Dear Annie: My wife and I are expecting our fourth child. She is a firm believer in breastfeeding and plans to do so when our baby arrives. Our oldest child, “Travis,” was 3 years old when his first sibling was born. My wife continued to breastfeed him along with the baby, and continued to do so through the birth of our third child, born when Travis was 5. I thought it was a little odd, but I did not object.
Travis is now 13 years old. A few weeks ago, he asked his mom if he could breastfeed like he did when he was little. He told her he remembers it and loved how safe he felt. He said he wants to feel that closeness with her again.
When she told me, I thought she was joking. But she was dead serious and had already told him ”yes.” I do not agree with this and have expressed my concerns. Travis is a boy in the middle of puberty who has suddenly become girl crazy. I cannot help but feel there is a sexual component to this. I had hoped her obstetrician would side with me, but when we asked about it, the doctor replied, ”I admit it is unusual to breastfeed a child at that age, but it is not likely it will harm him.”
Am I unreasonable to think a teenage boy doesn’t belong anywhere near his mom’s breasts? Please help me learn to accept this or to get my wife to rethink it. She has agreed to listen to your advice. – An Unreasonable Husband
Dear Husband: The obstetrician was undoubtedly responding solely to the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding. No, the milk will not harm him. But emotionally and psychologically, your wife is setting Travis up for years of psychotherapy.
It’s not like your wife has been breastfeeding Travis for the past 13 years. This is a recent request. Yes, of course, there is a sexual component, even if it’s subconscious and unintentional. The boy is 13. Girls are on his mind. We guarantee female breasts are on his mind. Mom should not let him practice on her. It can create all kinds of physical sensations and attachments, not only for him, but also for Mom, none of which is emotionally healthy. Mom – if you’re listening, please put your child first. Indulging this request doesn’t do either of you any good. It’s OK to say “no.” Simply tell Travis that he’s too old to do what babies do. Surely, you can help him feel safe and loved in a more age-appropriate way. You also can discuss this with Travis’ pediatrician, who might have a better handle on a teenage boy’s emotional health.
Dear Annie: When I eat out, am I supposed to cut a hamburger in half before eating? I have done this, but it makes it so messy to eat. – M.
Dear M.: Sandwiches (especially hamburgers) can be eaten whole, unless doing so would require a bib or a larger mouth. Most folks would cut a grilled cheese sandwich, for example, but if cutting a hamburger makes it too sloppy, then by all means, don’t do it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.