I remember back in the late 60’s during my first psychology class the professor discussing whether children’s development was dictated by the way they were born (genetics, nature) or what their parents did with them at home especially during childhood (nurture). Back then, the view swung toward nurture. It was a hopeful message.
Good parenting could overcome lots of obstacles. It was the idea that children were quite malleable and that with the right experiences, they could be taught to be builders, doctors, lawyers, teachers, or even presidents (who’d ever want to do that to their child??!). Parents were considered pretty much responsible for teaching their kids morality, self-control, friendliness, social manners, and just about everything else. It was at once a highly optimistic outlook, but at the same time put lots of pressures on parents—especially when a kid didn’t turn out as hoped for.
Well, during the last four decades, this debate has swung back and forth over time. Sometimes the forces on the side of nature as science has developed a greater appreciation of the strong influences of genetics on personality, happiness, extroversion, introversion, and intelligence. Other factors such as neighborhood, siblings, economic status and other factors have also been found to influence child development. But the pendulum continues to swing every few years. And there is usually a best-selling book that proclaims a final breakthrough understanding.
Well, I do have the final answer. The definitive argument that will once and for all end the debate (and push our new book on Child Psychology and Development For Dummies onto the New York Times best seller list) will be provided in four words. Are you ready? Here it is. Is it nature or nurture?
Photo by isla_yelo, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
“Both and it depends”
Good. Now that we have that issue solved, we can go on to provide you with more information about raising healthy kids. You’ll see this information in a series of blogs over the next few weeks. Take care.