Robert Johnson D.M.D.
Integrative Health Blog
The best-seller and Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Nurture Assumption, Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, by Judith Rich Harris makes a compelling case, based on sound research on identical twins and other data, that within reasonable attempts to provide our kids with a non-abusive environment, typical parenting does not matter much in how our children turn out! I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but since the dawn of the scientific age, nutty assumptions and superstitions such as the earth being the center of the universe, have been challenged and abandoned. The belief that parenting matters in how kids turn out is just another sacred cow destined for the waste bins of history.
But take heart, because now you may assertively point out to those obnoxiously, proud parents who raised exceptionally talented and gifted children, that they are full of braggadocio hot air. And if despite your best efforts, you’ve raised a kid who became a dropout, an addict or an academic flunky, you now have good cause to stop feeling guilty.
Nature, Nurture and Genetics
Identical twins, separated at birth and brought up in utterly different circumstances, turn out pretty much the same. In fact their quirky traits, talents and behaviors have astonishing similarities, down to the ice cream they like with the same nut or chocolate sprinkles on top. So, in other words, using our “fur-children” (dogs) as an analogy, within reasonable limits of a nurturing, non-abusive environment, raise them however you want; the Mastiffs will generally turn out to look and act like Mastiffs, and the Chihuahuas will generally turn out to look and act like Chihuahuas. The only variable that seems to matter much is genetics - case closed, end of story, next.
by Chas Gant MD, PhD
Having certain genes which guarantee me lifetime struggles with insomnia and restlessness, I am a voracious, nocturnal bibliophile. And as I travel frequently, books will somehow come my way which I use to bore me into a good snooze. While visiting relatives recently, I happened upon a Pulitzer Prize finalist copy of The Nuture Assumption, why children turn out the way they do, by Judith Rich Harris. Sometimes well-written, provocative books have the opposite effect and keep me awake into the wee hours. Such was the case here. The Nuture Assumption makes a compelling case, based on sound research on identical twins and other data, that within reasonable efforts to provide our kids with a nurturing, non-abusive, “normal” environment, parenting does not matter much in how our children turn out!