I don’t know how much energy parents who only have biological children devote to this question. Probably it depends on the parent in question. But every adoptive parent I know asks, sometimes in wonder, sometimes in puzzlement, where does this come from? As in, did I create this particular quirk of this particular child, or were they born with this?
Sometimes it’s fun to sift through each of my children’s traits and try to puzzle out how they came to be that way. I like puzzles, and this is kind of a mental game for me. So play along as we analyze how my children came to be the way they are.
Creative Cat – loves to draw and is quite good at it – clearly nature. Neither Mr. Fixit nor I have any kind of artistic talent.
Queen Bee – bossy control freak. Ahhh…this is a good puzzle. Definitely some inborn nature at work here. This girl has attempted to control us since the first day we met her. But, she’s not the only control freak in this family. I’m not called Mamadragon for nothing. So…have I nurtured her inner control freak? Why yes, yes I have. Am I sorry to have done so? Oh yes, yes I am. But she’s going to make a darn fine lawyer or other bossy professional some day.
Tonka Tim – would rather eat carrots than chocolate. Too easy. 100% nature. No one else in this family is that crazy. Let’s try something more challenging: solves his problems by yelling and pushing. Hmmm…well the pushing must be nature, but the yelling? I’m sure his sisters have helped teach him that. So let’s call that one partly nurture.
So far it’s looking like nature is dominating my children’s personalities, but there are some things we all have in common that might tip the scales. We all love animals. Score one for nurture. We all love to read or look at books. Another one for nurture. We’re all terrible couch potatoes who would rather watch cartoons on tv than get exercise. Go nurture!
Of course this is a fun game but it’s really just mental exercise. The truth is, my children were born with particular traits and the environment they grow up in helps to shape those traits. Some traits, like that strange carrot-loving one, will not be nurtured and may eventually be extinguished. Some, like Creative Cat’s talent for drawing, will be encouraged and perhaps enhanced.
And some things, like my complicated middle child, will just stay a complex puzzle that is impossible to solve.