The Impact of Nature and Nurture on Personal Development

by 26Health Staff

Being adopted, I’ve spent my whole life wondering what makes us tick. The nature vs. nature debate has always fascinated me. Do we develop personality traits similar to our biological parents (nature), or do we adapt our behavior based on what we experience and who’s around us (nurture)? 

My Experience With Nature Vs. Nurture

All I know about my biological mother is that we both love cats, enjoy creative writing, suck at math, are artistic, and have had a lot of dental issues. She was 15 years old when I was born and had been hospitalized for depression the year prior. When I inquired after her at the age of 20, I learned that she had never married nor had children by that time, by which she would have been 35. I believe that her parents were going through a divorce when I was born, and I was told that her father was an alcoholic. 

By contrast, my adoptive parents were in their 40’s and 50’s when I was born. By that point, they were financially stable and had been married for over 20 years. I don’t even want to think about how I might have turned out had I been raised by a 15-year old girl working through depression instead of by my parents who gave me everything I needed and enough of what I wanted without spoiling me. 

I was always quite precocious and a bit of a rebel, especially in my younger years. While I don’t know my biological mother, I imagine we are very similar. My adoptive mother will tell you that one of her favorite things about me is that I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. I’m pretty sure I get that from my bio mom. Much like her nature, I’m 40 years old and have never wanted to have kids. Because I’m not religious, being married has never been that important to me; however, everyone in my adoptive family got married in their 20’s and has at least two kids.

The Influence of Nature and Nurture on my Life

Like my biological mother, I began suffering from depression in my early teens. My adoptive parents didn’t understand it or know how to help me. Again, it was something that made me “different” and reinforced the knowledge that I was adopted. That was the early 90’s. It is different today. Today, you can take teens to psychiatrists to get a proper diagnosis and receive medication and/or therapy. Still, depression was something that connected me to my biological mother. 

Even though they are my adoptive parents, there are many things we share in common. My mom and I love a glass of red wine (or 2) at the end of the day. I keep boxes of Kleenex in every room, despite the fact that I am seldom sick and rarely cry. I love to laugh at everything, especially myself. My dad and I often have moments when we zone out with our own thoughts and don’t get mad often but, when either of us does, watch out! These similarities demonstrate the effect nurture has had on my life

Embracing Both Nature and Nurture

I haven’t come to any major epiphanies or conclusions, but I am certain that a person’s development stems from both sides, nature and nurture, and I’ve learned to embrace it. However, it would make perfect sense to me that a person tends to mirror what they see growing up. As a therapist, I know for a fact that people are strongly affected by their relationships with their parents, but a little mystery is always nice.