Friday, May 9, 2008

E-Nature vs Nurture

Watching our kids grow up makes me think about the "nurture versus nature" debate. My recollection from school is that, over time, scientists have generally shifted from one view to another, and then pretty much settled on the equal importance of both. My experience as a parent however, is that nature seems to be a stronger force. I'm not saying that we can't screw our children up or enhance their lives based on the nurturing we provide....but I do see some really strong personality characteristics that are present from birth....and think that it would take a whole lot of behaviour-shaping to change these. Molly's instincts as a 5 year old are very similar to the one's she had as a toddler.

Given that I think our children are all naturally good natured, I haven't had a hard time dealing with this realization. However, the question I do have is to what extent should I, as their parent, work against this nature and push the kids in a direction that they might not be inclined to go? So far I have based most of my parenting on instinct....and this has told me to go with the flow and to try to provide each child with love, happiness and some strong guidance as to right and wrong. I haven't really felt any instinctive desire to push them out of their comfort zones.

As they get older however, it's natural to expect more of our kids and to want to see them excel in many different areas of life. To what degree should I try to push the kids in an attempt to expose them to things I would like them to excel at? For example, if I push Molly, who shows little inclination to team sports, to be a soccer player, will I be bullying her into a life I want and she is not fit for? However, if I don't push her to try, will she fall behind others and then later feel like she missed out on the chance to start on an equal footing with her friends?

This example is one of thousands of decisions we make as parents that will dramatically effect our children's lives. With Molly beginning her school years and the expectations on her about to increase, Les and I will be faced with a lot more of these difficult decisions than we were the last few years....when being around us and being loved by us was all that the kids really needed.

Despite long lingering colds for the whole family, we have continued to get out and do lots....which is perhaps why we have long lingering colds. Although I don't imagine the hacking chest cough makes me that popular around the fire hall, booking off sick for a little cold is probably frowned upon as well.....especially since our sick days are paid out of our union dues.

Earlier this week I went swimming by myself with all three kids for the first time. Lucas was really excited to be in a swim ring in the big pool with his sisters. Later the girls had a swimming lesson where they worked on floating on their backs, kicking and holding their breath under water while Lucas and I went to the kids' pool.

Mother's Day is the current theme at their gardening class and at Molly's school. Another Dad and I helped the Kindergartners decorate and inscribe their Mother's Day boxes. It was pretty impressive and cute to see all the 5 year old kids be able to write out messages to their moms.

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