LLL Leaders are Humans, Too
by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology,
Texas A & M University
Updated Introduction, March 16, 2004: This following brief comment was written almost 10 years ago, in response to someone complaining that they went to a La Leche League meeting and didn't find it all that helpful. Many people don't seem to realize that LLL leaders are all volunteers, and they come from all different backgrounds and personalities. Each group you encounter will have a slightly different 'flavor' to it, depending on the leader and the moms. If you aren't comfortable at the first meeting you attend, try another group, with another leader. LLLI does have guidelines and rules that all leaders are supposed to agree with and follow. Some do, some don't, or don't all the time. LLLI cannot monitor every meeting of every group and chastise the leader (or one of the attending mothers) if she/they say something inappropriate. If you find you have little in common with the other mothers apart from breastfeeding, then take what you find useful, and ignore the rest.
Every LLL leader is different, as well as the groups. In my
town, most of the moms who go to LLL meetings on a regular basis met through LLL,
participate in the LLL play-group, and are friends outside of LLL. This is where we go to
meet like-minded parents, folks with young kids, etc. We come from all walks of life, and
may disagree on other issues, such as abortion or religion or politics (boy do we ever),
but we share some common beliefs about the importance of children and the importance of
parenting in our lives. Someone I just met was asking me, the other day, "Do your
friends know that your 3 year old sleeps with you? What do they think about it?" I
had to laugh first, and then say "All our friends sleep with their children!"
Then she asked "What do they think about that fact that you are still nursing
him?" Again, I laughed, and said, "All my friends believe in child-led weaning!
Some are nursing children 5 or 6 years old!" She looked surprised, but intrigued,
figuring, I suppose, that I was the only one with these parenting beliefs!
Try not to be too harsh on LLL leaders who don't come across
as always being totally objective or supportive, or who push personal unrelated agendas
such as Christian home-schooling, or cloth diapers, or a particular type of sling. They are all individuals, with their own strengths and
weaknesses, just like all of us. Try to find a group/leader that you feel comfortable
with. One of the best things about going to LLL meetings, even after you have weaned, and
even if you never have a problem, is that you get to share what worked/works for you, and
on a number of occasions I have had someone come up to me and say "You said something
in the very first meeting I ever went to, and at the time I thought it was really strange,
but it stuck with me, and it turned out to be very helpful." That is a wonderfully
empowering feeling, to know that you have helped someone, and is one of the purposes of
LLL also, to let mothers who have been successful serve as mentors to those new to
mothering, or having difficulties.
Prepared August 5, 1995. Updated introduction added March 16, 2004.
Last updated March 16, 2004, by kad. Contents copyright 1999-2004 by Sue Ann Kendall and Kathy Dettwyler. Thanks to Prairienet, the Free-Net of east-central Illinois, for hosting this site from 1999 through 2004.
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