Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nature Vs. Nurture

Learning about child development as I went through school, I think I always had in the back of my mind that the right environment over-ranked hereditary no matter what. I don't really remember my views exactly, because they've definitely been shaped and molded as I've grown and learned and had different life experiences.

Suffice it to say I'm at a point now that must be a rare opportunity to say the least. Having brought Braeden, my 7 year old, into my home in a foster care situation right from the hospital at 3 days old, most people would think (and I may have one time believed myself) that all is formed and shaped from that point forward. But I'm here to say today that those 9 months in the womb and the genetic makeup of a person, have SO MUCH more to do with personality and behavior than I may have previously given credit to.

And how do I "know" this you may ask? Well, because when Braeden was born, my friend T was already raising Braeden's birth siblings (then ages 2 and 1) and had been for exactly one year. She was their foster parent, having taken them in when they were 3 months and 21 months. Prior to that they had lived with another birth relative. When it was discovered that "mom" was expecting yet again, my friend T knew that she already had her hands full as a single working parent with two small ones and let the agency know they would need to find someone else. I spoke up and told everyone I would do it! :)

And so Braeden was placed with me. We have raised these kids separately, seeing each other obviously every now and then. T and I parent very differently, not bad or good, just different. She is African American, I'm obviously not! :) She has extended family close by, I don't. She doesn't use a schedule as much, I am very schedule and routine oriented. We discipline differently. We use free time differently. We both work in school districts in different capacities. You get the idea!

Yet, for all our differences, these three are SO MUCH ALIKE it is freaky scary! :) They are all non stop movers. They are all on ADHD meds. One has already been diagnosed bipolar (not sure I agree with this at such young ages but that's a whole separate discussion!)

In a way, it's a GREAT relief to see such similarities. It takes some of the "it's my fault as the parent" feeling away. Those days when Braeden is off the wall movement in public and people are staring, I feel like shouting out "Talk to the birth family, THEY created this, it's NOT my discipline or lack thereof which I KNOW is what you're thinking!" Or maybe I could just get a t-shirt printed up with a similar saying? :)

So... nature vs. nurture... I think that we often forget or don't fully understand the capacity to which heredity actually impacts a child's development. And when we have "rough" or hard to parent kids, it's a good thing to remember. To take some of that self-inflicted pressure and blame away. And to continue to lay them in God's hands. To give them to Him. And to hopefully be the best guide we can be to the gifts we're entrusted with.


Kathy C. said...

I always thought it was how you raise them until I adopted children. Two of them are so much like (separate) parents they've never met.... (THe others probably are too but we don't know anything about the parents.)

:)De said...

That's a good word, Lisa. I know my belief in nature vs. nurture has changed since becoming a parent.

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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