- Family and Parenting
Nature Versus Nurture A Mother's Point Of View
I was given an assignment by my high school English teacher to study, review and write about my conclusions regarding this topic. I poured through the books on the topic and, being an only child, I found logic in the argument for the nurture side. I felt that everyone is born with certain personality quirks but that it is up to the parents to choose which traits to nurture, and which to ignore.
It made sense to me that, based on theory and genetics, when two people create a baby, that child would be a mix of the two in personality, not just physical attributes. To a certain degree, I believe that I was on to something back then. Then I children of my own. Four to be exact.
They are all unique in their personalities. Although I can point to some quirks and say that is just like so-and-so, I have witnessed my children developing their personalities all on their own. My oldest child, soon to be ten, was solo with us for a mere ten months before his sister was born. He got the benefits of one-on-one interaction as well as the less beneficial 'bonuses' of being subjected to some trial and error. He is smart, always on the honor roll, relates well to older children, is more intuitive than people give him credit for, and yearns for his own space. He is bossy and impatient but not quite a leader. He is unsure of himself in a lot of ways despite social success.
Next in line is my first premature baby. She came to us two months too soon at a scant 3lbs, 10 oz. with a five percent chance of survival and came home an amazing eighteen days later. We with her in the NICU everyday save two when 9/11 came along and my husband was on standby. We called those days to check in but it tore us up to not see her. She is an optimist to a fault and a people-pleaser, positive reinforcement works well for her, she feels the need to keep up with her older brother and struggles but does it, maintaining honor roll status as well. She gets easily frustrated when she does not get things right away but knows the sweet taste of earned success when she does get it. She makes friends easy but is a follower and takes peer criticism hard.
Two years later comes another preemie. He was only six weeks early, not eight, and already weighed 5lbs, 5oz. allowing him to come home in three days. He was babied and does not want to leave that role. He fears failure and masks his emotions through humor. He is unsure of himself outside of the family dynamics and avoids responsibility like the plague with some of the most creative excuses I have ever heard. At times it is difficult to reprimand him when we want so much to laugh. It is necessary, though and we do our best. We realize that we did help create his lack of desire to participate in chores and it is no easy task correcting that! Despite all of that, though, he has no pressing need to follow. He is perfectly content to do his own thing whether anybody else wants to or not. He does not require social validation in that department.
Fast forward another two years and my last child is born. An almost identical mirror to her sister, she is born two months early and weighs just slightly more. She comes home in nineteen days. Circumstances now dictate that I must return to work so she spends a great deal of time with my mother and step-father. She benefits from the solo interaction and is eager to learn from everybody. She is fearless with an awesome understanding of social dynamics, including sarcasm. She is very sure of herself, is not shy, and knows what she wants. She is not wishy-washy but rather very stubborn and very intuitive, like her oldest brother. She takes risks in the name of fun, pays close attention to what others are doing and mimics to the best of her ability. This all has has left her with a feeling of superiority that is both hilarious in a child her age, and dangerous if left unchecked. And yet she is maternal and caring and very thoughtful of others.
It has been an adventure watching them develop their personalities and I look forward to seeing how they grow. We can nurture our children with love, compassion, understanding, and discipline. We can show them how to have manners, how to treat others with fairness and without judgement, and how to love. We cannot decide for them who they are going to be. A nurse can instill a desire to heal. A police officer can raise a child to protect. A mechanic's daughter can learn to enjoy wrenching and a politician's son can turn towards government. Then again, maybe not. In the end, they are their own beings. We can help guide them but we cannot make them into something they are not.