LLL of Florida/Caribbean Islands Blog for Supporting Leaders
Julia is taking some time away from the computer and has asked me (Joan) to be a guest blogger. Thanks, Julia! She had already made up a plan to cover certain topics, and we will continue with the next one on the list.
You may find yourself in this situation: There is a mother who has been attending your Group’s meetings regularly, speaks well, and shows her understanding of LLL philosophy by the way she tends to her child. She seems to be just what the Group needs: a potential Leader Applicant. You would love to recommend her for LLL leadership, except you’re not quite sure whether she meets the Mothering Experience Prerequisite. She and her baby have had ongoing separation over the first three years, and you are not sure how LLL views her experience in relation to the idea of mothering through breastfeeding and the mother-baby relationship.
Over the past years, as LLL is reaching into more neighborhoods in different communities, there have been questions about how mother-baby separation may affect a candidate’s ability to meet the prerequisites to applying for LLL leadership. The LLLI Board of Directors responded in 2016 with an updated description in Appendix 17. See “Mother/Baby Relationship” at http://www.llli.org/docs/lad/psr-appendix17.pdf.
In light of this new wording, when reviewing an application, it helps the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) to know more about how a mother continues to show understanding of the importance of the mother-baby relationship that is enhanced through breastfeeding (feeding at the breast). Leaders writing recommendations are the conduit for gathering this information and gaining that knowledge. The goal of the LAD is to widen the understanding of how these concepts apply in families, and to activate as many applications as possible.
The key to gathering information to complete the Leader Recommendation Form is an in-depth pre-application dialogue. Although it’s important to know the age of the baby at the time of first separation and the amount of separation during periods of time (day/week), it’s even more relevant to know how the mother has continued showing her understanding of LLL philosophy through her actions when she is with and away from her baby.
Here are some ideas to explore during the dialogue:
- How the mother represents mother-baby togetherness that reflects the concept: In the early years, the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.
- Details about any separation mother and baby have had, including when it began, and if it has changed over time.
- What the mother did that demonstrates flexibility and availability to her baby.
- Any changes the candidate has made that show she considers her baby a priority.
- How the mother presents her separation at LLL meetings.
- What care-giving arrangements the mother has made for her baby.
Points to consider while writing your recommendation are:
- How does the mother present her separation experience? She might indicate that she struggles with the separation, or she might see her situation as satisfactory.
- On what aspects of her situation does she focus when she talks about mother-baby togetherness?
- What personal qualities do you believe will make this candidate an effective LLL Leader outside of her working/pumping experience?
The reason you are asked to have this conversation with the mother is because in most, if not all, cases, the LAD representative has not met her. It is better for her to speak about such personal matters with a Leader she knows and trusts, rather than a Leader she has never met. The more detail you provide on the recommendation, the less likely the LAD rep will ask you to have a further conversation with her. Our goals are the same: to be able to determine if the candidate meets the prerequisites as set by the LLLI Board of Directors. And if the prerequisites are met, to activate the application and be on the road toward LLL leadership.