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Thinking Thursday: On Nature vs. Nuture

Do you ever think back to that Biology class you had in high school, to that day when the topic of “Heredity vs. Environment” was introduced? I loved that session, and I loved it again when it came up in my college Psych class. I loved it again when I came across it in a parenting book, and I am loving it now as I watch it in action.

Heredity vs. Environment can be boiled down into one thought when it comes to our little ones: what quality will they posses that came straight out of my gene pool and what quality will they possess as a result of the home life I create?

We all do it if we have more than one child. We watched the first one meet milestones with blissful ignorance—reveling in their first steps, the day they let go of the binky dependence, the day they started sounding out letters, the day they started reading. The second child? Not so lucky. Everything number two does reminds me of when number one did it. The first child, for the most part, escapes the constant scrutiny that my second is now under. And now, I think to myself almost every day—James never did that!

At 19 months he never danced on the table, let himself out the front door, threw food at his mother or laughed at himself when he farted! James was quiet and sweet, a pacifist! Now my daughter? A few words come to mind, including “firecracker,” and “precocious” and “spirited.” Love them both, of course.

Then it starts, that old Heredity vs. Environment class in my head. So, is James more like me? Is Ella more like her Dad? Is James coming late to tantrums because now he has an imp sister to deal with? Does Ella not speak yet because her brother does everything for her? I recognize traits in both children that resemble both parents. But I really do wonder how much environment, or having an older or younger sibling sways the pendulum even more in that direction.

Here is a great example of what I am referring to. Let’s take reading stories. Does a child’s interest in books come from a parent, or is it a learned behavior from repetitive story times? Do they learn to like reading, or are they born interested readers? Does a child with one parent an avid reader and one not, become a reader merely by virtue of story time being an important moment in the day’s routine?

I started reading books at night to James before bedtime when he was about 6 months old. (Yes, I was that first time preggo dork that also read to him in the womb. That pretty much makes me want to vomit, reading now.) Anyhow, he took to books immediately.

He was fascinated with the illustrations, pointed to the words, asked for particular ones to be read—he even memorized a few of them and could “read” them word for word by the time he was two. He will be 4 next month, and I am proud to say that he is definitely a reader. Not just sight words—reading. Words like “tunnel” and “bridge.” My Dad just told me that I didn’t start reading until I was 5. Really? I was SURE he got his early reading skill from me!

Ella on the other hand thinks books are for standing on, are convenient places to set her sippy cup, or great places from which to rip a piece of paper she might need. I have tried and tried and TRIED to read with her, and it is a futile affair—no sooner do I get her settled, read the title and turn the page has she shoved the book aside and left!

Sometimes I do the old make her jealous routine—you know, “Come here and let’s read a book James, just you and I” but does she care? Nope! It is frustrating for me, especially as I love that snuggle time with James, and would love having an extra moment to snuggle my girl, but she is just go, go go all the time. WHAT? You want me to SIT there while you READ me a BOOK? No thanks!

So you tell me–in this instance, is her lack of interest in story time heredity, or environment?

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Article by ShadyTree

Allison just returned from NYC where she received the Mom of the Year Award for her tireless devotion to all things motherhood. And then she woke up, realized her son was late for pre-school, her daughter hadn't had a bath in 3 days and her own eyebrows looked like they belonged on Chewbacca from Star Wars. On a day-to-day basis she juggles all the tough stuff that most Moms do, but tries to remember that at the end of the day it isn't about how perfect her life appears to be to everyone else, it's about how perfect it is for HER that counts. ShadyTree tagged this post with: , , Read 6 articles by

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3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. CreativeDecoMom says:

    OMG!!! That is my life! Oldest loves to read, is quite and loves learning. The younger is loud, crazy, and wants nothing to do with the books I still read to her every night while she would rather play. In fact, this was a topic I wrote about a few weeks ago. My two kids couldn’t be more different. Nature definitely rules!

  2. Allison says:

    Creative Deco Mom–isn’t it just amazing how different they can be! Wish I could have ten (okay, not really–maybe 4) so I could see how different they all turned out to be!

  3. CreativeDecoMom says:

    I’ll stick with my two. The youngest is more like have 2 or 3 on her own. The oldest, I could deal with a few of.

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