YOU KNOW THE PRINCIPLE OF "Nature vs. Nurture" as it relates to human behavior?
Nature is the idea that much of how we act is determined by our human nature, our DNA, our genetics.
Nurture, on the other hand means that human behavior is dictated more by our surroundings.
We can have an affinity for airplanes, for instance, because of some innate, undefinable molecular propensity or because our father liked airplanes and we lived next to an airport.
Sometimes it's easy to identify where our personality traits come from. Sometimes it's not.
Recently my mother has taken ill. My older sister, bless her heart, has been with her. I have not. My sister asked me how I feel about our mother. I thought for a moment then replied, "I don't feel anything." My sister smiled and nodded. She understands.
My sister emailed me this morning to tell me about a little clip she saw on GMA about women who don't have the maternal instinct. Unfortunately, she said, the piece only dealt with women who have chosen to remain childless. It didn't get into the conflict that arises when women who lack maternal instinct become mothers.
For years, my sister and I have believed that our mother is devoid of maternal sensibilities. Perhaps when we were babies, our mother cared for us, making sure we were fed and warm. We are alive after all. But beyond meeting those most basic human needs, our mother was and still is unavailable, unattainable. She's always been somewhere else, either figuratively or literally.
We know our mother had issues with her mother (and that her mother was abused as a child). Home life for our mother wasn't ideal by any stretch. The question (that likely will never be answered) is, what made our mother the way she is? Nature? Nurture? A combination of both?
And does the fact that I, in return, feel nothing for my mother mean that it's a Nature thing? Is there a non-feeling gene in me? Or is my apathy a result of Nurture, of having an apathetic mother? I feel a great deal of love for my own children, but I'm dead to my mother.
How much of who we are is determined by our genes? How much is the result of our surroundings? Do you have any thoughts on the matter?
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