Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nature vs. Nurture and Self-Entertainment

How much of how our children are is because of nature and how much is because of nurture? Are somebody's kids always bored and unimaginative because they were born that way, simply not creative to think up things to do to entertain themselves, or are they that way because since they were little children, they've spent countless hours playing video games or watching television?

I know this is an age-old argument, and I don't really feel like arguing. But often, because I have five children and seem like I have control over my life, other mothers sometimes ask me advice. And often I have no advice to give because my kids are, well, just the way they are. That's how they've been since they were little. They like to entertain themselves. They are creative and spend a lot of their time creating games and engaging in highly imaginative play.

So I wonder if they are that way because I've always encouraged imaginative play over television watching and video game playing? In fact, we didn't even own a video game system until just last Christmas and the only computer games the kids were allowed to play were on the PBS kids website. Or are they that way because it's genetic? I was a very imaginative child who would spend hours doing the same types of activities I find my own children doing, without the encouragement or direction of my parents. If that's true, then why would ALL my children have turned out like me, since my husband was quite the opposite--the only real exercise and outside play he got growing up was from organized sports and in his down-time, he watched TV a lot.

We are now nine weeks into summer, with only three weeks remaining, and yesterday around 4 pm was the first time any one of my children had uttered the dreadful words, "I'm bored." In playgroups, a common discussion is how to beat summer boredom. Although I could list all the things my kids like to do, I can't take credit for it because they do all those things on their own. So I wonder, is it something I've done by example, since I tend to be a pretty creative, imaginative person myself and spend time playing with my kids a lot so they learned how from me (nurture), or is it nature, a gene they inherited from me that gave them a natural knack for coming up with something to do?

What do you think about the activities and things your children take interest in and the whole nature/nurture argument?


swedemom said...

I just finished a book advocating having more children. The author's premise is that (after studying a lot of data and studies) it's all about nature, not nurture and that if you and your spouse are decent people with good values, your kids will grow up that way and so you should just chill and out enjoy your kids and have more of them.
I'm not sure if I entirely believe him though his evidence was compelling.

Royalbird said...

In a way that makes sense because they will see that behavior and imitate it. But then, that's nurture, isn't it?


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