In a recent article in the Mormon Times, women’s studies professor Kristine Frederickson describes the womanly instinct to nuture as a gift and a privilege bestowed by God.  She speaks compellingly of the need to resist worldly forces that would nullify this power, but to diligently safeguard and cultivate it, calling women’s nurturing nature the best and last defense against hatred, viciousness and violence.

There is much in society today that encourages women to become callous, indifferent and hardened.  The violent content, the sexual content, the selfishness content, the callousness manifest in so much of today’s media, and in many social and professional settings, conditions individuals to become less caring, less attuned, and desensitized to other’s needs and suffering.  In many ways our world increasingly disdains kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness.

This is a disturbing and dangerous trend. It is particularly troubling for women who, in a very real sense, are positioned as mothers, and women with a mother’s heart, to be the best and, at times, the last defense against hatred, viciousness and violence.

Women…are innately fitted to nurture.  Certainly that inclination can be sublimated if a woman works long and hard to do so, but it is one of the great instincts given to women by a loving Father in Heaven.  It is something that women ought to guard and treasure.  It is native not only to married women with children, but a gift given to all women — the privilege of having a “mother’s heart.”

Women…today…must recognize and resist becoming heartless, unfeeling, uncaring and insensitive.  We have been given the privilege of being the primary caregivers in our societies, of having a “woman’s heart,” and need to work diligently to safeguard and cultivate our capacity to nurture.

Kristine Frederickson
“Women and Nurture”
Mormon Times, 25 July 2010
Frederickson’s sentiments echo those of the late Elder Neal A. Maxwell, expressed in a 1978 conference address entitled The Women of God. The following short video captures some highlights of that memorable talk.

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Another outstanding address on this subject is Sheri L. Dew’s talk, Are We Not All Mothers, given in the October 2001 General Conference, which I highly recommend.