Friday, February 8, 2013

Nature vs. Nurture

I have a wealth of experience to draw from on this topic, brought to the Loose Blogger Consortium this week by my good buddy shackman.  There are clickable links on the right hand side of this page that you can use to check out what all the other active members of the LBC have to say on the same topic.


My son is my step son, but I've been with him and the Lady F since he was 1 1/2 years of age.  In other words, I was the one there to nurture him the whole distance while contributing nothing to what nature handed him.

You can see that we do not look alike.  My voice is kind of reedy and not very deep, while my boy's voice makes Ramana and his sonorous baritone sound like a Vienna Choir Boy.  He is taller than I am.  And I'm about as far as I'm willing to go with physical comparison, LOL!!!

We knew the physical would have little resemblance unless by chance.  The interesting part is to compare the behavioral traits, because that is potentially affected by both genetics and experience.  Since I was always the dad in his life and since he never spent any appreciable amount of time around his biological family (even though we are close to them), you would expect him to behave somewhat like me, modeled after my behavior.

Well, he is 33 now, so the results are pretty much ready to be tabulated.  And the answer speaks strongly in different ways for both sides.  His values are pretty consistent with mine, his sense of right and wrong, but he has mannerisms, skills and likes much more consistent with his biological family.  He doesn't think like me even if we are very close.  My daughter, who is my biological heir, does think like me in many ways that immediately jump to my attention.

Biology is a very powerful influence and it has amazed both my wife and me how much is obviously biological that we would never have suspected.  It is very clear that my son is an inheritor of his biological family.  I've got to tell you, though, that the combination sure seemed to work magic.  He is a great father, a sensitive man and ... one helluva plumber and construction boss!  Really!

17 comments:

  1. The first thing that drew my attention is the smile in your eyes … a proud dad. And your words about "your son" confirm this. Biology is one thing, but nothing is more important than the heart.
    Blessings to you and the family ~ Maxi

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  3. Between all of you, you did a fine job.

    I am often fascinated how much of Elly's paternal grandmother comes through in her, although she never met her. She has her strong character, and her great grandfather's hands, but the quick humour comes from my mammy.

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  4. @Maxi

    Agree with everything you say!

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  5. @Grannymar

    The genes carry a lot! I'm amazed at how much of behavior is not based on experience at all.

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  6. It would be hard to prove, but I think that nurture is far more of an impact than nature.

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    1. Delirious, I so disagree with you I don't know what to do with myself other than foam at the mouth. NATURE is who we are. Nurture only chisels.

      Those people (parents) who believe that a child can be molded like a piece of melted still warm wax are deluding themselves. By way of example: Why do children within the same family - under the same tutelage - still turn out so differently, deal so differently with what life throws at them? Why? The world abounds with examples.

      What's bred in the bone will come out. To give nurture its due: It will either polish that bone or make it a little rough round the edges.Old Foss Jr was lucky with both his mother and her choice of partner giving him a relatively smooth and loving ride into adulthood.

      U

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    2. Ursula, the answers to your question, yes the answers are many to that one question can be found in a remarkable book - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/books/review/the-sibling-effect-by-jeffrey-kluger-book-review.html?pagewanted=all

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  7. Old Foss, a wonderfully sensitive account of the roles of nature and nurture.

    U

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  8. Yes, when you have a situation like this, the nature and nurture aspects of one's personality can clearly show up. All the more reason for my conclusion that it should be and and not vs.

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  9. @Delirious

    There are better methods of proof than you might think. They have done studies of identical twins separated at birth to see how they were alike and how they were different. They show amazing similarities in things they like and views on life quite often, more so than with people who don't share identical starting genes. But, it gets more complex, because they also have differences unexpected and this is complicated by a whole new field of study recently developed called epigenetics. It makes for a very interesting study and I might explore it in another post.

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  10. @Ursula

    First, thanks for the compliment. I really appreciate it.

    Second, Delirious response doesn't have me upset in any way. I think it is a pretty reasonable view when you consider that she is very much service oriented. That is where I think her heart and passion lays. Am I correct, D? If so, then from her view, nurture naturally wins.

    Like I said in my last comment, it is not that either side is right or wrong so much as the issue is more complex than we earlier imagined. And that brings me to my next commenter and his vantage point!

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  11. @Rummuser

    From the way you are posing it, I agree absolutely. I don't think that is the full purpose of nature vs. nurture, though. I think the vs. is so that we can compare influences, not that they work in opposition.

    So ... the reality is in my mind definitely nature AND nurture working hand in hand to create synergistic combinations unavailable to either in isolation. But, I still think there is a place for comparison of separate effects as we do with the twin studies. Otherwise, we would never have discovered the wonder that epigenetics presents, for one thing.

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    1. All the studies explain the what. The Why is explained only in philosophy!

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  12. @Rummuser

    I agree about the why. Otherwise, we tend to try to reduce the person, the body and the mind to a machine, a very unfortunate and destructive reduction.

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  13. I have first hand knowledge that nurture can deflect/defeat/offset some very dark aspects of nature. That said, they are not in competition with each other - nurture is very much a supporting act to what nature provides us. This thread generated the discussion I was hoping for.

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  14. @shackman

    It is a good discussion. I have seen evidence of deflection and overcoming just as you say, but it is really the two working in concert that yields what life can truly offer. Great topic suggestion, shackman!

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