Kathryn Lopez

Bill O'Reilly's attention had been on Barack Obama and other national political figures for a stretch - until Jennifer Aniston opened her mouth. Her comments regarding modern motherhood didn't score well in the "no spin zone."

During a recent "The O'Reilly Factor" segment, the Fox News star hosted a "culture war" debate addressing Aniston's recent comments about women and motherhood, relating to her new artificial-insemination comedy with Jason Bateman, "The Switch."

During a press conference about it, Aniston explained: "The point of the movie is, what is it that defines family? It isn't necessarily the traditional mother, father, two children and a dog named Spot," she said. "Love is love and family is what is around you and who is in your immediate sphere. That is what I love about this movie. It is saying it is not the traditional sort of stereotype of what we have been taught as a society of what family is.

"Times," she continued, "have changed, and that is also what is amazing is that we do have so many options these days, as opposed to our parents' days when you can't have children because you have waited too long. ... Women are realizing it more and more knowing that they don't have to settle with a man just to have that child."

O'Reilly pushed back against that message. "She's throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds that 'hey, you don't need a guy, you don't need a dad,'" he said. "That's destructive to our society."

The entertainment blogs immediately seized on O'Reilly's comments, caricaturing his criticism as ridiculous.

It is, of course, a fact that there are alternatives that exist today for women -- especially women of means -- to have children in ways that their grandmothers and even mothers didn't have. But it doesn't follow that we should necessarily embrace these alternatives.

Aniston is right to say that "there are children that don't have homes that have a home and can be loved. And that's extremely important." There are, absolutely, occasions where a child needs love, doesn't have it, and someone is able to provide it in an unconventional way. These exceptions, however, are not reasons to toss out everything we know to be true about moms and dads and the need for them as a single unit. And this, also, isn't what we're talking about in we-women-can-have-babies-however-we-like comedies.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.