Earlier this month many of us were outraged when we heard about the story of Habiba, a Moroccan immigrant in Spain who lost custody of her child for refusing to wean. She was breastfeeding on demand and co-sleeping at a battered women's shelter where she sought refuge and that's when the unthinkable happened. After thousands of letters, calls, and petitions poured in from concerned mothers all over the world, Spanish social services overturned the women's shelter's harsh ruling and allowed Habiba to reunite with her daughter, Alma. Hooray!
But hold the applause. Habiba's story has opened a can of worms. A new group has formed -- All Loving Mothers Association (A.L.M.A.) -- to "protect families' rights to breastfeed, co-sleep, birth at home, educate at home, and be together." And I'm starting to become addicted to all the stories of injustice they're telling. What's going on?
It's not just A.L.M.A. with the horror stories. There's the story of a homeless woman who was arrested for sending her child to school. Yeah, that will teach you to prepare your child for a life of independence! A mom even got harassed for sending her child to the restaurant bathroom alone. Sure, no one called Social Services, but why wasn't she trusted to make the best choice for her daughter?
We're scolded for co-sleeping, even if it's the only way our baby will sleep. I know it was the only way my son would sleep. My son spent his first days of life as an accomplice in my co-sleeping-behind-the-nurses-backs rebellion. And the public nursing wars continue, even though Federal and many state laws support a woman's right to nurse her baby anywhere. Just the other day, there was a spectacularly ridiculous standoff when a Detroit mother was ordered off a bus for nursing her newborn.
All over the world children are being beaten and starved by truly irresponsible and cruel parents. So why are we picking at each other over the small stuff? Why do we fault parents who are obviously engaging in parenting in a thoughtful, intentional way? Whether you're an attachment parenting advocate or a Ferberizer, as long as you care and are trying to be the best parent you possibly can be I think you deserve some respect and support. Let's save our outrage for the real emergencies.
Why do you think these injustices -- big and small -- keep happening to mothers?
Image via A. Blight/Flickr