Life & Whatnot, My Family, Random Observations, The Mom Part

Nature vs. Nurture

Anyone who has children knows that the whole nature vs. nurture argument is practically moot. No matter on which side of the argument your loyalties tend to be, your own children are likely to make you question your own position.

According to Saul McLeod,

In practice hardly anyone today accepts either of the extreme positions.  There are simply too many “facts” on both sides of the argument which are inconsistent with an “all or nothing” view.  So instead of asking whether child development is down to nature or nurture the question has been reformulated as “How much?”  That is to say, given that heredity and environment both influence the person we become, which is the more important? (full article)

For what it’s worth, today I lean strongly on the Nature side of the debate. I find it very hard to believe that children are born as anything even resembling a “blank slate” to be formed exclusively by environmental factors. And, while I’m certainly not an expert, I do have a lot of children … including identical twins. They are all very uniquely different.


After taking several psychology courses in high school and college and reading practically any psychological literature concerning nature vs. nurture that I could get my hands on, I was solidly of the opinion that Nurture ruled basic outcome.

But, in 1995 something momentous happened that made me reevaluate my stance. My husband, who was adopted when he was only three days old, and I met his birth mother and her family for the very first time. He and his birth mother had the same smile and even the same laugh; their philosophies and educations were similar and they shared the same quick wit and dry sense of humor. It was unbelievable and wonderful to witness. I’d met his adoptive family five years earlier and, while some similarities were present, he seemed to me always a singularity in his family; but meeting the genetically linked family … well, everything seemed to click right into place. In fact, I remember having a very sober moment of clarity and thinking to myself, Ahhh. Now Marc makes so much more sense. In fact, his biological family actually mirrored my own. I was immediately comfortable in their midst. And, if memory serves, my husband was too. And yet, there were glaring differences.


The frightening truth is, I have serious doubts that my sweet spice would be the same amazing, frustrating, incredible man, husband, and father he is today had it not been for the intervention of his loving adoptive parents. His experiences, economic challenges, spiritual influences, and early life choices would have been, could have been, so drastically different. What sort of man might he have become? One thing I know for sure, his steadfast devotion to duty and family is so obviously a byproduct of the closely-knit, supportive, and secure home environment the Allen family provided.

So, I suppose that the debate isn’t as simple as one or the other. It seems more likely that the answer falls somewhere on the spectrum between the two. Who knows really? Gah! Maybe it has something to do with birth order…

What are your thoughts?


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