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Weaning is Way Past Due

answered 01:24 AM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
anonymous anonymous
Is my son going to have psychological trauma if he is breastfed past the age of 4? He is 4 years old and 5 months. I am asking this in regards to my sons mom and my ex wife who is insisting on continuing to breast feed for health reasons. She doesn’t do it out in the open anymore but she will still do it around other family members and it is very hard to take. I am worried that it cannot be OK if you can remember feeding off your mothers breasts when you are an adult or a teenager.

Dr. Mark Abrahams Says...

Dr.  Mark Abrahams . Abrahams

By the time a child reaches 5 years of age and begins kindergarten, [s]he best be weaned from breast-feeding and toilet trained. He is going to begin a socialization process in school, and if his peers discover that he is still breast-feeding, there are going to be consequences that will follow him through grade school, and possibly beyond. Bullying can most definitely be traumatic, even at a very early age! I cannot stress this strongly enough. I happen to have recently re-connected with someone whom I was friends with as a young child. He is a psychologist today. But I remember teasing him myself when he ate lunch at my house and requested that my mother warm his milk at age 5 or 6!

The immune system of your son is no longer in need of antibodies from his mother's milk. The further concern is that your ex-wife refuses to relinquish a stage of her maternal process, and is exploiting your son to meet her own unhealthy emotional needs. From a psychosexual (Freudian) perspective, he is way past the Oral Stage, past the Anal Stage, and he should be into the Phallic Stage (age 3-6), where the Oedipal Complex develops. Here, the male child wants to possess the mother in competition with the father. If the father is absent, an emotional competition is believed to have been won by the child, but as the genitals are the dominant erogenous zone in the Phallic Stage (little boys do touch themselves, and experience erections and genital pleasure), it obviously is not a healthy connection to have with his mother's breasts. This can set the stage for all manner of  psychosexual adjustment problems after he passes through the next Latency Stage and into the Genital Stage beginning with adolescence.

I did not want to lay a bunch of psychobabble on you, but your son needs to be weaned ASAP for all the above reasons. Moreover, someone whom your son's mother trusts, an older female and mother ideally, should have a serious talk with her. I would further urge that your son's mother consider counseling on this matter from a mental health professional.

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Page last updated Nov 18, 2013

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