Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nature & Nurture

I read this crazy post yesterday that was featured on Freshly Pressed (Wordpress) suggesting that "Nurturing" your children is not as important as we think because "Nature", or genetics, mostly defines how our kids turn out. This was an opinion article in the Vancouver Sun about a Freakonomics Radio podcast which cited research suggesting that genetic factors are more responsible for how much education your children get in later life and what their earnings will be.

The article did not cite the research though (only the podcast
did), but by the sound of it I would have to think the research was very shallow. Research is only as good as the questions that are asked. Is the amount of education one gets, and their annual income the defining
factor in a person's worth, happiness and accomplishments in life? As parents, do we evaluate our success in parenting based on how smart our kids become and how much money they earn as adults, or are these just bonuses as long as our kids are happy and well adjusted?

All this bantering about Nature versus Nurture is silly anyway because there is no versus in this relationship. Our children are born with a unique individual personality and character just as they are born with certain color of hair and eyes and other physical characteristics due to genetics. However, a newborn baby does not look the same way they will as an adult (thank God) because their physical features are not mature. In the same way their personality and character is also not mature, not fully developed. Can your child develop completely and independently from birth? Of course not.

What parents do or don't due in terms of nurturing or raising their children can either help, not help or even damage their child's development. By instinct most parents take seriously their role as a parent, and we experience every day the value of loving our children and doing what's best for them. Maybe we struggle sometimes with how much or how little to influence our kids, and knowing what exactly they need, but overall the love and support we give them helps all that potential come alive and bare fruit.

The question is not whether Nature or Nurture is more important; it is "How can we nurture well to help them reach the potential of their true nature?"   

If you want to look at some real research check out the Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child website: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/activities/council/

1 comment:

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