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A new study sets out to prove that there is a “mom gene”

We’re not exactly sure if this new study  from the Rockefeller University that claims to have discovered a “mom gene” fits our idea of making progress.

Researchers found that when a certain receptor was suppressed in the brains of mom mice, they became completely apathetic toward their babies. They stopped licking and nursing them, and wouldn’t even budge when an intruder entered the cage.

They chalked the mice’s inability to nurture their babies up to their inability to access their “mom gene.” According to study author Ana Ribeiro, “Without this gene, the skills to be ‘a good mom’ were lost.”

Oh, so that’s how the real “bad moms” are determined.  It’s a gene thing, not a hashtag, people!

All joking aside, our main problem with the study is this: Since when was nurturing and caring solely a “mom” thing? Last time we checked, there were lots of dads out there with some pretty strong instincts to look after their offspring.  Even if this study can’t include male mice in its scope, can’t it a the very-freaking-least move away from calling the missing component a “mom gene”?

When you have studies like this that present taking care of children as merely a maternal act, it just goes to propel myths about the moms, dads and families that are so positively antiquated. We know now that dudes can be awesome parents and that moms don’t need to be viewed as the sole nurturers and that all families each work in their own magical way.  Can we please all back away from the June Cleaver-isms we’re still somehow (ahem) cleaving to?

Amy Blackstone, chair of the department of sociology at the University of Maine, agrees: “I worry that this discovery could stall the wonderful progress we’ve made towards granting gay men parenting rights. Being female is not a pre-requisite to being a good parent … boys and girls are not born fathers and mothers. They are taught how to be parents.”

Chances are, whoever you are, you’re not going to get the hang of it until after you have your kid.  Let’s leave the mom part and the gene part out of it, OK?

Photo by pinksherbet via Flickr. 

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