Good mother gene

I don’t know whether to feel relieved or even more inadequate after the latest scientific revelation about motherhood.
Apparently whether I am a good mum or not is out of my hands and it is all down to my genes.
It was reported last week that scientists in America  have discovered a gene that determines the strength of a woman’s maternal instincts and how much effort they put into bringing up their young.
The ‘Good Mother Gene’ is found in a specific group of brain cells and can control crucial biological behaviour such as protecting, feeding or raising children.
The discovery was made not in humans, but in mice. When this group of brain cells was reduced in the poor little critters they spent less time licking, nursing and retrieving their young.
So it got me wondering whether I possess this gene or not?  I don’t remember reading in any of my parenting manuals that licking my newborn was an important motherly role. On the other hand, if my child runs off, I do go and bring them back.
Comparing the modern mother to a mouse does seem a bit unfair. Do they have to juggle the work/life balance? Panic that they have been teaching their child to read with the old fashioned alphabet and not the phonic one? Check they are getting enough exercise, not watching too much TV and eating the right food?
I also wonder who decided that the official definition of a “good mother” is someone who gives lots of hugs (or licks) and makes sure the child doesn’t get lost?
What does this mean for the so-called tiger mothers? Think of tennis player Andy Murray’s mum. Maybe she was good at nursing and retrieving too, but I bet she was also pretty good at kicking his lazy teenage backside out of bed and dragging him down to the tennis court. And look at him now.
And what about the career mum, who goes back to work when her child is a few weeks old to bring in the family pay packet and provide for her children. Is this necessarily a bad mother?
Maybe the scientists need to follow this emotionally deprived generation of mice until they hit the mice teenage years and find out if they end up with a gang of rioting rodents, angry with society and life, before they publish their conclusions.
Rather than announcing headline grabbing, pointless mouse research that perpetuates an outdated image of perfect motherhood that is irrelevant to modern life, scientists could concentrate on finding something useful like a button you can press on a child that will make it sleep through the night and then I bet you will suddenly find a lot more mothers feel like being “good” the following day.


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