Nature vs Nurture.
I always misunderstood Nature vs Nurture. It's not a question of which impacts who your kids will become.
It's an all-out frigging war.
And nature has the upper-hand. I'm fighting nature with all the nurture I've got, and I hope you're rooting for me.
In case I haven't mentioned it yet in this post, I have five kids. And they're all SOOOOO different in so many ways.
Raising our first kid (our only kid for the first 2 years), we interpreted our experience as “normal.” As if any parent copying our choices would have similar experiences. Their kids would have similar reactions and behaviors.
All of the good things we experienced we took credit for. And the hard parts we tried to figure out what we could have done differently.
Then we had a second kid, and suddenly we had two data points. It was enough to let us know that we had been sorely mistaken. Yes some of the things we had done with our first child worked the same, but others were yielded completely different results.
Kid 3 gave us yet more evidence that there weren't just “2 ways to be.”
And lastly, when we ended up with twins, we were provided a natural experiment that shows how kids in the same environment can be oh so different.
With our first kid, we were spending a lot of time talking with him about “complex emotions.” “What you're feeling right now is happiness mixed with nervousness.” This is “exhaustion combined with disappointment” as the ice cream fell to the ground after bedtime.
We felt so proud of ourselves. Helping our kiddo gain the language to understand and explain complex emotions at such a young age.
Then we had kid number two. And we didn't do it at all.
Had we just become such amazing parents that we had done it subliminally? Perhaps!
Until many years later, when it became clear that our oldest has autism.
That was the reason for the differences. For the need to explain what emotions are, how they are expressed, and how they can mix and match.
Nature dealt the cards, we were just playing them as best we could.
Then there was kid number two. At age three or four we noticed a speech impediment. He was almost unintelligible to other people.
But we could understand him... Why? because we are such amazing parents! We had spent years with his older sibling, learning to listen, with sign language, patiently interpreting what he was trying to say until we were good at it!
And then we were faced with the conclusion that we had caused his speech impediment... by understanding him! If we hadn't understood him, he would have learned to enunciate better... and wouldn't have a speech impediment.
Until kid number 5.
When kid number 5 started speaking the same way kid number 2 had, we weren't going to succumb to the same mistake. Every word we were able to make out, we made her repeat correctly.
And it didn't help.
Turns out, it was actually nature.
So there's your answer. And here's the silver lining. It means, that as a parent, you can blame everything bad on nature. And take credit for all the good as your nurture.