to there. After I asked you to cover up, I felt a bit ‘wrong’ about it, so I looked into it, got some education on the subject, and saw that the embarrassment should be mine, not yours. So please come back to Bible study with your baby and be welcome.”

    2) I would not call Uncomfortable Mom (UM); I’d approach her after church, so that there’s physical presence, and say something to the effect of “Hi, I just wanted you to understand that you are welcome at Bible study, but that NM needs to be able to nurse her baby any way that baby needs her to. I understand why you are uncomfortable; our culture has a hard time looking at the breast in a non-sexual way. I have some resources for you to look over at your leisure,” and HAND HER some information on BFing and NIP. Modify Dionna’s letter, give her one of the NIP state law cards, copy my leaflet, whatever, but HAND it to her, very gently. Then continue, “We would LOVE to have you come back to Bible study whenever you are ready.”

    • Djrianna

      I think this is lovely. I love all the ideas, but I particularly agree with the leaflet, information packet…Something tangible that isn’t NM’s or MM’s words.

  6. Megan at SortaCrunchy   SortaCrunchy

    Wow. I don’t think I can even add anything of worth – Lauren and Acrophile made such wonderful suggestions.

    Thank you for linking to my thoughts on breastfeeding as worship. I think UM’s perspective is just a symptom of our culture’s unhealthy view on breasts in general. She probably doesn’t even realize how much our culture has tainted her view on God’s creation and His plan for nourishment of babies, so I think the gentle, loving approach is definitely the best one. Sometimes we don’t know how unwell we are until we are healed, and so gentle, peaceful advocacy is definitely the way to go here.

  7. Rebecca

    I’m going a different direction with this. First, a couple comments assume its a women’s only study. If it is, then I can understand suggesting that the uncomfortable mom get over it, depending on the dictates of the particular church. Was the uncomfortable mom uncomfortable for herself or did she have older children present that she was uncomfortable for?

    However, if the dictates of the religious organization is that women should stay covered, then NIP mom should have done so, at least in a religious sponsored setting. I know women who are never uncovered outside of the bath because that is what they feel God requires.

    If the religion doesn’t dictate nursing discretely, host mom should quietly go to the members of the study group and find out how everyone feels about it. If uncomfortable mom is in the minority, let nursing mom nurse however she feels she should. However if uncomfortable mom is in the majority, maybe host mom should consider sticking to her request (but not demand) a cover.

    If host mom personally prefers nursing mom should use a cover, she should feel free to ask for that.

    I’m all for nurse-ins and lactivism in public places, but this is a woman’s private home, and hosts have the right to determine behavior in their homes. It is no more fair to ostracize uncomfortable mom than nursing mom. It is even less fair to take away a social/study event for a group (if the majority is uncomfortable) for the sake of lactivism.

    For what its worth, I’m a nursing mom, and nursed my toddler in public most places until it got to where she was too distracted to nurse out, so now we only nurse at home.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you for your thoughts, Rebecca. I’ll stick with my previous answer re: no mother should need to cover up if that’s not how she is comfortable nursing. With any Bible-based religion, there is no reason a woman should have to stay completely covered, both Paige & Megan (links are in the post) have excellent Scripture-based examples of that.
      Fortunately, it sounds like this host has no problem with the woman nursing uncovered. I completely disagree with polling the group – the right to breastfeed shouldn’t be democratically based for every setting you are a part of, that just doesn’t make sense.
      Personally, if someone had asked me to cover my son when he was tiny (with his bad latch and his tendency to fall asleep and not get enough milk), I probably would have felt uncomfortable enough that I would have left. I’m not sure why it’s fair that the breastfeeding mother is the one who would lose out on the fellowship because of others’ hang-ups. It doesn’t sound particularly Christ-like, and that is sad.

      (Edited to add) Several people on NursingFreedom.org’s Facebook page have said that they nurse covered in certain situations. I respect their decision to do that, and I’m not advocating against that. What I am advocating for is making it the woman’s choice. Like several other people have said, the grown adult has just as much of an option to situate herself so she doesn’t see anything – why put the burden on the breastfeeding mother, who is already tending to another person’s needs (her baby’s)? Why is the baby’s need to receive nourishment lower on the totem pole than the adult’s need to avert her eyes?

  8. JustOneMama

    I would appologize to the nursing mom for sure, explain that she should be able to feed her baby in which ever way is comfortable for her and that in an attempt to please everybody you neglected to remember that fact. Encourage her to keep coming to the study and feed her baby however she is comfortable.

    The uncomfortable woman needs to be addressed as well. Explain that God created women with everything we need to care for our children and that Breast feeding is a natural and God Given thing to do for our babies. Remind her that it is a Bible study for women and that as and exclusive women’s group the BF mama should be able to feed her child any way she was comfortable. This is not a case of exposing a breast to some one else’s spouse (I have no issue with this but I can see where others would)this is simply a case of women studying with women. I would also go to Matthew chapter 18 and address the situation in a Biblical manner…go to her in person first, then if that does no good take two witnesses etc. I would also consider speaking with the church leadership to see what their stance is if they have one.

  9. A.G.

    I understand that we want to educate everyone, but sometimes I think telling someone “The Law says…” can come across the wrong way. I would see if both women were willing to talk it out nicely. I understand that some people are not comfortable with the site of breast, however, this was in a group of only women. As women we all have breasts, so I have never felt the need to cover myself around other women (& I use a cover for NIP).

    Maybe by these women talking to each other they can come to a better understanding or the others views. If one is not willing to talk to the other, that is ok also. I would ask the NM what she thinks she could do to help, let her come up with some ideas.

    Breastfeeding is found in the Bible & I don’t think they cover up back then! I’m sure there were women nursing there babies in large (& small) groups of women (& even men in some cases).

    There is no reason why the Hostess of the group should be the one having to make everyone happy. She does not have to take it all on herself! Its not fair to her to have to be the one to “fix” everything. The others involved should be willing to work together towards a good solution for everyone. I know when I try to fix things on my own I never see as many options as a small group (in this case the other 2 women involved) can.

    If you feel you may have offended the NM then call her or talk to her at church & tell her you did not intend to offend her you were just trying to help the other lady feel comfortable & ask the NM to help you find a way to do that.

    Also, understand that you may not get the results you wish for. The lady that does not like the way this mother feeds her baby may not return to the group, but you will know that you did all you could to come to an arrangement that would work for everyone. In the end it is her choice to stop coming & not anyone elses fault.

  10. SheBear

    As a Pastor’s Wife, in a very small, very traditional, very conservative, almost “fundie” type church, I have the dubious “honor” of playing the middle-mom quite often.

    I also am in the fun position of being an attached, responsive mama who believes in all sorts of “wacky” things like cosleeping and NOT crying-it-out and child-led weaning, so as you can perhaps imagine, I feel my ears burning quite often, even though most people are generally “too polite” to ask/say anything to my face! I wish they would approach me directly….at least then I could explain/educate/defend as necessary.

    Anyway, to the mama posing the question: First, kudos to you for your spirit of hospitality! How lovely of you to open your home to your sisters in Christ….such generosity is rare these days, and so valuable! I pray that you and all who enter your home are richly blessed by the fellowship you offer!

    One of the difficult parts of extending hospitality is that we often get carried away and can forget that one simple rule in life–that it’s impossible to please everyone, and that trying can be debilitating to your health/sanity/testimony. I do this even with silly things: “I should serve coffee, but what if someone wants decaf….I’d better pull out the other pot and make both. And iced tea for the non-coffee drinkers. But some like it sweet–I should make both. And I should have sugar-free sweetener because Brother Joe is diabetic. And I’ll make lemonade for the kids….but maybe the moms don’t want them to have all that sugar….maybe I should do juice boxes instead, at least it’s “natural” sugar. I wonder if I should get some sugar-free cookies and ice cream for Brother Joe….”

    And my husband just shakes his head and sighs….LOL! It’s FUN to be hospitable, to open our homes, to put our energy into another person’s comfort. But we have to keep sight of the line…we can’t please everyone!! Remember that Christ didn’t even try to please everyone–in fact, he made quite a lot of people angry with His teachings. It’s cliche, but what WOULD Jesus do in this situation?

    To the offended woman, I think he’d probably gently say, “I’m sorry that you were offended by the mother feeding her child, but I would not hurt her feelings for all the world, when all she is doing is trying to raise her child and follow Me. We will really miss having you at these bible studies. I hope that you and Sister Breastfeeder can discuss this and work it out so that you will feel comfortable coming back. Please know that you are always welcome!”

    Seriously? Shame on her for burdening you with HER issues. If she was truly offended, she should have followed the pattern in Matthew 18 and approached the breastfeeding mother directly with her concerns (hopefully in an open-minded, gracious and kind way!). Or just gone quietly home and not come back to the next study, without saying anything to anyone if she wasn’t willing to address the mother directly. Putting you in the middle and more or less demanding that you “do something” about it is terribly rude and unkind. Now, if one of your children did something to offend her, addressing you would be appropriate, but she effectively made you responsible for another adult’s behavior, and that is not a kind way to repay your hospitality!

    I’ll let you in on a little secret: I suspect that the breastfeeding issue may have been merely a scapegoat for this woman. In my experience with church members, when they do the “I’m not coming back because I’m offended!” routine (which, sadly, is quite similar to my 2yo’s “holding my breath until you give me candy” routine!), it is generally the truth that they are looking for an excuse to be offended. If you “fixed” the breastfeeding “problem” for this woman, chances are that at the next study she’d be offended at something else. She’s looking for justification to not come back, and she will eventually find it. In those cases, I figure it is more gracious for me to just step aside and let them leave without a fuss. Again, if she were offended but truly wanted to fix it, she would be going home and re-reading Matthew 18, not calling you to inform you she won’t be back.

    As for the breastfeeding mom, I think this is easy to fix, as long as you are willing to genuinely humble yourself before her and beg forgiveness. I think it could be as simple as asking her to coffee and saying, “I’m so sorry that I made you uncomfortable–I should never have said anything at all, because your actions were above reproach. I momentarily forgot that my job as host is to be loving, gracious, and generous, but not to try to please everyone. I should have told Sister Fussy Pants that you were more than welcome to feed your baby in my home, and that she should be forthright enough to address you directly with any concerns she had.”

    “I hope you will forgive me for being insensitive, and I want to assure you that henceforward, I got your back, sistah! ;-) If it makes you feel better, I will host the next bible study topless as a show of solidarity!” LOL, okay, maybe not that last bit, but….

    I think the breastfeeding sister will be eager to forgive you, and thankful for your genuine support. I think the offended sister will be huffy and self-righteous for awhile….possibly try to stir up trouble with a few other sisters in the group, get them to be on “her” side (and this is where discussing it as a group topic without naming names could be helpful), and then when she sees that her effort to hold the group hostage to her demands is not working, she will either quietly disappear, or just as quietly come back. Either way, it is not for you to do anything but stick firmly and gently to what you know is right, and pray for all your fellow-sisters! :-)

    I hope this helps….I’m saying a prayer for you now, that you’ll find a peaceful way out of this spot that you should never have been forced into in the first place! <3

  11. Dear (nursing mom),

    My sincere apologies for asking you to cover up next time. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, and after some more thought, I really do commend you for being so brave to feed your child where you are comfortable. I apologize on behalf of my other friend, but please do understand, that in this culture, breasts do make people uncomfortable for sexual purposes, and most of us can not help the way we were exposed to this as a truth. You are welcome at my bibly study anytime, and I will leave it up to you in the future if you want to cover up, or continue as you did before. I know it can be a hassel tryign to keep a blanket on a squirmy baby when he/she doesn’t like to be covered, and it can cause the opposite affect of bringing more attention on yourself, as well as it can get pretty hot and stuff under there for your baby. Thanks for your understanding. I am also planning on bringing up points in the bible that relate to nursing in general, do you have any you might find helpful?

    Sincerely, your friend

    Dear (friend that was uncomfortable),

    After much consideration, I will not be able to ask my other friend to keep covered when nursing. Not only is it akward to the feeding mother and baby, but is can get quite hot, and draw unwanted attention to her as well. I encourage you to look within your heart to the reason God made breasts in the first place vs. what our society has turned them into. It gets much less uncomforteble to be around a nursing mom, even if she is exposed, the more you look into God’s plan when creating our bodies, for this wonderful means of providing for our babies. I would love it if you would still be a part of our bible study, and while I can not ask (nursing mom) to cover up, I can offer you a place to sit that you will not be in direct view of it. We will also be doing a study session on the many points in the bible it talks about nursing in the future, and would love it if you came long enough to be part of this study. I hope you understand, and are not to uncomfortable in the future.

    Sincerely, your friend

  12. Tabitha

    1) Information is key. Let the breastfeeding mom know that someone took offense, that I’m okay with it, but it is an unfortunately controversial topic. Let her know that there are options to increase “modesty” (blankets, special-made cover, rearranging the furnature, mini-”privacy” block, whatever) and be as encouraging as I can.

    2) To the “offended” woman, I would request that she re-consider attendance to the Bible study. I would also ask if there was something that could be done to make her more comfortable with a breasfeeding mom in the same room (blankets, special-made cover, rearranging the furnature, mini-”privacy” block, whatever) and follow through asap. Since the “offended” woman does not have a problem with breastfeeding in general, I would not worry about reminding her that breastfeeding was more than common before “modern technology.” Keeping in mind the wishes and allowances for both women, I would do my best to come to a compromise in the situation. Where there is no compromise, I would let the “offended” woman know she is still welcome if she should choose to come, but I would not force her to be in a position that is uncomfortable for her.

    ~~

    Best wishes and prayers for the resolution!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I appreciate you taking the time to reply, but I disagree that any person should be forced to cover up if that is not how she is comfortable. If it is the nursing mother’s choice to cover, more power to her, but I would never suggest to a woman that she cover up to make someone else feel better.

  13. Since the UM already made the decision to leave the group, perhaps the MM could offer her the names of some other group leaders just for a resolution…maybe to another group of ladies she might feel more comfortable with. We don’t know why the lady was uncomfortable with seeing a woman nursing uncovered…I wouldn’t feel right about forcing the issue- as in educating, and enlightening and such…we don’t know enough background. We make the assumption that she was wrong to be uncomfortable. We are talking about a Bible study (a Christian setting), and I would (humbly) direct you to Romans 14 (which ironically refers to instances where eating offends someone). It’s easy for us to get all “up in arms” about somebody being offended at the sight of a nursing mother, but we must remember to be Christians first and “lactivists” second in situations like this.

  14. Maman A Droit   MamanADroit

    Reading through the comments, I love most of the suggestions, but I think if I were the uncomfortable mom, I would feel TERRIBLE if I decided to come back and the Bible Study later covered verses about nursing, like they were rubbing it in my face. I think it’s totally reasonable to invite her back and explain your reasons for supporting the nursing mom, and even offering resources about nursing in public, but I think that it would be taken better as a private conversation. Basically, if I were her and actually came back and the discussion at Bible Study was about breastfeeding verses, I’d be completely humiliated and feel like I was invited back just to punish me. I’d certainly never come back again after that. And I don’t think that seems like your goal at all. Anyway, she may react differently, but just trying to think of how I would react if I were her.

  15. Olivia   writeaboutbirth

    Thanks for that post! That reminds me of a nursing in public incident I had totally forgotten about! Once, when I was attending an Eastern Orthodox Lithurgy with my small (under six months) baby, she got fussy, and I decided to nurse her. A bunch of old ladies attacked me for doing that in the House of God, and said “You’re literally NOT NORMAL!”. The main priest heard this conversation, came up to us, and pointed out that there are icons of Jesus at the breast. That made them quiet!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Ok, that made me laugh out loud ;)
      So glad you will be joining us!

    • Acrophile

      Amen! Yay Father Goodguy! I go to an Eastern rite Catholic (similar to Orthodox but still in communion with Rome) church and have had ZERO problems nursing there, covered and not. When I read that ladies in an Orthodox church went off on you, I about died! I would *never* have expected that! Eastern cultures are far more understanding about that sort of thing than Western ones. Boo-hiss to the Little Old Fussbudgets!

      • Olivia   writeaboutbirth

        Yes and no… breastfeeding rates are extremely low in our country of residence, and the culture is very patriarchal. Many years of communism have also lead people to believe that sticking your nose in other peoples’ business is not merely a right, but your civil duty :). Yes, that even goes for Orthodox believers, apparently. I was extremely relieved when the priest turned up with his comments! I still felt bad about the experience, though.

  16. Olivia   writeaboutbirth

    And totally unrelated – I added your button to my blog, and can’t wait to participate in your carnival next month!

  17. Melin

    Goodness, this is tricky.

    I am reminded by the uncomfortable mom’s tactics of my kindergarten class. The approach of, “If she does this than I’m leaving.” doesn’t bode well with me. The fact that someone was using a manipulative tactic to make a hostess approach another person and risk hurting them doesn’t leave me feeling very encouraged to go to such lengths to make her feel welcome. Had this been me, and I have been in situations like this, I would try: “Oh no! I’m sorry you feel this way. We would be so sad to not have you with us, but if that is how you feel. . .” I might even talk a little bit about the child, their needs, and what a strong mother it is to do this in our society. But what to say now? I might still say the same thing but also let her know the mistake that was made in making the mom feel pressured and accused of “exposing herself.” You can suggest she talk with the mom herself, although at this point I think NM might feel a bit ganged up on even with all of the apologies. Yikes.

    I think that nursing mom needs a call back right away. Nursing is a very difficult decision for many women. Many, many want to do it, but have so many obstacles that can be so difficult to overcome. Getting a call that she should care for her child differently is taking issue not only with breastfeeding but her very core as a mother/parent. Ugh, if I got that call, I wouldn’t go back. It certainly wouldn’t feel like the group for me.

    I don’t know if I would take up a call of BFing awareness in this situation. I would definitely make an issue of standing behind the NM, by simply apologizing for allowing the manipulation to go so far and making her feel badly in any way.

    Being a hostess is difficult. If there was an issue of language, or behaviors that were truly offensive than of course you should put your foot down. But this setting has an element of public in it and excluding a nursing mom or making her cover up could have some negative consequences that reach farther than hurt feelings, especially if she were to make an issue of it herself.

  18. Well, call me opinionated but I would let the breastfeeding mum do her thing and simply say to the offended lady “well, I’m sorry you felt that way. please know you are welcome back any time”. If she directly asked me to tell the breastfeeding mother to cover up, I would gently say “No, I can’t do that. In my home breastfeeding is nothing to cover up and it would be hypocritical of me to suggest otherwise.” My home, my rules.

    As someone early on in this discussions said: You can’t please everyone. So for me, I’ll pick the one I want to please (and thus support) and feel sorry for the ones who can’t be pleased…

  19. Acrophile

    Dionna, is it OK if I post a link (assuming I can make it work) to my leaflet here, in case Hostess Mama wants to use it?

  20. Middle Mom

    I feel that I should correct a few assumptions that have been made…
    -First, this Bible study is not connected with a church group. I invited the ladies from my mother’s board to join me in my home for a Bible study.
    -Second, our children do attend the Bible study and UM had a 4 year old son in the room while NM was nursing. And I think this is part of what made her uncomfortable.
    -Third, UM did not approach me to “fix” the situation. She is a good friend of mine and knew that I would question her about why she wasn’t coming anymore and was attempting to explain that it was not “my fault” so to say.
    -Fourth, I have already apologized to NM for the way I handled the situation and she has agreed to continue attending and cover-up. While I believe she is still a little uncomfortable she also does not want to cause an issue.
    -Fifth, I am not certain that NM breastfeeds uncovered in public…she simply felt comfortable enough in my home (because I try to make everyone comfortable in my home) to not feel the need to cover-up.
    -Sixth, I have not decided what ‘the rules’ regarding breastfeeding in my home are because the issue has never risen before.
    -Seventh, having never breast-fed myself I did not realize that covering-up could cause a problem with breast-feeding (ie the child being uncomfortable etc), so this never even occurred to me.

    I greatly appreciate Sharon Temple’s understanding of the UM’s position and acknowledgement of the “wrong” that she felt was done to her & giving a way to approach her with a Biblical perspective to addressing “wrongs”.

    I think the idea of giving UM some information is great, except that I do not really think she is wrong. That is why this position is so hard for me…I have rules in my home that are set in stone…My dog does not go upstairs, children only eat & drink in the dining room/kitchen, guests do not go in my daughter’s room only her play room, smoking is not allowed, etc.

    While I agree that NM should be able to breastfeed her child (even uncovered if she wishes) is it really so wrong for me to have “rules” regarding this as well?
    In this situation we are not discussing a “public” place…we are talking about my home. Certainly things that are legal are often not allowed in the privacy of one’s home (see house rules listed above).

    I also found She Bear’s perspective quite interesting…it is so true that we play the “make everyone happy game” all too often and I am ALWAYS guilty of this.
    However, I do not feel that my friend is looking for an excuse not to attend and do not foresee another issue arising.
    I do agree that NM’s actions were above reproach, but I also do not think that UM did anything wrong.

    All I can say to Andrea is THANK-YOU. These small notes perfectly address both sides of the issue and I appreciate the delicate wording greatly!

    Perhaps, NM should be able to nurse uncovered anywhere she wishes (as this is law), but if she chooses to cover-up or feed in another room to appease someone who is uncomfortable doesn’t this speak volumes about her character? She has chosen to lay down her wishes for another’s and isn’t this exactly what Christ calls us to do? On the other hand, if UM chooses to overlook something that offends her because of her love of the other mother this also speaks volumes about her.

    I would also like to mention that I believe that people with opposing views can get along and it need not turn into the battle that differences often lead to…and I feel that this is my God-given opportunity to avoid an all-out war between the moms in my mother’s group.

    It is VERY rare that I meet a friend that can believe I am TOTALLY wrong and even be offended by my actions, but continue to be my friend. I strive to be this person…As Christ was able to connect with prostitutes & persecutioners AND even bring them to peace through Him I pray that I can take two women who see things so completely differently and help them to be able to love one another in spite of their seemingly insurmountable differences.

    I appreciate every perspective you wonderful ladies have offered and look forward to reading further thoughts on this issue.

    THANKS!

    • A.G.

      NM is awesome! Like her I would not have thought much about nursing uncovered in my friends home either.
      I think UM should take this chance to explain to her young son what breast are really for, so he can grow up knowing they are not just for guys to look at(or other things). I know I try to help my kids understand that they need to be modest, but also what breast are for. I nurse uncovered in front of my kids & would have no problem with someone else doing the same. That said, if it were a teenage son, then I would cover, so he would be comfortable.
      I hope these 2 moms can get to know each other better & have a great friendship. Like you said we can have different opinions on things & still be friends.

      Thank you for taking the time to reply & help us all understand better. God is smiling down on you right now for the great example you are being.

  21. Casey   CBerbs

    If you were asking my advice, I think this is what I would do.

    First, I would call the NIP mom and get together with her. I think uncomfortable situations are best handled in person. Apologize. Tell her whatever is true for you. YOu didn’t know what to say, you are sorry, whatever you are feeling.

    Second, I would get together with the uncomfortable mom and let her know that you understand why she stopped coming. Tell her that she is welcome to return at any time and let her know you’d like to see her in other circumstances if that’s true.

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