Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nature v. Nurture; Nature Wins Everytime

Many parents have probably looked beamingly at their children and thought “what a wonderful job I did.” At times, at least.

But what about the bad seed? Are parents responsible for that one, as well? These questions come down to whether our children arise from “nature” or “nurture.” Is it the genes we give them at birth, or the jeans we wear when we play with them that molds them, so to speak.

Most parents don’t get a good shot at any type of scientific look at this. Even if you have three kids, they are likely spaced out over various periods in life featuring different levels of income, stress and parental availability. If nothing else, life is different with one than three, meaning that first one probably received a different level of attention – at least at first.

But I’m somewhat unique here: I have all 3 at once. Same circumstances; same income; same attention. Its that experience that leads me to the belief that its definitely nature and not nurture.

DS1 is a laugh machine, finding 100 things funny, sometimes all at once, running from here to there, checking on what everyone else is doing and hamming it up.

DS2 is more introspective. He likes putting things in boxes and taking them out. He is often playing alone, pointing at stuff and just generally “working” it.

DD is, well, more girly. She avoids the boys when the roughhouse and gets upset when their roughhousing spills over into her. Of the 3, she is the only one who shows any affinity for stuffed animals, lovingly clinging to them and kissing them. All three enjoy their blankets, but she is far and away the most attached to it.

Three different personalities. Despite DW and I doing everything the same for all three. So while we might laud the efforts of those tiger moms and dads who push their kids, its probably a moot point.

The parents of Tiger Woods and the Jackson family are probably just fine tuning a skill their children already possess. You might turn your child from Ernie Els into Tiger Woods, but its unlikely you can take a child with no proficiency at something and turn him or her into a superstar, or even a second tier performer. If that’s is the case, and I think my experience tells me it is, then its probably more important to expose your child to a wealth of experiences so their inherent skill set can be discovered, rather than beat one particular skill into them. Sure, you might turn your child from a B+ performer to an A performer, but you also might be that Dad or Mom the child grows up to hate; the one who made a child take trumpet lessons despite no proficiency for trumpet or music.

I’m certainly not the first to notice this. There is an excellent book titled “Selfish Reasons To Have More Children” that goes into detail about twin and triplet studies showing that even in cases of twins split by adoption, they tend to like the same things and go into the same careers.

That’s nature, folks.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely don't disagree that nature is a huge thing, and I'm sure you'll agree nurture also plays a part. And then of course there is the whole issue of birth order (which I doubt your kids have a problem with!).

    Also, someone could point out that DD is more girly because you dress her up girly and people treat her more girly and she's been influenced by that. Maybe at this age that's not a complete possibility, but it could be raised. Of course, I'd point out that my mother tried to raise me girly and it never really stuck. So :P on them.

    I think the most important part of the nature vs nurture thing is this: Just love your kids, everything else will fall as it will. :)