For all the rocky roads that are travelled in this life that is parenthood, amongst the many things that are so beautiful to observe in our children, there is one thing above all that is my favourite to witness – and that it the magic of genetics and power of environmental influence in our children. Otherwise known as the nature or nurture debate in child development.
As soon as your little ones enter the world, as soon as their features start forming, as soon as they start developing their own personalities, likes and dislikes, the magic of genetics stares you in the face with all its wonders.
It’s amazing how they can be the most perfect combination (or sometimes not-so perfect combination) of your and your partners genes. A stubborn streak here, a crazy streak there…or so we like to think…
Yes, it’s true that us parents do like to think that much of this is down to genetics and perhaps at the very outset, that makes sense but thereafter, however how much of this is actually down to genetics and how much is down to environmental factors?
Amazingly, despite the fact we love to put so much down to genetics when it comes to our children’s personalities, quirks, likes and dislikes, the influence of environmental factors is probably far greater than you think, with researchers generally agreeing that only 40% of personality traits can be traced back to genetics (read more here).
What’s interesting is that perhaps those personality traits we often like to think of as inherited from mum or dad, may not necessarily be so, but instead are more likely to be shaped by exposure to the environment that we have created around them, which in a way is often an embodiment of our own personalities, likes and dislikes. Of course, different factors come into play as they get older, and their worlds widen with greater variety in people and environments.
With that being said, after hundreds studies on the personalities of children raised by adoptive parents, it would appear that adopted children’s personalities are in fact more like those of their biological parents whom they have never met, than those of their adoptive parents (more on that here).
So is it really the magic of genetics? Is it the power of influencing environmental factors? The nature versus nurture battle will continue on, but while we try to figure out once and for all if personality is really inherited or rubbed off on us, we can still marvel at the outcome, either way.