To varying degrees, our ancestors tended to believe that correct beliefs and behavior should be enforced for the good of the group. Religious heresy should be curbed, political unrest removed, and destabilizing immorality punished. Nowadays, we value diversity and individual expression more than the strength and security of a monolithic culture. As long as no one is obviously hurting others with their beliefs, choices, or actions, we argue for live-and-let live morality in most spheres. It is not our job, we think, to judge the guy who dumped his wife, critique the “open marriage” of the couple down the street, or even to tell our transcendental brother-in-law that his potted plants don’t hear when he talks to them. We are not our brothers’ keepers.
However, as new parents quickly discover, children who do not experience parental judgment become intolerable, unhappy people. Mothers are forced to become authorities for the sake of their families. They must frequently overcome the will of a child (sometimes by force) and say things like, “No, you may not run into the street, no matter how devastatingly disappointing this is,” “No, you are not allowed to use the toothbrushes and toothpaste to create art on the walls,” “No, you may not attend that sleepover at your friend’s house while his parents are out-of-town.”One way to resolve this conflict is to relieve mothers other their duties to keep their children perfectly safe 24 hours a day and to teach them right from wrong. The government is standing by to take over these obligations, and it is not troubled by any discomfort when it acts judgmental or punishes heresy.