As I reflect back on the past 24 years of my life, I wonder what has influenced my life the most. That leads me to question some of the biggest factors in my life and determine whether they were factors of Nature or Nurture. The Nature vs. Nurture debate is on that dates back well beyond my 25 years of life, and in my opinion there is no true answer to this debate, but I am just curious how my life has been impacted by the two. Nature is defined as that which is inherited, genetics (McLeod 2002). Those would be characteristics that are inherited through the genes, for example; eye color, genetic disorders, and skin pigmentation.Order now
Other physical characteristics, if not determined, appear to be at least strongly influenced by the genetic make-up of our biological parents (McLeod 2002). Those who adopt an extreme heredity position are known as nativists. Their basic assumption is that the characteristics of the human species as a whole are a product of evolution and that individual differences are due to each person’s unique genetic code. In general, the earlier a particular ability appears, the more likely it is to be under the influence of genetic factors (McLeod 2002).
In relation to my life, factors that would be classified as nature are, being African American, and having a larger body frame (thick). Growing up in the Suburbs of St Louis, I have found myself surrounded by many different races, and the primary race being Caucasian. That has caused me to be stereotyped most of my life due to something that is completely out of my control. Both my parents are African American, so genetically my only option for race was African American. Knowing that as soon as someone sees me they would have formed an opinion of me makes me have to worry about my physical appearance more.
Things such as piercings, tattoos, hairstyles, and clothing have to be thought over before any decisions are made because they will add to the stereotypes because of my race. If you follow the media, being a model size is pretty. Due to genetics, my frame is much larger than model size, and my height is much shorter. Having measurements of 256 pounds in weight, and 5 foot 4 inches in height, causes me to have to worry about getting things such as diabetes. My mother is approximately the same weight, and about 3 inches taller than me, and my father is approximately 245 pounds and 6 foot even.
Being female, I have taken on more of my mom’s body frame, which is not a bad thing, but it does put me in a high-risk category health wise. The other side of the debate is nurture. Nurture refers to all environmental influences after conception, i. e. experience (McLeod 2002). Those who believe that at birth the human mind is a tabula rasa (a blank slate) and that this is gradually “filled” as a result of experience are known as empiricists (McLeod 2002). The main factors in my life that I would characterize as nurture are becoming a teen mom, and my parenting style.
I became pregnant at the age of 17, and had my first child, a girl, at the age of 18. I had already graduated high school, but was just a freshman in college at the time. I had no idea what being a parent really meant but luckily I had a great support system to help me learn what being a parent consisted of. My mother was not a teenage mom, she was married when she had both of her children and waited until she was ready to be a mother before becoming pregnant which is why I equate becoming a teenage mom as a factor of my environment.
I have found that my generation is one that is comfortable with sex before marriage, and it is displayed not only through word of mouth among friends but also through the media outlets. The friends that I surrounded myself with were all engaging in sex before marriage so I followed the trend and engaged as well. I had a mindset that getting pregnant was not something that would happen to me, and I did not always take the necessary precautions to make sure that it did not happen to me.
I choose to listen to Hip Hop and R and B, and the artists I chose to listen to had lyrics condoning sex and lifestyles that would leave to sexual situations. Even though being a teenage mother was not something I wanted, it is the greatest factor that has impacted my life. The parenting style that I have chosen is one very similar to my mother’s but extremely different than that of my grandmother’s, which makes me classify it as a nurture factor. I am very close to my mother and my daughter. We are not required to say yes ma’am and no ma’am like some families, but we are also not allowed to say what either.
My daughter is one of my best friends so we share that relationship in addition to being mother and daughter, which allows our conversations and interactions to be somewhat playful rather than stern. I chose this parenting style because I want my daughter to be able to come to me if she has any problems or concerns rather than turn to her friends and risk the change of getting bad advice or information. Some believe my parenting style is too relaxed, but as long as my daughter grows up having respect for others and myself then it works for me. Psychologically, all of these factors have had the same impact on my life.
I feel that every person is unique in his or her own way. Since I am stereotyped, I try not stereotype others, especially since I know that people can physically change their appearance. I think that my social experiences, or nurture factors, have made me a stronger person emotionally. The nurture factors are some that I feel cannot be controlled, just like the nature factors. The only difference between the two is you can trace nature factors back through your family history, and nurture factors include external parties, which are untraceable.
I do find myself internally judging others and then wondering if their action is caused by nature or nurture. For example, if a child is bad in the store I may say, oh that child has bad parenting, but then I wonder what if they have some type of mental disability that causes them to exert that behavior. Unfortunately I cannot end the debate and answer, which factors have caused greater change in my life but I can say that all the factors have caused my life to change. The nature versus nurture debate is one that I do not believe will ever end.
Both sides have very influential information but I personally believe, one could not be there without the other. For example, eye color is genetic, but with today’s society and the help of technology you can permanently change your eye color. There are also medical procedures allowing people to change almost all of their physical appearances including gender. Before the technological advances, I would have agreed with the nativists, but now I feel like your life experiences can cause you to take measures to change the genetic features you do not like. Nothing is safe from change.
Cherry, K. A. (2009). What is nature versus nurture? Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/nindex/g/nature-nurture.htm
McLeod, S. A. (2007). Nature Nurture in Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html
Nature via nurture: Genes, experience, and what makes us human.
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Santrock, John W.
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. (2014). 16 pp.