By Kim Morrill, LCSW-C
I have two daughters that have no biological connection. It makes me think about the ever present debate about “nature versus nurture” frequently. At times I have had the briefly held belief that I am an awesome parent. My eldest eats all of her vegetables and tries new foods; she has a (sort of) clean room, and shares my love of singing. What an awesome mom I am! I have imparted my knowledge and emotional wellbeing onto her and she has soaked it all up.
Here comes child number 2. She will eat pasta and peanut butter and jelly. That is it. I am not joking, that is it. I have decided to consider jelly a vegetable because she will not eat anything else that has natural coloring. Her room is messy and by that I mean it looks as if an elephant has chosen to take her clean clothes to make a bed so that a pig can take a nap. She cannot sing but loves to dance. She loves to snuggle and is more empathetic than I could ever dream to be.
The reality is that I did not teach these things to either of my girls. The first girl (the one that eats vegetables) created in me a judgment of other parents that feed their children only junk food. Then I got it. I did the exact same thing with my next child. I presented a wide variety of healthy choices. I encouraged and praised her when she tried something new. NOPE. I used the same parenting style, completely different result. All of those judgments went out the window. I got it.
So here are the things that I have learned are biological:
1. Being able to match socks
2. Being able to tell a joke
3. Being able to take a joke
4. An inability to keep paint off of the furniture
5. Needing to sleep with a light on
6. Needing to complain about a light being on when you are trying to sleep
7. Picking up worms
8. Killing stink bugs
9. Interest in the awesomeness of a snuggle
10. Being able to find an outfit or make a decision about anything on school mornings
11. Desire to learn to ride a bike without training wheels
12. Fear of heights
13. Fear of sheep
14. Self -adjustment to heat
15. Finding shoes that are right in front of you
16. Desire to brush your teeth
17. Crying on command
18. Hiding to avoid being found by a parent
19. Finding it funny to scare a parent by jumping out of a hiding spot
20. Understanding of things NOT to say to others
Here are the things that nurture has offered:
1. Saying please and thank you
2. Saying I’m sorry
3. Feeling loved
So that is it. When they are tantruming in Target I have decided that it is nature. When they are unexpectedly kind to one another, I take full credit. The moral of the story…. Don’t be so hard on yourself and blame it all on nature.
By Kim Morrill, LCSW-C, JCS Child and Adolescent Therapist
Because parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.