The debate between nature and nurture and the effects they have on early development is an ongoing question. Some believe that a child’s development is based solely on their “nature,” or the traits and behaviors they are born with. Others, however, pose the argument that “nurture,” or the atmosphere, influences, and way of being raised is the main factor in shaping who the child becomes. Both sides of the argument present compelling evidence, making it difficult to come to a clear conclusion.
Everyone knows that physical traits are hereditary. You certainly cannot change the color of your eyes or the shape of your nose simply by the way you are raised, so who is to say that the same does not go for behavioral traits? This is one of the most profound and factually solid arguments posed by those who believe that nature trumps nurture in the most influential part of a child’s development. An example of this is that if two parents who both have a learning disability have a child, that child will also most likely have a learning disability as well. This child will have this trait regardless of how they are raised, simply because that is how they were born. Today, we do not have the technology needed to be able to test if behavioral traits are hereditary. This does not mean, however, that we never will be able to. Based on the rapid technological advances in today’s age, it would not be a far stretch to say that performing these types of tests may be possible in the near future.
On the other hand, nurture certainly has a significant role in a child’s development, especially in the early stages. This is apparent immediately if a newborn baby is not cared for and shown that they are loved in the first few days of life, they will not survive even if their body seems perfectly healthy. In this case, nurture completely trumps nature because the only thing failing was the way the baby was treated. There are cases where parents do not care whatsoever for their child, and in extreme cases these children are classified as “feral children.” A feral child is a child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age. They have no experience of human care, nurture, or social contact. In severe cases, these children’s behaviors can resemble those of wild animals because they are the only contact they have ever had. It seems like a valid conclusion that if a child whose only contact was with animals begins acting like animal, then nurture must trump nature. Certainly there was nothing in the DNA of the child that could have resulted in animalistic behavior, so it must have been the effects of nurture because what other explanation is there? There are endless possibilities of ways that a parent could raise their child. Parents could nurture and love their child, they could absolutely spoil them rotten, they could coddle them so they are forever dependent, they could neglect them leaving the child with trust and self esteem issues, and certainly hundreds of thousands of other environments and situations. Each environment a child is raised in will produce a different type of child based on how they are treated while young, which means that nature will fall second to nurture.
After researching the opposing sides of the nature vs nurture argument, I learned many facts and points that were continuously swaying my opinion between which factor I believed to be most important. After coming to a conclusion, I decided that both nature and nurture are tremendously important in the early development of a child. I believe that as a parent or any influential figure in a child’s life, you have a huge amount of influence over who that child becomes. If you nurture and care for them, hopefully they will be more successful in going through the normal stages of development. If you raise your child in a negative light or neglect them in any way, they will be unsuccessful in following these standard stages of development. I believe, however, that despite the influence you and the environment can have on a child’s development, this influence can only go so far. I believe that each person is born an individual, with different morals and different paths laid out for them. At the end of the day, you cannot change who you are. Nevertheless, here are still many factors that tie into the argument over nature versus nurture. If one or the other affects the developmental traits of a child, what explanation is there for twins who have different personalities? Twins have the same DNA, and most likely were raised in the same environment, and certainly sets of twins do not act the same. Even siblings in general, who have the same parents and more or less were nurtured in the same environment and raised in a similar way, why can siblings be absolute opposites of one another when it comes to behavior and development? This argument has been ongoing for hundreds of years, with even major philosophers and psychoanalysts such as Locke and Galton not even being able to come to a solid conclusion. Odds are that the debate will continue on as it has an infinite amount of factors and is for a large portion based off of personal beliefs and philosophies.