Breaking the Bonds

By Richard Nelson

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August 1, 2015

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Mary Beth Steinfeld, M.D., once wrote the following on the UC Davis Medical Center website about mothers bonding with their children: “A normal, full-term baby is … programmed to initiate and enter into a bonding relationship.” Steinfeld's view is not shared by all, however. Kathleen McCartney, president of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, recently referred to motherhood as a “cultural invention.” She believes “our romanticized views about motherhood continue to sow division and guilt, undermining our energies to organize for the policies that employed mothers and fathers deserve” and suggests increased funding for institutionalized childcare. Essentially, Smith is tossing out years of medical and social research establishing the bond between mother and child in favor of a society where children would be better served if they were raised by the state. This type of thinking seeks to establish not only a generation of children raised with a government mindset, but also a generation of adults who focus more on their careers and advancement than their families. There is nothing “programmed” about a family. It is the basic unit of society. Smith's ideas (and those like them) may preach progress, but in truth they push us toward a bleak cultural reality.

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center