Nature vs Nurture

This post has been swirling around in my brain for a couple weeks but I just couldn’t figure out how I would write it.  Then today I opened my Instagram and found out that today is “Pink Shirt” day – also known as Anti-Bullying Day and I knew that today was the day I needed to write this.

It starts with my last hospital admission and a conversation I had with one of my nurses.  She was an older more experienced nurse and we were having a conversation about raising kids.  I mentioned that we don’t have TV in our house and I’ve loved everything about that.  She replied with something about how if kids go to school not knowing what’s “cool” they are at a higher risk of being bullied.  Basically she was implying that Ezekiel would be bullied at school because he doesn’t watch TV or play with an iPad.  Instantly my Momma heart was torn and conflicted.  I started to question all my parenting decisions and convictions.  Was this true? Was I really putting my child at risk of being bullied? Should we watch TV?

The other part of the conversation revolved around “nature vs nurture.”  I’m sure all of you reading this are at least vaguely aware of this debate.  Does a child turn out “good” or “bad” because of nature or the way we as parents nurture them.  I don’t have a set answer on this but during my conversation with this nurse she mentioned that she had boy/girl twins and they were completely opposites which made her lean towards the nature part of the debate.  Instantly I was able to define my own parenting philosophy – I desire to nurture my children’s nature.

The more I have thought about this conversation – and it’s been daily, sometimes several times a day – the more confident I become in my parenting decisions.  I truly believe there is no one right way to raise children and that’s because every single child and person on this earth is different.  There are no two exactly alike and so our parenting must bend and curve and ebb and flow to accommodate each child’s unique personality and nature.  There is only one aspect of parenting I believe every single parent should do – and that is simply to take the time to KNOW your child.  Try and understand their uniqueness and your parenting decisions and strategies will flow with that.

When I was first pregnant I had a lot of ideals and ideas that I thought were absolutely essential to parenting children “right.”  I was on the side of black and white decision making, there was no in between.  Then I became a parent and that completely got thrown out the window.  Ezekiel has been such an excellent teacher for me in this whole parenting gig.  Right from day one he’s shown me that he’s actually in charge of his life – he will do things and transition through all his milestones in his own way and in his own time.  My job is to gently guide him through this life teaching him how best to manage these transitions with grace and humility.  His personality and nature takes front seat in our relationship and you know what? My own personality and nature also sits up there in the front seat, together we navigate life.  In some things I’m very strict with very little bend in my decisions, in other things I’m more in the grey area and my decision may be different from day to day.

In no way do I think I have this parenting thing all figured out and soon I’ll be adding yet another little person who has their own nature and personality to our family.  Here’s what I do know – if I spend the time and energy really getting to know and understand this little person we are going to be OK.

I think this is the way we can raise children to be kind always and to love in all circumstances regardless if they know who every character of Paw Patrol is.  We can raise children to be unique and different, to go against the grain and be proud of it.  We can raise children to understand that bullying is not OK, to know how to respond to a bully and to know that other peoples opinions of them do not define their worth.  We can raise children to be honest and open with us, to talk through issues and articulate their feelings in difficult situations.  We can create homes that are full of love, understanding and kindness, that are always welcoming of conversation.  We can raise children that are curious about the world and aren’t afraid to ask questions or take their own stance in situations.  We can raise children who are not shamed into conforming to society but who are proud to forge their own path.

So regardless of how you end up parenting your child.  What decisions you make along the way.  If you can raise your child to know and show love and kindness I think we can raise a generation where bullies are no longer an issue.

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