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Any Noe Valley/Glen Park 1St-3rd Graders Looking to Play with a Fun 2Nd Gr. Boy?

We've been in the city now a little over a year, moved from the East Bay suburbs with a big yard, a court full of kids & a mom's group with constant playdates. My son misses seeing kids (he's an only) regularly at or around home. There are A LOT of babies in this area, but we have yet to meet any kids around his age- maybe because he attends 2nd grade in Pacifica. But, we'd still love to play & make friends.

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Sounds like she might be doing it so that the child can't spend the night with you and dad.

I have heard that if a child doesn't leanr to soothe themselves while they are young that it will be a difficult thing to do later.

I don't have any advice,but an opinion.something seems to be wrong with this,maybe morally wrong.but i don't know the circumstances of why it is being done.i agree with you!

Personally I can understand breastfeeding up until they are a year, maybe even a little older for nutritional reasons, but I've never understood the older child either.

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Sounds like there's alot going on here .First a divorce to adjust to and a 'new' person called 'mom'. It is sad that the nine year old is being branded for his adjustment. I would not attribute all these things to long term breast feeding.

Your step children are being mothered in a way that is different from what is considered 'normal' in this society - but in other societies this would not be considered so very different. If you do a little research you'll discover that - read some La Leche materials. I nursed all my kids till they were 3 - 31/2. My grandmother from this country nursed her son till 4 years and tells stories of others who went longer. I interviewed the women in my Ex husbands village in the middle East. For the women raising children BEFORE formula or 'maturna" as they call it - long term nursing was the norm not the exception. And from my own research of other cultures that is / was also pervasive around the world proir to formula.

Personally I feel we are backward here in how 'unattached' we are to our children.It was one of the things the native people here thought was very disconcerting about the european settlers- how harshly the children were treated and if you read up you'll see qoutes of europeans talking about how 'spoiled' they thought the native children here were. because the europeans hit their kids and that was not a usual practice in this country pre-colonization.

Why is there such an expectation of these kids sudden embrace of something that is so hard for them ? It may realistically take years. This mother is mothering in her way - she birthed these children and is raising them as she sees fit - they are her children. Live and let live - You obviously come from very different perspetives - trying to control her relationship with her kids is going to make everyone's life miserable. What is your purpose here? - build a relationship with these kids by respecting them and their mother. It will be slow - it would be slow ANYWAY. Bravo for them that they have a mother who cares about them so deeply. Open your own mind - work on what you have to offer them- instead of judging where they come from. It will unleash the creativity needed to relate to them.

R.

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Hi Suzannah ~
Wow, this sounds like a tough situation for you all. Kudos to you for seeking help with this ~ your stepkids are lucky to have you for a stepmom. Children react differently when their parents divorce, then remarry. Have you spoken with the mom regarding this? I hope she understands what is going on and is helpful.

Since I am a supporter of child-led weaning, I have a couple of suggestions ~ how about a "lovey" to help him cope with being away from mom? This can be a shirt from mom, that smells like her or a special blanket that they use to snuggle together that he can take with him. Also, how about just bringing him closer to you and your husband when it's bed time at your home ~ a little nest on the floor close by you both might make him feel better. It might just be separation anxiety that's causing these outbursts.

Breastfeeding beyond infancy does provide more than nutrition in the long run ~ I believe it would help the younger son deal with what's happening around him. The older son might be acting the way he is because of the emotions that come when parents separate ~ he should probably try some counseling.

I hope you find support and ideas that work for you ~ wishing you and your family a peaceful resolution!

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You are concerned for the wellbeing of this child, which is a good start. Now, I believe that the most important thing to do NEXT in this case is to keep the needs and perspective of this child front and center. Blended families are tough on everyone at times, but the little ones feel it most keenly. This is a time for all of the adults in the situation to put aside their frustrations,viewpoints/opinions, insecurities, etc... and do what is best for the kid.

Breastfeeding (feeding, whatever method really, in my opinion) is not only for nourishment of the body, but is also a nourishment of the emotional wellbeing of a child. It is really common for people to breastfeed well beyond one year, and actually it has been found to FOSTER connected independent children in general, rather than insecure, inappropriately "needy" individuals, as is a equally as common misconception. The decision when to stop is between the mother and the child, and needs to be respected. You may feel that the continuation of the feeding is at the mother's insistence, but just by the fact that this child is still asking to suck, indicates that it is mutual. It is true I believe that sometimes people can get so tied up in whatever parenting styles, sometimes verging on dogmas, that they follow, that they don't pay attention to the cues of the child that THEY are ready to transition, but as long as the child is still asking, again indicates that they still want and need it.

Now, as a step-parent faced with an agitated child, and wanting them to become comfortable in your family structure, I can empathize how challenging this can be. Especially if you have some unresolved feelings, and/or disappointments, acknowledged or unacknowledged, about your own breastfeeding relationship(s) with your kids. But I would caution to not let your particularly shaped feelings/ideas about the subject be imposed on this vulnerable child. His wanting to breastfeed is NOT a rejection of you, it is simply his need to be comforted and attached to an entity that will make him feel safe and cared for. Think of it as a buoy in a storm. This is NOT suprising in a time that is very insecure, such as divorce and blending of families, different houses and rituals, etc...

YOU can work out other rituals in your home that can foster this relationship and security, such as a special book you read together, or song, etc... This is not about being fed, this is about being loved and kept secure!

It may not be easy, but the health of the child will bless your family for many years to come, if you can rise above what is indeed a very difficult situation, and your personal investment in it.

Hope this helps!

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There is nothing weird or unhealthy about breastfeeding at this age. The World Health Organization lists the average age for weaning between 2 and 6 years old and this is not uncommon in most of the world. In the United States the breast has been turned into a sexual object instead of what it was made for, nourishing the physical and emotional health of our children. In fact, there is more evidence to support that weaning a child before he or she is ready can be detrimental than extended breastfeeding. Children who are breastfed, even through this age, are actually more independent and can even have a higher IQ. However, since the mother cannot be with the child at all times, it is alright to provide an alternative to this comfort, perhaps with a special toy/blanket, or a special bedtime routine when he is at your house. But the decision to wean should only be between the mother and the child. There is some great information regarding this on mothering.com.

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I agree it's no longer warranted and the mother is most likely doing it for her own needs/insecurities after age 2.5 -3 yrs. The children do not need the nutrition. She may be trying to keep herself as the "most important person/parent" to her children now that the she is divorced. She probably is not letting her children develop their age appropriate independance because of her own emotional needs/issues. It would be your husbands place to address this, and not yours. You should express your thoughts to him, but he needs to address his ex wife and find out why she does it and if a solution can be worked out. She will not be any less of a mother just because she weaned them from breastfeeding.

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Some children need the extra bonding which affords breastfeeding. It is a very personal decision between a mother and her child and only they together can find that place where it's time to stop. My daughter is three years old and she just recently quit, because I was done, not her. She also seems to have some sensory processing issues, which sometimes goes with the insecure child who will not wean. Good luck, and try to keep an open mind about it although I know it can be odd to some:}
Shauna R

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Although I can only imagine how you must feel -- him needing his mommy like that, when dad has part custody -- he really does need his mom, and she must be a wonderful mom to nurse so long.
Longterm breastfeeding is good for children, not bad, and it doesn't make them needy. The oldest is probably just a needy child for other reasons. Divorce is really hard on children. Just because it has become the "norm" in our society, it doesn't mean that anything about it is "normal" for children. It still means a "broken" home, no matter how young they were when it happened.
So don't condemn this mother too much, and realize that it is indeed healthy, both physiologically and psychologically, to nurse a child until they wean themselves.
I'm sorry you only got to breastfeed for four months. Milk does not technically "dry up" -- the more a baby nurses the more milk you make, especially if you drink enough liquids and eat healthy food! This is a common misconception that even doctors go along with.
Try to stick it out -- he actually will outgrow his need to nurse and give it up on his own. He will be a better adjusted child. Just love him and don't push, and he will eventually feel just as secure at your house as at mom's. Good luck!

A little about me: I'm a mom of grown children, and a child development specialist/college instructor.

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Kudos to your stepson's mother! It is actually entirely normal for children to breastfeed up to ages four or five, and this is the standard throughout most of the world. What's not really normal for a three year old is to be separated from his mother for overnight visits elsewhere, so naturally he will react to that.

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Actually, extended breastfeeding is becoming more normal and accepted in this country, as it is in other countries. Most of my friends with children nursed them until at least age 3, some until age 4 or beyond. None of the kids I know who have been breastfed for that long are exhibiting any sort of strange dependence issues. They are all healthy, happy, independent little ones. I would think that your stepson is struggling with issues related to the divorce and having to sleep in different places under different circumstances. Children that age often have a strong need for routine. If he's used to nursing to sleep every night, of course he will be upset if that routine is disrupted! It's like asking him to go to sleep without his favorite teddy bear, the thing that's most comforting and reassuring to him. My son, who is almost 3 and still nursing, has no problem with 9-hour days at daycare but is adamant about his routines at home. In short, I think your stepson needs special understanding and gentle care around the divorce and the changes in his life, but I don't think it's likely that extended nursing is causing psychological problems for him.

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Hi there,
I have been reading all the responses and what I find disturbing is that most say that since you are not the mother, you should stay out of it. I Totaly disagree, you are in these childrens lives, you are with their father. It is your business. If something was to happen to him, are you supposed to just sit back and say "oh,I'm not going to do anything, he's not my child"? I dont think so. If you are concerned enough by something that is going on in their lives then that only shows that you care. I can understand your concern, just because your are "not the mother" doesnt mean you should stay out of it as someone responded, you are in the childs life, so you are a mother figure. I myself have two kids, my oldest I breastfed for a few months until she gave it up and my second I tried to breastfeed and she didnt want anything to do with it at all. I think its great to breastfeed and dont see anything wrong with it at all. But there has to be a point were a child is old enough to move on. It sounds like it may be more for her than for him if he eating regular things just fine. It sounds like you and your husband needs to have a talk with her again. I have twin nephews that are 3 1/2 and I cant imagine them being this old and still on the breast. Little boys that age should be running around playing etc., not begging for a "suck". I know of someone that breastfed her child until he was six and in kindergarden. She would actually go to the school even to feed him. A lot of the kids even at that age would make fun of him all the time. So it can do damage (emotionaly and mentaly) for kids if they are older. Sounds like you care a lot about them and I hope everything works out. Good Luck

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First off, I teach human development and cultural anthropology at the university level, and I want you to know that, world wide, it is much more common for mothers to breastfeed into the toddler years (up to age 6) than to stop before age one. In fact, the U.S. is an anomaly in this arena, as babies are breastfed far less frequently and for less time than even in other developed nations. So there is nothing *inherently* wrong with breastfeeding to this age and absolutely no research that shows that breastfeeding to age 3 or 4 or 5 makes children any more or less dependent or insecure.

That being said, your situation sounds difficult because of the shared parenting and the child's understandable preference for falling asleep at the breast. Do you and your husband and the boy's mother have a good enough relationship that you could talk together about how to help the child fall asleep when his mom is not there? Can you explain to the mom (in a way that does not judge her for her decision to continue breastfeeding) that you worry that the child's options to stay with his father are limited because of this and maybe strategize about how to help the child sleep in her absence or even talk about when she thinks she might be ready to stop breastfeeding so that you two can plan for when the boy will be able to stay at your place more easily? Because you and your husband cannot control whether or not the child's mother choses to continue breastfeeding, the only solutions I can think of are things that really require all parents to be on board together. That will be difficult to do if you and your husband are taking the stance of judging her parenting choices.

Good luck.
S.

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Yes, it is normal. And yes, you are naive. I think that if you have not had the experience of extended breastfeeding, it would be very hard to comprehend. You might try reading up on it. kellymom.com is a good online resource. "Mothering your Nursing Toddler" is another. I have 3 children. My oldest nursed for 26 mos, the second until she was 3 yrs 4 mos, and the youngest turns 3 yrs old tomorrow and is still nursing. At this point it is pretty much just at bedtime and is a great source of comfort. The GLOBAL norm for weaning is 4 yrs, and the World Health Organization recommends 2 yrs. Forcing him to stop something that is very nurturing during this time of stress with divorce and new family and all would be mean. Sorry. I have 6 stepkids who have a very contentious mother, so I really do understand difficult blended family situations. I have been in that mix for 13 yrs. My best advice is to NOT do anything to harm the child's relationship with his mother. Think of the child. Try for a moment to put yourself in his shoes, or envision YOUR child in a similar situation with a stepmom. Chances are he will not be nursing for more than 2 additional years, and if you are with his father for life, believe me when I say 2 years is but a drop in the bucket. You will be so much more appreciated for being thoughtful and understanding as the nature of his relationship with his mom than you would be if you created a huge ruckus over something you "question" as being inappropriate or manipulative or in danger of making him overly-attached.

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WOW!? Yea, I do not think it is okay at that age!?! I am a mother of 3 and breast fed for one year. My youngest is 9 months and I am still nursing him, just in evenings and at night when i am off work. My husband feeds him formula during the day. But, even now (and with my other kids) at 9months, he is very aware and I am looking forward to weaning him completely. He eats solids and slowly but surely BY ONE YEARS OLD he will be done with nursing. I can NOT imagine having my 2 yr old, 3, 4, 5 Year Old, sucking on my boob?? That seems very psychologically damaging to me! They need to feel independent and nursing off of another person's body is definitely DEPENDENT..... I know a lot of other mom's are "child led weening" and think it's okay........but if it were me, I would try anything to get her to stop. Even if it was to open a case and go to family court regarding child custody! I would feel like the child was being psychologically and emotionally damaged by the other parent and fight for custody or fight for the mom to be given SERVICES such as parenting classes and/or therapy!

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In many countries people breastfeed their babies for along time. It is only in our country that it is frowned upon. I personally would not breastfeed for that long but as a breastfeeding mom that loves the closeness with my child I can understand why some moms take longer to wean their children.

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I breast fed both my kids until they were four. They are now healthy, secure, daring, intelligent, and socially succesful kids in elementary and middle school. It is okay, kids do stop breastfeeding eventually. It's nice for the child. let it be.

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What's so hard to comprehend, he's getting the best emotional bonding one could imagine.
You might want to investigate Native cultures where this is common and how peaceful many of them are, some that being attributed to this long and loving connection with their mama source.
Unfortunately your body didn't give you permission to keep this bond going longer, but you might want to redirect your concerns to you and why it would affect you at all.

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If you do a little research (just google breasfeeding a toddler) and you will find out that there is no harm done by nursing, rather the contrary. This is something you need to stay out off.

T.

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To me and most people in the United States that is a little disturbing. I think the mom may be doing for her own needs not the childs.

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Hi Suzannah,

Like many others on this site, I breastfed my son (now 26 months) until around 21 months. I should point out, however, that my reason for weaning him (and it definitely took some weaning) was not because he had reached a certain age, or I no longer thought it appropriate, but because his bossy/demanding nature made me want to clear up exactly to whom these boobies belong! :-)

I think I may have a unique - if not interesting - perspective to offer on this issue for a different reason. I, myself, was nursed regularly until age 3 and did not stop asking to nurse occassionaly until closer to 7! I know what you are thinking... it sounds completely bizzar! However, I can happily report that I was always very well adjusted child and to this point have been a successful adult.

I was very social, outgoing and popular all through elementary, middle and high school; I have always been a confident risk taker; I was highly intellegent and excelled academically; I earned full academic scholarships at each of the 6 universities to which I applied and had similar success when applying to graduate schools 4 years later; as an adult, I continue to make friends easily and be comfortable in new situations.

I remain very close to my mother, but not abnormally so. While extended breatfeeding is not for every parent and child (I couldn't have continued as long with my son) it certainly worked for my mother and I. If there are other things in the dynamic between your stepson and his mother that are uncomfortable, I would focus your concern there. I just don't think extended breastfeeding ought to be the litmus test for appropriate parenting.

HTH,
T.

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Honestly. I think it is no ones business but the Mothers. I don't understand why it's so gross, kids can watch worse on a TV commercial. The poor child has to deal with his father leaving him and then marrying another woman. I'm sure the comfort of his mommies milk helps releive the pain of feeling left by his daddy. I think nursing is a very personal thing and how ever long a mother chooses to nurse her child is completely up to her. I think you may want to just leave it be. Let the mother nurse her son.

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Breastfeeding is probably not the problem. It might be other boundary issues around bedtime, sleeping routines, separation anxiety. Breastfeeding doesn't cause anxiety in kids, its actually a great way to build confidence. Clearly you both have a very different nursing experience but neither is the better way.

My feeling is that when I help care for someone else's child, I ask them what works while they are gone and try to match up as best I can. I only got to breastfeed my first child until 2yrs old and he's the warmest sweetest kid. He probably would have been anyway but it was my choice and I was lucky enough to have the choice. My second child was allergic to everything but breast milk, I mean everything. Formula made him really ill. I even had to buy breast milk from a milk bank to supplement when I couldn't produce enough myself. Finally, we stopped at 16 months whe he could begin to drink goat's milk and my job made nursing nearly impossible. It makes me sad since I attribute many of his current allergies to stopping before 2 yrs old.

Anyway, Her kids will be fine. They will not be breastfeeding forever. Really.

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I can see that it's a challenge given the family situation, but there really isn't anything wrong with extended breastfeeding. It's normal, if not common in the US. It's not true that there are no nutritional or emotional benefits. My advice would be that this is one of the challenges that come with blended families and small children. Could you work on creating your own special night time routines?

It might be even more important for the little one to feel secure through nursing given the changing routines in his life. Being forced to stop might be even more stressful for him. You can do some reading on extended breastfeeding, at Mothering Magazine. www.kellymom.com has culled lots of research on breastfeeding. They just did an article on it a few issues back, I think.

p.s., in case there is another baby in your plans, there are measures you can take to prevent "drying up" and supplements that you can take if you do notice a decrease in your supply (those worked wonders for me)

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What i don't understand is all these mother's who feel it is "disgusting and there is something wrong" yet in our society it is the norm to see a 5 or 6 year old walking around sucking on a bottle or pacifier...and that is ok? No, that is disgusting! There are many benefits to nursing beyond the first year for both the child and the mother.

I really don't think it is your responsibility to judge the childs mother. Though you are now married to his father and you are his step mother it is still her choice as to whether she wants to continue to breastfeed. If you and his father want him to be able to spend the night you need to come up with something that comforts him in your home and i can guarantee that is not going to be putting him in a room, telling him he needs to go to sleep and letting him scream and cry for 3 hours. Find something that comforts him there, a blanket, a toy, a warm cup of milk and maybe rock him. He is use to being close to his mother when he falls asleep most likely.

I no longer nurse my son and haven't in 10 months but he still needs the comfort of laying next to mommy, his head on my shoulder and sometimes having his back rubbed to fall asleep.

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I think that is great that his mother is able to breastfeed him as long as he wants. I'm pretty sure that the insecurity is not related to breastfeeding at all. You can check la leche league website or kelly mom website for more information:

http://www.kellymom.com/
http://www.llli.org/

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whoa, don't judge this mom. she probably already feels isolated in sticking to her decision. there is nutritional value (a lot of it!) and emotional value for nursing toddlers. My son still nurses and he is almost two and I'm pregnant!! I will allow him to tandem nurse as well along side his sibling. Please read over the post about nursing in other parts of the world to age 6 and historically, think about it - if you like the human race - none of us would be here without breastfeeding.
just my friendly two cents : )

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Hi Suzannah,

There is nothing wrong with a mother to breastfeeding her child as long as every body is happy with this. I thought of breastfeding my own son at least until 2, but I had no time for myself and was very tired, so we took advantage of a weekend away with his dad and siblings to wean him. Although he still wanted to be nursed, he accepted the situation without major difficulties. He's turning soon 3 and he's still very attached to the my breast.
Sometimes I think that if he had stopped breastfeeding by himself, because he wouldn't have been interested anymore, he wouldn't be as attached to my breast for comfort now.
There is a lot of litterature out there about the benefits from breastfeeding a toddler, about the comfort and intimacy between the mother and her child, about confidence and even health.
No title comes up in my mind now ,but check it out in a library for example.
I'm also a stepmom, and I know it is not easy for children and parents to share parenting.
I don't know who's taking more care of your stepson, but he seems to be fine and not _ overly attached to his mom- from what you said.
Although you're part of his education, the mother has a say about this matter. All the parents participate in discipline and guidance, but only the mother- with hopefully the agreement of the father - really decides about how to bond with her son.
If you don't understand why your stepson and his mother want to keep breastfeeding between them, I guess, you can still let it be and agree to disagree.

My name is S., I'm 44, come from France and live with my 2 year old son Liam, his siblings (Celia, 14 and Zachary, 11) and their father Setven. I'm also a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator.

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Hi Suzannah!

I have seen this in public before and was taken back by it. But, it obviously works for your step-children.

My advice is about being a stepmom, and hopefully a successful one. You didn't mention if you were married to this man, or not.

I am a stepmom of 2, and mother of 2 more. My husband and I have been together 13 years, and married for 6 of them. Blending families is NOT easy, and 13 years ago, I would've LOVED to have had something like Mamasource!

The most valuable thing I learned, is that no matter how "small" the situation may be involving your husbands children, it is YOUR HUSBAND'S decision as to how to handle things. You just have to follow through his wishes. For the most part, anyway. Don't get me wrong, if "his kids" hit "your kids" then you have to react. BUT, in situations that involve his ex-wife....the mother of his kids...your marriage/partnership is better off with you "supporting" him. It doesn't mean you have to agree, and it doesn't mean you are not allowed to express yourself to your husband. It only means that your stepkids should NEVER know any "negative" you feel about their mother.

13 years later.....I have my stepkids respect 100%. And they treat me with more respect (now) than their mother. Because I was patient and loving ALWAYS! Even when they were trying to "pull out info" that they could run back and tell their mom. I never gave in, and always said nice things....even about their mother. Now, truth be told, I cannot stand their mother, never did and never will! BUT my stepkids don't know that. They never will. My husband knows how I feel, and in the process, I have gained even more respect from him just by "sticking around" for 13 years, and doing what was truly best for the kids. To this day, my stepkids come to me first whenever they need someone to talk "serious with". They trust me first, over all their "other parents". They send me cards for my Birthday/Valentine's Day without anyone reminding them. They call me JUST to say HI. Things like that don't just happen for early 20 year olds. I know....I WAS one! They are now just "adult enough" to be in touch with what I had to go through in order to simply love their daddy.

Patience, Suzannah. If you really love this man, be patient and love his children. Accept them for who and what they are, and only that.

As for the breastfeeding thing...who cares???????? it's not your child!

:o) N.

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Extended breastfeeding is NORMAL and okay. It will not make the child more dependant on the mother. I have four kids 2 of whom I breastfed until well after 3 yrs. They are no less outgoing than the two who only breastfed for thier first year. Your step son's mother has chosen to nurture her kids in a way that mothers throughout time and across cultures have. Please do not villify her for it. instead of blaming her for the 3 yr old's discomfort at going to bed in a strange house/bed with new cicumstances, perhaps you can all work together to ease his fears and help him feel more comfotable in his father's new home. Divorce is really hard on kids.
Good luck

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Dear Suzannah,

It is good that you care and want to see both your stepsons doing well in all aspects fo their lives. Unfortunately this is one area you cannot get into.

This is truly between your husband and his first wife. If the breastfeeding is effecting how much time he has with his son it could be an issue he could bring up with his ex-wife privately. Unfortuantely some mothers think that breastfeeding for many years is ok but I think after a certain age is really inappropriate and emotionally hurtful to the child. This might be a way for the mom to still have a dependant relationship with the son and she may not be able to give that up yet.

I would suggest that you stay out of the issue but talk to your husband about it.

I hope it all works out for you all.

N.

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The benefits of breastfeeding never stop. There was just an article on this in Mothering magazine. If breastfeeding is still working for mom and baby, then I say go for it.

I would suggest, however, that the 'insecure and dependent' behaviors of the first child have nothing to do with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been shown to actually have the opposite effect on children. Perhaps that is more the result of stress from watching his parents' marriage breakdown and eventually end.

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You know, I will get some flack for this because I know that there are more than a few mothers on this website that believe in breast-feeding a child indefinitely, or until they "choose" to give it up themselves -- but as a parent, a teacher, and a psychologist I find breast-feeding beyond the age of two highly inappropriate. No one will argue that a child of that age actually needs the breast milk for nutrition (not including special situations), and in this case, it seems as if the separation anxiety is wholly on the part of the mother who obviously has some issues of her own in terms of appropriate parenting skills. If breast-feeding is the only way she is able to feel she can bond with her children, then there is something seriously wrong with her relationships with her sons, and with herself. It may be because of something traumatic that happened in her past in terms of her bonding relationship with her own parents, or a lack of education in what is appropriate and what is not, but prolonged breast-feeding can cause some very serious social issues for children.
This behavior is NOT normal, neither medically or psychologically. Even in many third world countries where breast milk may be an infant or toddlers sole source of nutrition in the first years of life, you will not often find a child breast-feeding into preschool age/childhood because the behavior is not socially appropriate among most cultures in society. Unfortunately, these children are not your children and their mother will do what she thinks is right, regardless of what anyone thinks. Her children may suffer from a variety of issues as a result of this, or they may not. The fact that she is continuing this breast-feeding past the age of what is considered normal or recommended by pediatricians leads me to believe that her parenting skills may be backwards or lacking in other areas as well.

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it's the best thing she can do. Most mothers should breast feed their children as long as they can. He is building an amunity to most everything. My daughters did the same thing. I was shocked at first, but soon found out how good it was for the child.
don't worry about it. Take care of yourself.

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Hi Suzannah,

I can offer my own experience. I am 27, but when I was a child my mom breastfed me until I was 4 and then intermittently until I was 6. I never knew any different until I got older and found out that other people don't all breastfeed so long. My parents got divorced when I was 4 to 5 years old, so it was a comfort during those times as well. I was also on www.laleche.com recently and saw that the World Health Organization recommends, and other cultures breastfeed much longer than the U.S. When available, breast milk is extremely nutritious and FREE! I've met with people who are very uncomfortable with it on principal, or believe that the children will be somehow developmentally or socially stunted because of being connected to the mother for so long, but I can only speak to what I read and my own experience, that it is completely natural and healthy. I have always been very independent and social and have never had any reason to think that being breastfed for so long has had anything but beneficial effects.
I am not yet a mother, so I cannot speak with too much authority on the 3 1/2 year old's behavior, but it sounds like any comfort, like a 'blanky' that a child wants before going to bed that they get anxious about.

Hope this helps!
M.

1 mom found this helpful

Many cultures other than here in the US breastfeed until the age of 5. I would suggest you do some reading by Sears. He and his wife have several good books about raising children. Hope this helps. Good luck. D. Parker, L.Ac.

1 mom found this helpful

Personally I can understand breastfeeding up until they are a year, maybe even a little older for nutritional reasons, but I've never understood the older child either.

Breastfeeding is a mother's choice and doesn't cause the problems you are discussing... Divorce and remarriage is a LOT more damaging than breastfeeding.... Listen to Dr, Laura or check out her website...

I have breastfed all of my kids until over 1 year, but none over 18months because we both got tired.... This may be a way for mom and son to feel bonded because of the divorce...

You need to be consistent with a calm bedtime ritual for him when he is with you... milk has endorphins that help him sleep.

It is definitely a mother's choice, but my opinion is that it is not appropriate to breastfeed a child past the age of 2. If you would like to give your child the benefits of breast milk, why not pump and give them a bottle while holding the child? I would think that by doing this you could still provide the benefits without having to deal with any of these issues. Just a thought.

I don't have any advice,but an opinion.something seems to be wrong with this,maybe morally wrong.but i don't know the circumstances of why it is being done.i agree with you!

Don't worry, its totaly normal and he will be fine.

We all know the benefits of breastfeeding, but in my opinion the age when these benefits begin to wane is at the latest between 2 and 3 yrs. Sure, women in other countries go longer because this is the best nutrition they can give their children in a place where food may not be in plentiful supply. To keep it going here in this country where every kind of nutrition is readily available is purely an emotional request. Prehaps having a chat with her about the best way to handle this would help, you just want the best for the boy and prehaps the mother is doing it to offer comfort about the recent change (divorce?). This may be the hard adjustment the older one is going through as well. Offer lots of love and if you can, include the mother as part of your extended family, invite her over to nurse him if need be, who cares what they do? she is the mother of her kids, and you of yours. Marrying a man with kids brings a lot of baggage, just be a good sport and go with the flow!

OK, ready for some harsh words? You have no control in this situation. The best thing you can do is stay out of it and always act in a way that is truly in the best interest of the child-not your role as the wife of his dad, female head of household, mother of other kids in his dad's house.

Look at the dynamic here: a three year-old child has a dad who is subdivided by a new family and not around except on scheduled "visits", a mom who thinks that exended breast feeding is a good thing for her child (regardless of the opinion of others), a step-family that is hugely impacted by the other factors listed, and a situation that is making it impossible to have a small amount of time with his dad.

This situation is really between your husband and his ex-wife, and it is his responsibilty to his child to sort it out. By sorting it out I mean the child's parents must come to a workable solution that allows this child to have meaningful contact with his father, which at this point is impossible. The important thing in approaching this very emotional situation is the emphasis on acting in a way that benefits the child. By approaching it this way, the breastfeeding is less emphasized (but still at the center of the issue) and the relationship that the child needs with his father is more emphasized.

It may come to a point that lawyers and the courts have to be involved, but it can probably be sorted out through mediation.

Again, approach it from the point of view that this is a barrier to a father son relationship rather than a person who is doing something you or your husband think is weird, and things will go more smoothly.

I completely agree with Nicole P's response. Once a couple divorces, they have very little say about what goes on in their ex-spouse's house, unless they suspect real abuse. I think your instincts are dead-on -- the ex-wife has some real boundary issues; in this country kids don't need breast milk for nutrition into the preschool years and the frantic need for the breast as comfort item isn't all that healthy. But, luckily for you, it isn't your problem. And there isn't thing one your husband can do about it either. It takes one good parent to raise a well-adjusted kid. With your support, your husband can easily be that one good parent. Easier to do when you let go of worrying about things you can't control anyway.
You've got good instincts and these kids are going to be fine. For little guys, remember that frequency is more important than duration, so if the little guy needs to sleep at mom's, that's ok. It won't last forever and then you'll have him in a calmer, saner environment for longer periods of time.

Sounds like an attachment issue, of the mother. After 1 year the baby is no longer getting the nutrition and it becomes merely the fact of a mother who is a little too attached to the bonding time. I am not sure if there is anything you can personally do, but some one needs to encourage the mother to let go of this.

i too as the mothers below, am a huge believer in breastfeeding. i never thought i'd go beyond a year but all of my kids went past that one year mark.... but the longest was two months shy of her 2nd birthday.. i was done, she was done.. but a quick story on how i was in your same shoes, but with a stranger.. we were flying home from a family vacation.. our flight was delayed so sitting in the airport..i see this woman feeding her kids m&m's... didn't think anything of it.. but since we had kids about the same age we starting talking... she was still nursing her 4 year old and 6 year old.. the only way she could keep them from asking in public was with candy. i was just shocked. i've always tried very hard to make even my infants appropriately behave in public when it came to nursing. not everyone is for it.. but this was over the top. i think your husband needs to talk to his babies momma and put his foot down. this is his child too.. and needs to help make the choices in his life. nursing should NEVER interfear in time spent with either parents. does he take a bottle as well? no matter what, i guarantee this will be a fight ... you are not wrong in being concerned. your not wrong in wanting to helpt hat child for his future.

Lots of interesting responses here, so I'm just gonna wade right in. I agree breastfeeding has its benefits. No question there. But seriously, at that age? People don't give their kids formula at that age, so I don't buy the argument that this is for nutritional reasons. I know that women in developing countries breastfeed for a long time, but we don't live in a developing country. We live in a country where nutritious food is plentiful and affordable. So it seems to me that the mom is still breastfeeding because her son has never had to comfort himself, and so does not know how to fall asleep by himself. That is a whole separate issue from breastfeeding. She can breastfeed until he's old enough to vote, for all I care, but this business of him not being able to sleep without breastfeeding has got to stop.

I think that the mom owes it to her little boy to help him learn to comfort himself, by himself, when it is time for bed. (And if the mom won't help him, you should do what you can to help him.) Pretty soon he will go to preschool or kindergarten, and if he is unable to comfort himself, he will be picked on by the other kids. (I had to stop my own daughter from calling a little boy a "baby" for crying - my daughter is normally a good kid, so it goes to show that kids can be so mean, even the good ones!) That can have long-lasting effects, which I think you are seeing in the older boy. We all owe it to our kids not to parent them in such a way that will cause them to be the butt of other children's jokes - whether it's not helping them learn to self-comfort, or dressing them funny, or whatever. Being that you see this child is having a hard time comforting himself, and you are concerned for his well-being, I say absolutely do what you can to help him learn to self-comfort. It will serve him well in life to have that skill. Just my two cents.

You are not naive Suzannah.. I too, breast fed my daughter up until about 3 months for the same reasons my milk dried and my daughter was losing weight.

However my aunt breast fed her son and daughter until they were a little over 3 years old then she stopped but It wasnt until a doctor diagnosed her with mental depression. My family thought my aunts breast feeding was disgusting and strange. She was suffering from post partum depression lasted for years and maybe even longer if help hadnt been seeked.

I suggest your husband NOT YOU and some of the mothers close and trusted loved ones sit and talk with her and let her know to feed the boys healthy meals and snacks and they'll recieve all the nutrients they need as toddlers.

Before anyone including myself cast judgement or weird eyes on the mom she may have a mental depression.
OR
It simply sounds like shes obsessively attached to her boys and she has the right to be attached there her children but theres a time when us parents become too attached.

well, I breatfeed my son until he was 2 and his sister until she was 4 (at which time I weaned her completely)But I was discreet about it and it was only at night time for comfort.
You are right they don't need the nutritian at this age and it is more of a comfort thing. However, emotionally and physically there is nothing wrong with extended breastfeeding.
Because you all share custody, there needs to be some discussion about how to handle night time routines.
I dont really have any advice about that because I have never been in a situation where I share custody, sorry.

But I dont believe that your step-son's mom is doing any harm be extended breastfeeding and will wean when the time is right for all of you.
I dont think you need to stay out of it,because it does effect you and your relationships with his father and him and his mother.

I am reading these responses and I breast fed my first until she was 16 months. I was applauded by the breastfeeding consultant after my last daughter was born for going that long. My husband thought it was too long. I do agree there is a time to cut off. We do have nutritious food for children to eat.
I was reading these responses about they do it in other cultures. They do it in other cultures because they don't have a good source of food for the children, so it is for the children's benefit. Here we have the means to stop earlier. But it really is her choice. Even though it is crazy to me to see people who do this-it is their choice.

This is a very controversial subject, so this is just my opinion, I'm sure it's a difficult situation since they are not your biological kids, but for the social and mental health of those kids, it would be hard to bite my tongue if I were in your shoes.

Perhaps suggest to your husband to tell to the mom if she insists on breastmilk to pump and give it to him in sippy cups - mixed with cow's milk. Then he will slowly be weaned (couldn't imagine weaning a 3 1/2 year old - that will take a couple months of screaming) and eventually the mom's milk will dry up because pumping alone will not sustain milk production.

Good luck!!! You are a good person for being concerned! ; )

Wow. No advice on this really I just had to pipe up, because 5 years is SO old to still be breastfeeding. You wonder what the other kids in kindergarten think.

I think in developing countries children are often breastfed much longer than in America because they don't have enough food, and I don't think it harms them. When it comes right down to it, it's probably not harmful, it's just so foreign to our culture. If anything it should make a kid more secure, not less, so maybe the oldest kid is just clingy by nature. If anything the divorce of his parents probably made him more insecure.

So yeah, it's weird, but there's nothing you can do about it anyway, except wait 1-1/2 years till she finally cuts the cord on this one. I think breastfeeding her children forever is more indicative of HER dysfunction and HER unmet needs than it has to do with them, and those are going to be the things that mess the kids up, not the breastfeeding itself.

P.S. - Just read the responses below, and good point: dad DOES have a say in the matter, if it's interfering with his time with the kids. The kid should just be able to have a bottle when he's with dad. "Sorry, you're with daddy, with daddy you have a bottle."

I hope this response goes to the right place I clicked on the respond about 4year old breastfeeding... if this is the wrong place then disregard this messgae. Anyway obviously the hardest thing about step-parenting (being one myself) is not being able to control what goes on when they are not with you. Something that you wrote stood out to me about what you wrote, saying that the nursing was limiting your family's time with your step-son. IF that is part of the problem then maybe clarifying with your husband what the arrangement is, and making sure that if you guys have a custody arrangement that it is kept, he is old enough to where his need to nurse should not be stopping him from time with you guys. WHile it might be her perrogative to nurse him when he is with her, if he is supposed to spend time with you guys and it interferes then make sure you are clear about that. I don't agree with some of the other postings, mixed families can be confusing and strange at first, but it sounds to me like she is exerting control in a way that could be damaging since it is keeping the kids separate from dad. And my personal advice would be to stay as far away from anything Dr. Laura says ... as mentioned in another posting... eek.

Sounds like she might be doing it so that the child can't spend the night with you and dad.

I have heard that if a child doesn't leanr to soothe themselves while they are young that it will be a difficult thing to do later.

I'm sure there is nutritional value to the breast feeding as the other posts have suggested, but I agree with you that he does not NEED the nutrition from the breast milk. The fact is that we do live in the U.S. and our children have access to nutritional food. You wouldn't still formula feed a 3 year old, so why breastfeed? It sounds like an attachment issue for the mother. I breastfed my children and it was the best experience for both of us, however there is a time to let go.

That being said, I don't think you could really ask the mother to stop. She is his mother and gets to make that choice. Maybe your husband could talk with her about how it's affecting their son when he's with your family and hopefully her choice of having her son be well adjusted in two families will outweigh her choice to breastfeed. It certainly would be more beneficial to his long term emotional issues, in my opinion. Good luck to you!

It sounds like there's a lot of complicated issues here because the boy has to share families, routines, bedtimes. I'm sure it must be frustrating for you all because you want to take care of him and meet his needs. I do however want to reassure you that breastfeeding a 3 year old is normal. For most countries the median age for stopping breastfeeding is at the age of 4, it's just in the U.S. that we're conditioned to have it stop much earlier. The emotional benefits are usually huge in a child's developmental status if breastfed as long as possible, however sometimes you just can't get in the way of a child's natural state of mind. So the brother's are just probably more different for many reasons. It may be time for them to stop nursing since the home situation is unique and he's not with his biological mother every night. Can you talk with her on this point? Maybe she would see the benefit to the boy if other's could "put him down" for the night. Good luck.

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