Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nature versus Nurture

Developmental Psychology classes in college in the last millennium brought about my understanding of Nature versus Nurture: The Great Debate.  At the time, I'm thinking 50-50.  I knew we had " good genes", as evidenced by a lack of handicap in any manner among any living relatives, French Canadian inbreeding notwithstanding.  Well, except for crossed eyes.  And that ain't bad.  And I knew my parents were great...we were a high achieving family, raised in Roman Catholic Tradition with a shot of bartender's kids realism.  Life at home was fun, and my mother had a saintly patience.  We had it good and we knew it.

When it came time to raise my own child, I expected no less.  Well, once I got the hang of it and quit obsessing over psycho-babble crap, I became a pretty good mom.  Somewhat like my mother with my Dad's orneriness. I loved my son unconditionally, and life was good.

However, at the age of 18 I had promised my son he could meet his birth mother if she allowed it.  A year of planning and treading softly and last December it happened.  At her home, we sat on the couch across from each other....Mother Nature and Mother Nurture.

"He has his father's eyes."

I think it was the first thing she said, beyond social niceties.  I know it shocked me some.

He does have really beautiful eyes, and I've always told him so.  To me, he didn't look that much like his half brothers and sister, but she may have seen it differently. 

Her children seemed to have impeccable manners, while Benny, raised somewhat democratically, tended to let his opinions fly left and right with ease, but not overly so, he is kind hearted by nature. Or nurture, I'm not sure.  Probably both, from the looks of it.

They did seem to feel an immediate ease with each other.  He had brought his photographs he had taken with black and white film with a WWII era camera.

"You should be a photographer." she told him.

Why hadn't I ever said that to him? I felt bad. I guess because he always wanted to be an inventor and I knew it.  I bet most inventors have photography in their background.  I know a famous scientist I went to school with who used to take black and white photos of eggs.  What more proof does one need?

Dad and I left Ben alone with his birth Mom for a bit so they could cover areas they might not with us there.  Later he  told me what she said.

He said she told him, "You can tell a Swede, but you can't tell him much!"

Perfect.  So that part came from nature!!  He is a little stubborn, and with me and my stubbornness, we butt heads quite often.  I wonder, do the Swedes and the French get along on the world stage?  Maybe it's a cultural thing.

Not one second of time was wasted on jealousy, and only a bit of neuroticism on my part, being ingrained in my nature.  Overall, it was very interesting.

Still, Nature versus Nurture: The Great Debate.  Having witnessed them both in the flesh, I still think it's 50-50.

In the end, it only matters to be loved for who you are.

1 comment:

Happy Elf Mom said...

I love Ben's birth mom already. She sounds well-grounded and very selfless and thoughtful. I'm so glad she chose you guys to be Ben's parents one way or another. :)