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Nature vs. Nuture: How Much Does Our Parenting Matter?

Years before I had children, I went to a talk by the spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Somehow the question came up on parenting. Although he’s not a parent himself… he is an enlightened guru, so he gave some insightful advice.

He said that 50% of a person is just how they’re born, it’s their nature, you CANNOT change that. The other 50% is something that CAN be changed by their environment/parents/experiences/nurturing, etc.

This idea of nature vs. nature is not something new that he came up with, and lots of people have talked, researched and written about this topic. In fact, I’m sure there’s some expert out there could argue the exact contribution that our parenting makes towards the outcome of our children, but I like to think 50/50 is a good start. Anyone can observe that sometimes kids who come from even the most nurturing families still turn out a little um… like maybe they need a hug… While sometimes people who come from horrible, abusive or traumatic childoods, turn out to be outstanding citizens of their society.

Hopefully it makes some of you reading this feel a little lighter. While we do have a big responsibility to do our best as parents, at the end of the day, we can only work with what we’ve got! Our kids are still little people who come with their own set of qualities. These qualities, are traits we might love or might drive us bonkers!

And, it does make me feel better to know, that when my kids are acting like lunatics, even after I’ve tried every trick up my sleeve, that I can just shrug my shoulders and leave as ‘just their nature’.

2 Responses »

  1. I absolutely love this. I’ve been thinking a lot about that. I’ve done my best with my kids, but some days I just want to throw my hands up and say, “I give. I have no idea how to make this different.” I’ve had nurture pushed on me so much that I’d completely forgotten that nature can also be a thing.

  2. It is very true and importantly each child has a different ‘nature’ and a big part of our job as parents is to meet them where they are not make them fit into our wishes for who they should be.


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