Nature vs. Nurture

By:  Staci Stallings

The other day I went to my son’s gymnastics class.  During the class several of the mothers began talking about their children, how they learn, how different parenting is than what they expected.  Two of the mothers had only one child.  A couple of us had multiple.  One of the Moms (I’ll call her Mom A) was talking about how she had taken psychology classes and how they had talked about nature (how a child is born) vs. nurture (how a child is raised).  She said in college, she would have argued that nurture was the most important factor, but when she became a parent, she realized that nature is (as she said), “90% of the equation and we have this little sliver of influence.”

Of course we all laughed because as mothers we know how innate and powerful nature is.  Some children are born laid back and docile.  Others want to go screaming with their hair on fire as soon as they can roll over.

The others talked a little about potty-training (I’m thankfully beyond that stage!), and then I spoke about reading.  How each of my kids is so different in the challenges they faced when they started reading.  The oldest was a slow reader, not that she had a lot of trouble, but she just couldn’t read very fast.  My middle one could read the whole library in an afternoon (an overstatement, but wow!  I never had to explain reading to her AT ALL.)  Now my youngest has dyslexia, and that has opened a whole NEW set of challenges.

But as we were talking, I said something profound that I don’t think I came up with.  I said, “The problem is you have to nurture each nature so differently.”

I think THAT is the crux of parenting.  Learning to be there for that particular child in the way that he or she most needs.

The problem is:  Every one is so different!

My oldest is INDEPENDENT.  I mean her picture is probably listed as Example one in the dictionary under the word “Independent.”  And she always has been.  When she was first having trouble reading, I tried to help.  Big mistake.  She did not want my help.  She didn’t even want me to offer my help.  What I learned is the value of PEOPLE BESIDES MOM.  She will gladly listen to Grandma, her teachers, her friends, even her dad.  So if I want her to get help, I send her to those people.

My middle one is a Mom Kid.  She loves to do things with me.  We went shopping one day recently and spent… NINE HOURS shopping.  And it was FUN.  Now anyone who knows me, knows I don’t shop.  I don’t like to shop.  I don’t want to shop.  I don’t shop if I don’t have to.  But shopping with her was a breeze and actually a lot of fun.  She loves to read also, and she loves to read what I love to read, so we read little, teen romance books and talk about them.  She loves to watch movies and football.  She also has this thing about being perfect in music and sports (don’t know where she gets that. HA!).  So there is nuturing about playing to enjoy not just to win.

Then we get to my son, the kid who has no concept of not being able to do something with his hands and head.  He called my husband one day with the following question, “Okay, Dad.  I’m out here in the well house, and the four-wheeler won’t start.  I’ve got the seat off and the battery charger out and ready.  All I need to know is which one to hook up to which post.”  He’s 7!!!!!  (In my defense, I didn’t even know he was out in the well house until my husband called me.  Okay, maybe that wasn’t a good defense!)  However, he is also really soft-hearted.  He likes to earn days out (bowling, swimming, etc.).  He doesn’t like to be pushed to do things he doesn’t want to do, and he will fight you.  But he will do just about anything to get to do something he enjoys doing.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Holy Spirit was right saying that.  You do have to nurture each nature differently.

Then I think how much harder God has it with us.  He doesn’t have three kids.  He has billions.  And we’re all different.  Some of us are really independent.  Some turn up our noses at doing anything He says.  Some need someone to give us direction.  Some just really need a shoulder to cry on.  Even more, most of us need and do all of those things at different times.

What I love so much about God is that if you really watch, you will see HOW He parents each of us just the way we need to be.

Not a bad lesson.

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