This would be a rather forgettable episode of Trek if it weren't for something important that happened behind the scenes. The idea here is to show the effect these dangerous weekly adventures have on the children of the ship, who must deal with some of the consequences when something goes wrong. It's a great idea that's not executed very well and can be rather depressing. Part of the problem is that the episode focuses too much on the guest stars, as opposed to characters we know better and care more about. Still, Troi gets a meaty part, and Wesley has a couple nice moments that build off of his established history. The original story idea, however, might have been more interesting. Ron Moore proposed having the boy recreate his dead mother on the holodeck, and the crew dealing with that situation. (Gene Roddenberry felt 24th century children would have a better acceptance of death and vetoed that aspect.)
For whatever reason, the powers-that-be in the Star Trek universe loved "The Bonding", and so the episode gets points for opening the door for Moore (a hardcore fan of the original series) to write more Star Trek – making this a landmark Trek installment for that reason alone.