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Couples Meeting: Parenting the Breastfed Baby

Elke Ruggaber
Elon College, North Carolina, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 4, August-September 1999, p. 87

My co-Leader Debbie Huynh and I recently held our first Couples Meeting. One suggestion we had read about was to schedule a Couples Meeting as a fifth meeting in the series. We decided to hold the meeting in a private home. After holding meetings in a public building for two years, it was nice to be in a home again.

We used this outline for the meeting:

  • What is LLL?
  • Brief history of LLL.
  • LLL conferences.
  • Disclaimer: "You know your family best. Please take from the meeting the information with which you feel comfortable. You are the expert on your own family and situation."
  • Ask each husband to introduce his family and tell us why he came to the meeting.
  • "We are meeting tonight to discuss family and parenting issues that are not necessarily supported by society, other family members or health care providers. As mothers we decided to plan a get together with our partners to see how other families handle certain issues such as nursing in public, family bed, weaning gradually, discipline with loving guidance, night waking, relatives' comments, breastfeeding past one year." (A poster showing pictures of each of these can be used.)
  • Each father takes a situation card (see below) and reads it to the group. This starts the discussion.
  • Plan date for the next Couples Meeting.
  • Close meeting; refreshments.

Situations for discussion starter cards:

You win a seven day vacation to the Caribbean Islands. Naturally, you and your wife are very excited. However, you have a six- month-old baby. Your friends suggest weaning the baby and leaving her with your inlaws. What will you do?

Your parents come to visit and realize that your baby sleeps in your bed instead of a crib in another room. How do you handle your parents' concern about privacy in your bedroom and a perceived lack of independence of the child?

You show up for work late because your 13-month-old child has been waking frequently the last couple of nights. This starts a discussion with your co-workers. One shares how they have let their child "cry it out" and how this has worked for their family. You share his suggestions with your wife. What do you think will happen?

You and your wife are invited to a company picnic. Your baby is three months old and nurses frequently. How do you feel about your wife nursing in public?

Your 18-month-old toddler is still very interested in nursing. How do you handle your brother's concern that you are spoiling the child?

Your coworker talks about how a good spanking helps him get his children back under control. He looks at you for confirmation. What is your reaction?

We worried that the fathers would be reluctant to talk but the men were so social, we had a hard time getting the meeting started. The discussion went well. The group seemed to agree on basic issues such as not weaning a six-month-old baby to go on a trip. We stopped the meeting after one hour for refreshments. Everyone had brought something to share.

It seemed as if no one wanted to leave. My husband really enjoyed the evening. One father said he had always wanted to come to a meeting to see what LLL was all about. Another father said that he hoped we would have another Couples Meeting soon.

Couples Meeting Game Idea

Connie White
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA

The "NewlyFed Game," a takeoff on the "Newlywed Game," a USA television game show of the 70s, is a great ice breaker for a Couples Meeting.

After introductions, the fathers go off to another room with the children while the mothers are asked three questions. When the fathers come back, they try to answer in the way they think their wives answered. Next the mothers leave and the fathers answer three questions which the mothers try to answer as their husbands did. There are no right or wrong answers; they just have to match. Points are given for matching answers and the winning couple gets a prize. Leaders can solicit a donation of, perhaps, dinner for two at a local restaurant.

Here are two types of sample questions to get you started.

Multiple Choice question:

Speaking of leaking milk, would your husband say your breasts are like a) a leaky faucet b) Niagara Falls or c) a gently flowing brook?

Short answer question:

How long ago did you last have a conversation with your wife without being interrupted by a child?

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