I encourage women to nurse their babies...it's the best "food" for them...and the best insurance for good health going forward.
However, there's a proper place and "manner" in which to do this.
Feeding your child mid-Liturgy, to me, is a bit much. The mother doesn't have to be relegated to the bathroom, however, if she's not standing among strictly women, then she should walk to the back, go to the hall, sit in the narthex, etc. I find it inappropriate and distracting. We are taught to be as discreet and invisible in church, as possible, so as not to take people's minds off God and prayer.
Furthermore, sitting around a single table at a meeting, with mixed company, clergy, teens, unrelated men, etc. and whipping it out....I also find inappropriate...
The majority of mom's that I have encountered were discreet and gentle and sweet....and when you noticed them sitting off by themselves covered with a shawl....you knew what was happening....and moved on....or even were willing (as a woman) to sit and keep her company.
However, there was this one mom....who wished to parade it around....and would feed her child no matter where she was, who was around, etc. It was almost like "I dare you to stop me..." kind of attitude....and she was not discreet....and would simply pop it out and not bother covering at all.
With a boat load of teenage boys around, and girls hitting puberty....I found this to be inconsiderate of those around her. Girls were self conscious and the boys were ogling.
One has to take into consideration both sides. Respect the mother and her need and wishes to nurse her child....however, keep in mind the reactions of those around. Perhaps the mother of the teenage boy doesn't wish her son to be put in such a situation that he might find uncomfortable.
Plus, while I completely understand and value the symbolism in the OP icon, I find other icons of the Theotokos much more comforting and soothing.
The first time I saw one like it was in Ukraine in a church....and I had to stop and do a double take. This was years ago, and I was rather young...and almost felt offended on behalf of the Mother of God, that mankind should depict her in such a way.
Everyone knows she gave birth and fed the Christ child....however, she was always modest and covered up, and might be offended that her breast was showing (even if it is depicted as coming out of her shoulder instead of her chest - which makes it look even odder).
I have no issues with the icon and understand and appreciate the theology behind it, however, I would not hang one in my prayer corner.
This was not anti-motherhood, but, anti public display of breasts. Women and moms are more than their breasts.
Stating that I disagree with a mom who pops out her breast anywhere to feed her child, even if it makes those around her uncomfortable hardly is a statement against motherhood. It's more of a statement of decency. This one mom would feed her child in front of teenage boys, in front of clergy, in front of men, other than her husband. I am not saying she needs to go far away, to be secluded, etc...no. All I wished for was that she used a blanket or shawl to cover up. This was hardly anti-motherhood.
I am sorry that I logged on tonight. I happened to check my Facebook account and am always surprised and saddened by what the kids are up to these days.
I have friended a number of kids from our parish. Just now I looked at one of the girl's pages and saw that she had "friends" that were also my students. I wish I hadn't gone to view her page.
Reading their comments and "walls"...likes, and links, and questions....amazes me.
I always like to think of them as the angels that I see on Sundays...and yet, they are sadly NOT!
The language they use....the conversations they have.... Oh my gosh! These are Orthodox children!
One girl I have gently reprimanded for writing less than savory words on my "Wall". She apparently didn't realize what the F in LMFAO stood for...so she apologized...and while she is no longer LMFAO, she is still LMAO. However, upon my suggestion, she did remove her cellphone number from her page, and thanked me for caring.
These are kids of 10 years of age. It might be "permissable for teenagers or college aged kids...but, these are 10 year olds! They shouldn't even know about the things they are commenting on. I've actually "hidden" a number of them from my page, because I am embarrassed to have their off color comments visible on my own page for others to read.
I never thought I was "old fashioned", but, it is killing me to hear the way these children talk...and WHAT they talk about.
So...how far does a "non-parent" of these children go in correcting their behavior? As their religion teacher do I have some right, or even responsibility to try to stem the crude and sex based discussions (which are done in the open)? Where is the boundary? It's not really "my" business, as they are not "my" kids....and yet, they are my students, and kids who run up to me for a hug in church. I am so sad, I am almost in tears!
Do their parents know? Do they care? Or worse, do they approve?
This Lent, while standing in a long line for Holy Confession, ahead of me was a student of mine and her parents. In the corner stands a huge metal container of Holy Water, with a spout. There are paper cups and trash bin (the cups get burned). As we stand there the girl gets ansy due to the long wait and eventually finds the Holy Water, gets a cup and proceeds to drink. Her parents just stand there playing with her hair. When she disposes of the cup and looks up she catches my eye, and comes over to me. I gently ask her if she remembered what I taught her about going to Holy Confession/Communion. She nods yes. I ask her if she remembers being taught that she is to fast from midnight, which means no food or drink. She nods yes. I ask her what was that she just did. She starts to whine that she was really, really thirsty. I remind her that next time she's not to drink or eat anything. She looks remorseful and goes back to her parents.
After Liturgy the parents stop me and tell me they realized that she shouldn't be drinking, but, she was soooo thirsty. So, while in line for Holy Confession, they see their daughter "breaking" the rules...and think it's okay because she was reallllllly thirsty. Granted it was Holy Water and not a bottle of Coke, but still...
So, should we really be "hands off"?
Where is our responsibility to the grapes in the Lord's vineyard? Should we train them or just let them grow wild?
I am always at a loss as how to proceed in these situations. I don't want to come off as being pushy...and yet, as their teacher I feel a pull to teach them.
I need your advice. When I see or read things my students (and these kids are all under 12 years of age) are saying that are against Orthodox morals and ethics, is it my duty, my responsibility, my place to correct them, or should I just let it go?
I don't want to come off as being "self righteous", because I am not. I realize my own sinful nature. But, again...these are children. If they think it's okay to be up all night and discuss immoral subjects, use the words they do, post provacative photos of each other, and are so comfortable with it....what's ahead for them? Where will they draw the line? They will burn out and be whithered before they reach 20. Dried up raisins, not grapes.
Thanks for listening and thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.
Let's see. Here I believe I was asking about the degree of involvement a non-parent can have in a child's upbringing. Nothing anti-motherhood here. I was simply stating that as a teacher of these kids, when I notice something amiss in their behavior, is it my duty to bring it to the parents' attention, or not. Again, nothing against motherhood here.
I have nothing but respect for mothers.
I suggest you read more carefully, and not put your own spin on my words.
As for the churching...it's part of the Faith. It's no harder than fasting, or any other restrictions put on us. It's no different than telling women we can't come to Holy Communion when we have our period, kiss icons, or even enter the church in some cases. There are a number of restrictions placed on various people for various reasons.
I agree there is no difference. All these thing come as solutions for problems we do not have any longer. Nowadays people usually do not risk their lives during childbirth or childbed. They also use sanitary pads. There are no reasons for them not to come to the Church.
I disagree. There is a reason....because the Church says so. When and if, the Church/bishops say it's okay, only then is it okay. Not when we think it is.