Nature, Nurture Or None Of The Above

To be fair, it’s happened before in good ways.

But Thursday morning before the launch, as Finn and I were facing off and I found myself entering terra incognita of child discipline with a mad, hurt, yet staunchly stubborn and defiant seven year old in front of me, the thought entered my head, “This child is so much like me.”

It’s a weird feeling.

By nature, he’s not like me at all. He’s not mine. He inherited nothing from me. Genetically, he doesn’t have my stubbornness any more than he’ll ever have my nose.

By nurture, yeah, he’s starting to be a little bit like me. You can definitely tell where I’m starting to rub off a little on both of the boys. The little things make me smile — like hearing them tell a “One-hundred-and-one” joke like we do in the improv shows. The big things make me really happy, though — you can tell there’s an increased love of narrative that I think is really cool. And, Heather says, they pray more, and more personally, because of me. And, yeah, that means a whole lot. A whole lot.

But then there’s another category, the none-of-the-above comparisons.

You become friends with someone because you find things you have in common. At the beginning of a dating relationship, you’re amazed at all the commonalities — “You like movies!? I like movies! And, hey, we’re both bipedal mammals! How amazing is that!? Clearly we were meant to be!”

But you share those things not because of any shared background, but because you both just happen to have taken different roads that ended up in the same place in those areas.

Caden and I have a few of those, but, to be honest, any commonalities with Caden are more with an idealized version of me than with the real me. I wish I were as free-spirited as he is, able to enjoy life the same way, as gifted at encouragement as he just naturally is. I tell him I’ll do something, and get around to it a few days later, and am greeted not with a “finally” type of response, but with “Good remembering, David!” I wish I could master that outlook.

Finn and I, on the other hand …

I saw him standing there in front of me last Thursday, and could put myself in his shoes, standing like that in front of my own dad. Stubborn, proud, desperately wanting to be as much in control as I could be. I wished I knew how to tell him that. It also made me put myself in the shoes of my dad a couple of decades ago. I have a few things in common with him, too.

I also see myself also in Finn’s cleverness. He’s competitive, but he loves figuring out how to work the system, to find the loopholes that give him an edge. Like me, he’s an odd blend of introvert and extrovert. He’ll not speak to a schoolmate in public because he doesn’t know what to say, but he’ll do a chicken dance in front of friends at a Havoc game.

It’s fun. I had no idea what it would be like having kids be a big part of my life, and that’s been one of the biggest surprises — that one of the most challenging and most rewarding parts of it has been discovering just who these two guys are as people. They have their own personalities, vastly different from each other, but each with so many things that warm my heart and probably more than a few things that try my patience. But they’re both just so wholly and fully and uniquely them.

It’s a cool thing where my commonality with their uniqueness gives me a perspective that Heather doesn’t have; it lets me feel like I actually contribute something.

And knowing that being around me has an impact on them; seeing how they are shaped because I’m in their life, is one of the most rewarding experiences and yet heaviest burdens I’ve had.

44 Responses

  1. Great post. My Dad always enjoyed seeing the similarities between the two of us. And yep, too much alike sometimes for our own good 🙂

  2. Wow … great timing on an interesting topic.

    I just wrote a post about how it seems my ex’s new wife is trying to physically alter my daughter’s appearance to make her more like her and less like me. But guess what: the “nature” is always going to be there!

    Nature and nurture work in tandem. I see my own competitive spirit in both my children, yet they have a heavy dose of goofy I didn’t have as a child. So fun to watch. 🙂

  3. Our little two year old has many of my wife’s characteristics. Emma loves helping her Le Cordon Bleu mommy in the kitchen, and she is showing artistic abilities in some of her drawings. Based on her kicking abilities, she looks to be a promising competitive kickboxer like her daddy. I get one in the shins as a greeting when I come home. Great post and congrats on FP

  4. My wife and I notice this with our daughter and son all the time. My son is like her, my daughter is like me. But there is a little bit of both of us in each. It’s amazing how our nurturing affects their personalities as they grow up.

  5. Both of my children are completely unique people (as all kiddos are, of course) but I do see glimpses of myself and my husband in them. It’s strange to see some aspect of myself in my child, whether that aspect is from living with me or from common genes. I marvel and sometimes I get frustrated. I can be moody and stubborn…and so can my eldest. One thing I do like about seeing the more challenging aspects of my personality show up in the children is that I can (if I calm down enough to think about it) respond the way I wish my parents would have responded.

  6. great post! :))

  7. Great post! I have two daughters with opposite temperaments. I just published a post this morning about how their different personalities affect how they feel loved or “un-favored” by us. Parenting is so amazing, fun, difficult, rewarding, and complex!

    Congrats for being published on Freshly Pressed!

  8. how nice 🙂

  9. Great post!
    Parenting is so amazing, fun, difficult, rewarding, and complex! thats what makes life worth living

  10. so nice, i’m 17 and sometimes wonder how it would be like when i would have kids….will they be like me or their mum?

  11. but it’s a good insight into making me wonder how it might turn out to be

  12. “He’ll not speak to a schoolmate in public because he doesn’t know what to say, but he’ll do a chicken dance in front of friends at a Havoc game.”

    That’s how I’ve always been — super friendly, daring and unafraid to, plainly, EMBARRASS myself but terrified of simple, uninteresting things.. like walking in front of the class to sharpen my pencil. ?

    “..seeing how they are shaped because I’m in their life, is one of the most rewarding experiences and yet heaviest burdens I’ve had.”

    Absolutely! It must be such a compliment, so endearing — and yet the responsibility, is huge.

    Great writing, and beautiful words.. thanks for sharing.

    -Aun Aqui

  13. He looks like he was having fun. Kids are so free and honest with their emotions.
    I have two kids and in some ways they are just like me but in others completely different. It’s weird like that.

  14. Great Post….Love your site!

  15. I have two children — 1 is just like me and 1 is just like my husband. I find that amazingly strange, but I love it. They are both boys, but we both have our special boy…it’s weird! I love them evenly of course, it’s just their temperaments and personalities, who tends to turn to who for companionship, who acts like who…interesting post… Thanks for sharing!

  16. He Looks like he was having fun dancing. your lucky to have two really great boys!

  17. “And knowing that being around me has an impact on them; seeing how they are shaped because I’m in their life, is one of the most rewarding experiences and yet heaviest burdens I’ve had.”

    So true, my friend. It makes you want to try and be a better person, doesn’t it? To live a life of love and light, so that they will grow up and have that perspective and happiness in their lives as well. I see myself in my son, and see my husband in my daughter.

  18. It’s amazing how much kids learn and absorb from their environments. What you do matters! Keep fighting the good fight!

  19. My bot is still too young for us to tell. I say he’ll be more like me though 😉

  20. As hard as you try to not be like your parents, you just are. How many times do you do something and you start thinking “That’s something my mom/dad would do. I’m turning into them.”

  21. How neat for you and those boys to be a part of shaping each other. It is, indeed, a heavy burden at times. Enjoy it, though. It’s one of life’s most beautiful things.

  22. There are very few parents who do not naturally nurture their children to be like themselves. Parents are always on the winning side of the debate this way.

  23. I have two sons and they are completely opposite. Each is special in his own way.

    Good for you but let them be themselves with guidance. Individuality, coupled with who they are, where they come from and where they can go is important. Let them find their path, but be their to direct them along the way.

    Nice post. Congrats on becoming FP!

  24. Amazing how we see ourselves in our children. I find that each of my twin daughters has so much of me yet they are so very different from each other!

  25. This is really beautiful.

  26. You are great father, though I haven’t be a father, but feel your education mode is very good, thank you for sharing!
    Rosetta stone

  27. To be fair, it’s happened before in good ways.
    This is really wonderful.
    This is Ann.

  28. super cute!!!! lol

  29. Aren’t kids amazing!! They are so honest and funny and everything perfect. Even when they puke on you …. it’s okay. You know? I’m only saying that because my son has a stomach virus and I got puked on 2x today. Now…if someone else’s kid pukes on me, now that is a different story. 🙂 But you get what I mean…

  30. hello, there. 😀

    it sounds like you’re friends with your kids and that’s something. that is a good place to start something good, i’d say. 😀

    i love your description of them. and how you and they try to be good to one another despite the personality differences.

    it’s good to read a piece that shows how people/kids can be admirable creatures. and how each day is a learning process.

    keep on writing and thanks. 😀

  31. I just hope my kids get my good qualities and not my bad. Fun post.

  32. brilliant post, interesting concept 🙂

  33. Thats beutiful! Well writen and truely touching! I’m so unlike my family in so many ways that when I spot something in a similarity, be it good or bad, I tend to get very excited! So great to see someone else who is so into being a part of or touching someone else’ life!

  34. Very handsome and “talented” young men!
    I find with my two daughters I try to “nurture” the “nature”.

  35. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing!
    With 2 little ones of our own, my husband and I often ponder the nature v. nuture debate. We often refer to my daughter as “Mini-me” with her striking resemblance, but there is so much about her that is strikingly different. She is a pure princess of pink, surrounded by baby dolls and dress-up clothes. I was a Tom-boy with no interest in dolls or clothes. Clearly she is her own little, beautiful person, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

  36. Wonderful post!

  37. A picture says a thousand words……..and yours is a novel! I don’t even know you and I can see you are doing a terrific job…..

    spread the humor:

  38. Great post!
    I was adopted and have had the pleasure of meeting my biological Father’s side of the family. Although he has passed I am told I not only look like him but I also have a lot of his manor-isms and eve share the same tastes, and other personality traits.
    I was nothing like my adopted mother, through the years I desperately wanted to find common ground but at the age of 31 I am comfortable with who I am and believe that it’s more nature than nurture.
    For some, it may be different but I have experienced fitting in only when I discovered where I truly came from .

  39. what does it say about me that anytime i see the nature/nurture debate i think of Walken in Wedding Crashers? “Nature vs. nurture…nature always wins.”

  40. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  41. I think one of my children’s greatest gifts is that they are my own soul’s reflection. If I look deeply enough, I discover and am reminded of the best and worse who I am as a person.

    So nature is to nurture as yin is to yang but somewhere in the middle is the joy of the chicken dance. No matter how old I am or how young they still may be, when our eyes meet, I wonder at the miracle of it all.

    This is the kind of stuff I love to blog about too. I’d welcome any of your feedback fellow posters. There are some great, thoughtful and fun comments here. I’m found at

  42. I like to think each child is unique, but each has a common familiy spirit that permeates but is sometimes difficult to define. I think that if we can infuse that family spirit with goodness, then all children will havew an individual sparkle and a shared compassion for the world. Just MHO of course! GREAT post!

  43. Thanks, all! I appreciate the kind words, and it’s been great fun reading about everybody else’s experiences.

    And, yes, early on, I did get puked on by a sick four-year-old. I considered it a rite of passage.

  44. Great post! I got a daughter and a son and all of them are almost like to me 🙂

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