For a long time parents have been discussing nature versus nurture and how it relates to a child’s development and skills as they get older.
It’s certainly one of the more controversial parenting topics to talk about as some people have strong opinions on this subject.
Understanding the debate and the science helps parents determine what they believe about their child’s abilities.
In this blog post, I will look at how they both shape a child’s development.
What is nature (in terms of child development)?
Nature is what a child is born with in terms of their genetic makeup. As parents you have no control over things like this, such as height, eye colour etc. The debate arises when you start looking at a child’s behaviour and intelligence.
Are they born with these traits, or does it come from their upbringing?
What is nurture?
Nurture, on the other hand, can be defined as how the social environment has a significant influence on a child’s upbringing in terms of their character, wellbeing and skills.
Nature vs Nurture in Child Development
The debate of nature versus nurture has to do with the question of how much of a child’s personality or abilities are determined by their genes and innate qualities and how much is determined by their experiences growing up.
People who believe that nature has a large effect on their children, think this because nature is in their genes and all personality and physical traits are already determined when a child is born.
For them, this means that no matter how or where a child is raised, they are going to be the same person thanks to their genes.
On the other hand some parents and scientists believe that nurturing a child and a child’s upbringing will have a much greater impact on who they are as they grow up, than just their genes alone.
They think that environmental and social factors, including where a child grows up and what kind of food or medical care they receive, will have a larger impact on who they are as they age.
A Brief History
Francis Galton studied eugenics and explored trait evolution, as well as trait inheritance. He completed his work in 1889 with Natural Inheritance, and this showed that nature was more involved and more important in the development of a child than nurture was.
By researching how parents passed on their heredity to their children, he believed that he made a clear connection between genes and family lines and the way that a child grew up and their personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
John Locke was the first person to believe that all people were born without any built-in knowledge, which was in direct contradiction to what Francis Galton believed.
He thought that the only way for individuals to learn was through experiences, perception, and guidance from older family members.
What Are The Advantages Of Understanding This Subject?
A lot of good has come out of scientists and parents studying nature versus nurture, including parents all around the world learning how to better love their children.
This means that parents who may struggle with explosive or challenging behaviors will learn how to support their child with the love that they need to grow.
Additionally, parents are often better able to see examples of themselves in their children, which can give them much more compassion than if they believed that their children were only a by-product of where they live.
This debate also makes parents question where and how they are raising their children. It often results in parents trying to better their children’s lives by moving to a better area or making healthier choices for them.
Disadvantages Of Focusing On This Subject
Even though there are some clear benefits to this argument and parents and scientists are constantly trying to find the answer to the nature versus nurture debate, there are also some disadvantages.
Unfortunately, there are some parents who so strongly believe in either nature versus nurture that they are unwilling to consider other factors as playing a role in their child’s development or personality.
Additionally, with the spread of information online, some parents are being fed misinformation about nature versus nurture, making this topic something that can become very heated. It’s always best to make sure to talk to a pediatrician about any concerns regarding a child’s development.
Finally, not all arguments for or against nature or nurture are seated in reality of the human experience and environment.
This can make it really difficult for some people to separate fact from fiction.
What are some examples of nature vs nuture arguments?
I’m sure you know people who believe obesity is caused by lifestyle choices alone, but there have been various studies which have shown that it’s more complicated than that. Some believe that genetics can have a big impact on obesity as well as high blood pressure.
Another common debate is whether people are born with a talent or gift at something, or whether it’s all hard work and application. Was Roger Federer born with his ability to play tennis? Was Mozart born with his talent for music? Parents obviously have a huge role to play in this as talent is nothing without hard work and applying yourself.
Here are some more examples of parenting nature vs nurture arguments
How much influence do parents have on their children?
No matter which side of the debate you agree with, it’s clear that parents have a lot of control and influence over their children. This is because parenting style will play a huge role in how children express their personality and their behavior.
What happens with twins who are separated at birth?
Parents and scientists who put more credence in the role of nature will appreciate knowing that twins who are separated at birth often show certain behaviors that are a clear result of the influence of genetics.
From overall happiness to gum diseases, separated twins are often very similar in their personality and overall health.
This doesn’t mean that they weren’t impacted by the families who raised them, but rather that their genes, or nature, had a huge role in who they would be when they grew up.
Why does this debate matter?
Some people are confused about why this debate even matters and if it is worth discussion. From a genetic standpoint, the more that doctors understand genes and their role in human development, the better they are going to be able to find answers and treatment for major medical problems.
Additionally, this is a great way for parents to better understand their children. When they understand why a child acts the way that they do, parents are often better equipped to deal with challenging behaviors.
Can nature and nurture coexist?
The idea that children’s personalities are partially determined by genes is understood, but the nature of how parents and their relationship with their child will play a huge role in how their child grows up, how they express themselves, and what kind of adult they are.
By understanding the role or both nature and nurture, parents are able to better raise happy and healthy children.
Do parents really make a difference?
No matter if you believe in nature, nurture, or a combination of both, parents play a huge role in a child’s development, growth, and strength.
How parents raise their children, as well as the environment in which children grow up, can greatly influence them, no matter what their genetic makeup contains.
Children who are raised in nurturing environments are going to greatly benefit developmentally, no matter their family type, gender, or socio-economic status.
So what should parents do?
It’s important for parents to recognize that genes do play a role in who their children are, but they need to be just as aware of how they interact with their children on a daily basis.
Early stimulation with babies is important, and parents need to continue to nurture loving relationships with their children as they grow for healthy and happy kids.