Genetically speaking, Parents have 2 special roles for TSK:
- Nature – The first role didn’t take too long; giving TSK those special instructions – the DNA- from both Mom and Dad! The DNA will have a large impact on eye color, height, and can affect personality.
- Nurture – The second role occurs during all the rest of TSK’s life! It has to do with what happens to TSK. AT first, Mom and Dad are the main people to be sure all that happens is healthy, but as TSK grows, other influences will be seen, like childcare, school, friends and even what choices TSK makes for video games, sports, what he reads and what he thinks about and does every minute of every day!
Nature versus Nurture; in the last century, some believed the “Nature” philosophy, meaning DNA determines all. Hitler agreed, and killed millions in the name of Eugenics.
Others believed in the “Nurture” philosophy, like the psychologist, B.F. Skinner who declared, “Give me a child, and I will shape him into anything.”
So, which is it; Nature or Nurture? Well in 2014, many think it is both! It seems that our genetic DNA (the Nature part) can be turned on or turned off by the rest of the world around us (the Nurture part).
So, now that TSK is here, what can you do about the Nurturing Part? Well you have a daunting, but an EXCITING job!
- The daunting part: give TSK everything he needs in a routine – his food, his sleep, his exercise and plenty of “brain building” things, like talking, singing, reading, playing.
- Keep TSK safe by not having him around things that could hurt him, like angry or violent people, or smoking, or lead exposure.
- The EXCITING part: sharing life with TSK as he grows and learns from you to be the best person he can be!
And, in case you are thinking about having TSK II, here are some things to consider. This “Nature-Nurture” thing starts with the pregnancy; what Mom is eating, drinking and smoking, as well as how stressful things are for her; is she getting enough rest, exercise, and is she in a supportive, loving family? If there is yelling, or disrespect, and certainly if there is physical violence or threats of violence, these will increase the stress hormone of cortisol. Cortisol, long-term changes how the Baby DNA works.
A study from the journal Biological Psychiatry viewed over 1000 people over a 40 year time, from birth. Their mothers were tested during pregnancy for cortisol. The adult women were much more likely to smoke if their mothers had high cortisol levels (in other words, a lot of bad stress) and were smokers, themselves. Other work has shown that stressed mothers of baby girls seem to somehow change the infants’ DNA in ways that can cause health problems later.
So, what to do? If you or someone you know could get pregnant, due to age and… activities…help provide good Nurturing for the Mommy-to-be, by having good habits for sleep, eating balanced healthy meals, no substance use including tobacco and alcohol, and help the daily social interactions to be healthy and not stressful from violence or disrespect. A little cortisol, unfortunately, can go a long way!