Nature vs Nurture

An age old question/debate/station that can dominate our lives or allow us to make the best of a given situation. Perhaps controversial, maybe even monumental, it’s perhaps worth a bit of optics to glean some perspective.

When you play as a child, you enter into a A round of unbridled imagination where are you are so very adept at reading body language, or more specifically reading faces. Picture a group of children playing a simple game of tag, they are running around laughing and giggling and by and large everyone is having a good time… Now picture somebody getting frustrated because they can’t tag a certain person and that frustration grows to the point where their face changes. Children instantly know that this innocent game of tag has now turned into something that is making someone unhappy… So they’ll either become more competitive or give in. Picture walking into a store and your child is hinting around that wanting some thing or the other. As you walk through the isles the hints are getting more specific and more elaborate, all the while your child is staring intently at you and can tell by the expression on your face whether you are about to give in or whether you have hardened your results… All of this happens without any mention of such. We can even throw in, for example, different economic backgrounds and stations in life and what we will find by and large is that this ability to read body language and faces in particular is accurate across-the-board. To put it another way whether the child comes from high economic status or low economic status the ability remains an innate part of childhood.

Now think about your family, and your family history. Is there a history of aggressive behavior? Is there a history of crime, mental illness, or some other malignant situation? Now the reverse is also true, has there been a history of harmony and happiness with none of the above mentioned maladies in play? It’s a decent argument that we can learn from to question whether we are shaped by nature vs nurture. As a father we are going to take our cues from our fathers and perhaps our fathers fathers if we have an experience that allows that to happen. We can also take cues from what the perception of fatherhood might be in a given culture and try and apply that to our own family, or we can take subtle cues that our children can throw out or that social media might portray and try to apply that to our station. I have noticed in my experience that dad’s are very hesitant to engage in discussing ways they can better their fatherhood experience, I myself was very stunned by how much I didn’t know while not pretending to know much to begin with. Well it can be argued there is no wrong way to parent so long as we are present in our children’s lives, show up, there’s consistency and regularly then there is much to be said about the way in which we star our children’s lives while we are present.

We have all heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child, or it takes a neighborhood to raise a child, have you ever really thought about what this is saying? On the surface the short answer would be we are the company we keep! But it goes much deeper than that because often times we do not choose the neighborhood we grow up in as that was chosen by our parents. Some neighborhoods are much quieter than others, some much more dangerous than others, and some a bridge between both of those things. You can also make the argument that while a neighborhood may be a little more violent or dangerous that does not necessarily mean that it lacks fundamental teaching opportunities for the children that live in it. The same can be said about a neighborhood that is very pleasant and enjoys the kindness we would all hope to be living among. It is based largely in our reaction to external stimulus which shapes who we become as well as who our children become. Of course we want what is best for them, of course we want them to be safe and happy, of course we are going to do what needs to be done to make sure our children have the best start they can have and the best future they can hope for.

If we are open to different roles, open to the experience of others around us, and consistently present in a meaningful way in the lives of our children and our community I believe that we will ultimately encompass the best parts of nature and nurture and combined them into one fluid lesson that we teach through our actions and intentions that shape both our families and beyond. To put it another way, we are living in a perpetual state of reacting to or living with the choices we make. If you are inherently a nurturer, that is your station(nurture). If you leave it all to chance and live as though everything happens despite our best efforts (nature) then where does that leave us room to improve?

Something to think about I suppose…(::)