Nature/Nurture - the influence (or not) of parents/caregivers

When you think about the kind of person you are as an adult, how much of your personality do you attribute to your parents/caregivers?

Do you feel that your parents/caregivers have shaped who you are, or do you think that you have always been your own person regardless of their attempts to shape you?

I found myself pondering this when I was at a party with a number of parents who started discussing their children. It was interesting to me how much they attributed their children’s personality to how they had been parented (as opposed to the child’s school experiences or relationships with their friends).

I certainly attribute a lot of my values and manners to my upbringing, but I’ve always felt that my personality was my own.

I think it’s a mixture. I’m like my mother in many ways - stubborn, somewhat distant, curious, not a “people person”, and the way we display anger is identical. It’s become a point of humor in my family just how much like my mom I am.
Yet, I’m adopted.
We differ in many ways, though, too. I’m musically inclined - neither she nor my dad could carry a beat to save their lives. If I could afford to be a perpetual student I would - dad left school in 6th grade and mom barely graduated high school (my biological parents - father was a university professor in the school of music, mother was his student).

I look at my daughter and she is very much my child, but despite not being around her dad in years, she has many of his mannerisms and traits (she IS a people person, very gregarious).

You might find this New York Times article interesting:

It’s about two sets of fraternal twins (different families) in Colombia who are actually two sets of identical twins, except one of each of the brothers was switched at birth.

In other words they were two sets of identical twins, but one brother each was switched.

It’s a fascinating analysis of the effect of nature (identical genes) and genetics (raised in completely different environments).

Fascinating story. But I think you glitched a word or two there.

A big chunk, but a comparably big chunk I attribute to the interactions I had with my sister, interactions at school and in the neighborhood etc with other kids, and with other adults and institutions.

Nearly everyone vastly overemphasizes the parent-child relationship when discussing the nurture side of the equation. Not that it isn’t indeed a huge factor but it isn’t the whole story. Socialization and the influence of other people’s interactions on who a person becomes involves a whole lot more than just what the parents do.


I blame my upbringing.

Wow, that really was a fascinating read!