Before I had kids I was intrigued by the nature v. nurture debate.
I felt quite sure that nurture had a lot to do with how kids were.
That parents and the people around them could affect the outcome of their offspring and if those children were beastly, it was THEIR PARENT’S FAULT!!
(I’m sure there was a lot of furious finger pointing and wagging going on now I come to think of it.)
I was absolutely, positively sure I was right.
I had kids.
As you know, if you’ve been reading this blog for more than a couple of days, I have twins:
They are ten.
They are boys.
They were born just two minutes apart.
They come from the same gene pool.
Experienced the same pre-natal environment.
And the same learn-as-you-go parenting.
They are compleeeeetely different.
One is an outgoing, cheeky, artistic, readaholic.
The other is a quieter, more cerebral, analytical, engineer type.
And they have always been like this. From birth. My outgoing, artistic child got so fed up in the nice, cosy, warm place I was taking such care to provide him, that he wanted out. My little engineer who was perfectly happy to stay put, entertaining himself much as he does now, struggled, even though he was much bigger and stronger than his brother.
These differences have been a challenge at times.
When they were little, we spent hardly any time on the weekends as a family because we couldn’t take them to the same places.
If we took them to a model railway show, one of them would stand for hours looking underneath all the workings to see how it was done, the other would be getting cuffed for touching the layouts by some overweight, Grizzly Adams in a dirty T-shirt.
As such though, I have the perfect laboratory conditions for undertaking experiments.
And I can tell you, quite solemnly and quite certainly.
There is no such thing as nurture.
I have come to the conclusion that the whole debate is a ruse to make us parents feel we have power, influence, and control over how our children turn out.
Because let’s face it, how they turn out is like getting a gold star. It’s a stamp of approval, a mark of acceptance, a badge that we can hold up and shout (sounds of a drum roll, cymbals crashing, please.)
But, I digress.
There might be something to this nature or nurture thing.
But I’m quite sure it’s not a 50/50 split. Or even 60/40 in our case.
Over the years, I have experimented with parenting techniques and different environments for each boy. Rewards will work for one, consequences work better for the other. Routines for one, deadlines for the other. Activities with lots of touching, pressing and moving for one, lectures, observation and reflection for the other.
I’ve learned this the hard way, by reading, brainstorming, hypothesizing, testing and observing. Parenting by scientific method.
But when they’re young?
Thank goodness for two parents, I say.
Deep pockets help, too.
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I am participating in a Blog Every Day For 30 Days Challenge advocated by Chris Brogan. I am doing this with the lovely Mary Ulrich who writes for Parents and Caregivers of Adults with Disabilities at Climbing Every Mountain. Check her out!