Momversation Monday: Nature versus Nurture

>> Monday, May 31, 2010

You can find the momversation here.

Nature versus nuture is a topic I'm VERY interested in. Of course, being a psychology student (hence the blog title) has something to do with my interest in personality development. But ever since becoming a mom, the stakes are higher. It's not just a theory, it's a real dilemma.

"Do I have the power to make or break my kid?"

That's a scary question. Part of me wants to believe that no, I don't. That's the part of me that's afraid that everything I do has the ability to change the course of his entire life, for better or worse. That part of me would much rather believe that he is who he is, and he's going to be who he's going to be, come hell, high water or crappy, inept parenting.

Then there's the part of me that wants to believe that I'm doing everything I'm doing for a reason. That he isn't just a naturally happy-go-lucky kid, but that my parenting has something to do with that. That part of me wants to believe that whatever struggles he may have can be softened by good parenting, acceptance and love. But if I accept that, then I'm also accepting responsibility for his extremely clingy behaviour. His refusal to be put down for more than half an hour. His constant need to breastfeed, despite me offering him a bottle first. His inability to be away from us, ever.

Is that bad? Will he outgrow it? Is it my fault? My mom and I were talking about his clingyness the other day, and she said, "I bet you'll do things differently with the next one." She clearly thinks that by holding him all the time as a newborn, not letting him cry in his crib, baby wearing back when he was light enough that I could do so for hours at a time without it hurting my back, that I broke my baby. She clearly thinks I made him ultra-dependent on me. We tried putting him in his stroller whenever we went out. I wasn't going to let him cry just to teach him that babies belong in strollers. Or should I have? I question myself daily.

Sometimes I play the "What-if" game with The Hubbs.
I ask him, "What if Baboo gets picked on?"
"What if he is popular, and gets involved with the bad crowd and drinks and does drugs?"
"What if he wants to marry someone horrible, and if we tell him, we risk losing him?"

My wonderful, logical husband thinks that anything that can go wrong can be solved with love and respect. He doesn't believe we can control, shape or mould much of who Baboo is, but he does believe that we are in control of the kind of relationship that we have with him. And that having two parents who love and respect you, and with whom you have a close and loving relationship is enough to see you through any trials that life may throw your way. And enough to help you make wise choices. God, I hope he's right.

Honestly, when people say that the baby stage is the hardest, I don't believe them. Yes, the breastfeeding and having to carry him and having our lives revolve around his schedule is exhausting and daunting. But we have a beautiful little person who loves and adores us. We are his whole world, and that is an amazing thing. His love is unconditional and perfect, and he has a crazy confidence that we will help him when he is hurting, and that all can be right in the world if he can just be with us.

It won't be like this forever. Someday he will like his friends or his girlfriend more than he likes us. Someday he may utter the words "I hate you." Someday we will ache for the times when he speed-crawled behind us wherever we went, because it will feel like we haven't spent any time with him in weeks. Someday his love won't be so unconditional. We will embarass him with how uncool we are. We will enrage him with our rules and exasperate him with our desire to have him do the right thing.

Nature or nurture? Can we soften the blow of him becoming his own person? Can we teach him to come to us now, so that when he is a teen and thinking about drugs or shop lifting or sex, he feels he can tell us? Can we give him enough love to carry him through life, so that if he flunks out of college, has a terrible break-up or loses his job, he knows he can come home and we will be just as proud of him as we always have been? Can we do that for him? With simple love, warmth and respect?

God, I hope so.


The Psycho Mama May 31, 2010 at 3:27 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
D June 1, 2010 at 8:59 AM  

As another "Psych" momma, I always think about this nature/nurture deal. And there are some things that are out of our control but how we encourage and love our babies will probably have the biggest effect. But it is hard to know if we are holding them too much or letting them play by themselves too much.

It's so complicated because we don't know how they will grow up to react to situations. Will our love be enough to teach them or will they "predisposed" to act a certain way? All we can do is be the best parents we can and love the heck out of 'em! :)


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