Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Nature vs Nurture: Are We Fighting a Losing Battle?

Friday, 16 March 2018

Nature vs Nurture: Are We Fighting a Losing Battle?

I keep getting told off. 

I have a habit of calling my son by an assortment of names which allude to his rather mischievous tendencies. These include, but are not limited to: monster, rascal, menace, terror and trouble. My husband tells me that, by using these particular terms of endearment, I am at risk of setting my youngest up with a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now, whilst I harbour my doubts that the outcome is solely dependent on my affectionate name-calling, I can appreciate that there is a risk that when put under pressure (and when his vocabulary extends beyond his sister's name, favourite CBeebies pooch and enquiries after my physical and emotional wellbeing) he may choose the easy, less noble option "knowing" that people already believe him to be wayward. So it has me thinking about that age old conundrum of nature versus nurture.

Looking for Trouble
My eldest child appears to have been born wielding her moral compass with its bearing set fast towards good and true; never to be led off the right path. A warning or reprimand is so rarely required that when it is uttered it's so foreign to her ears that an immediate deluge will erupt from her little crestfallen face. We used to just watch her; bathing in the warm glow of other people's compliments about her exemplary behaviour, congratulating ourselves on our parenting prowess. Check us! We are nailing this "raising an angelic child" thing. We should write a book! It can be littered with all of our handy hints and tips on how to win at this game we call parenting. This is as easy as incurring a hangover after the age of 30, I don't know what everyone has been complaining about, I mean they basically raise themselves. Any doubts or queries you may have regarding our credentials, we urge you to refer to exhibit A: the saintly sister.

Exhibit A: The Saintly Sister
We got cocky. Please refer to exhibit B: the scamp.
It's not that he is a bad child. Far from from it. He, like his sister exudes empathy and can often be found stroking someone's back if they have hurt themselves, mirroring his sister's tormented face when she is upset and silencing everyone when he happens upon a sleeping baby. It's just that he likes to "test his boundaries", exercise his "curiosity" and "find his own path". He lacks any awareness when it comes to danger and, given half the chance, would probably be found licking peanut butter out of the plug socket, having spooned it in there himself with a sharp metal implement. He routinely tries to touch passing cars, scale vertiginous heights and ride his scuttle bug off the top step all whilst brandishing a menacing grin. His "spirited nature" rejoices in the word "no" merely acting to flame the fire of his curiosity. Without faltering he will continue to perform whichever act you had requested that he desist, merely doing you the honour of sparing you a fleeting glance and a sly smile. Raise your voice and it will merely expedite the process. Move towards him and he shall relinquish his grasp on the offending item, jut out his bottom lip and emit an ear piercing shriek that threatens all glass objects within a five mile radius. 

Rascal Child
These two children were raised under the same roof, by the same parents with the same methods of disciplining (in case you are wondering; ask them nicely to stop, state firmly that they need to stop, raise the voice slightly and apply a warning tone, step towards the child while issuing a meaningful glare and if they still continue then extricate the relevant mutinous offspring from the offending article/location/sibling/small animal.) I don't believe we have pandered to one or been particularly unyielding with the other and yet we seem to have ended up with two wildly different species. 

He's the Yin to Her Yang
Therefore I must conclude that whilst nurturing definitely has its part to play, the underlying nature will never be tamed. 
But who would want to tame it anyway?
Atlantic Ocean? Sure, let's dive in!
Lucy At Home

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