Nature vs. Nurture?

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Oh, the mysteries of raising children. There are bookoo’s of books to guide us, tons of mom bloggers and ‘experts’, and a plethora of ranging advice and theories on how to most successfully raise kids. It’s often conflicting information, changing techniques, and definitely evolving. I, too, want to have an understanding of the latest school thought when it comes to raising my children and continue to educate myself in this field. What’s funny, though, and I should have realized a long time ago when Brody was a non-sleeping baby is that what works best is usually your basic common sense!

As usual, I want to use my blog as a platform to boast about my children because I can, and I will! This time it’s wise, little Anna. But, before you exit out and loose interest, it’s also about Brody too, and how completely different they are. In fact, this isn’t at all about them but it’s more about how what we do and do not do to make our children who they are! And, if you have an only-child, no children at all, or two very similar children, this could give some more perspective.

You see, sometimes, it’s easy to judge others, what parents are or are not doing right. If only their dad was more involved, or they just need to ‘get their butt whooped’ (I’ve heard that more than once from teachers!),  or their mom needs to give them more consequences at home….We could go on and on about what the parents need to do differently. I do this too, a lot! And, sometimes I do think there’s some truth to it, that something needs to change or be different.

And, it’s also easy to take credit for their success and triumphs too! When my kids say something profound, pat-on-the-back. When their teachers brag on them, pat-on-the- back. When they make a smart choice and don’t take the easy route, pat-on-the-back. It’s easy to get sucked into thinking we are part of the reason they’re smart or successful. It’s even easier to believe their successes are our successes. Sometimes the lines get blurred.

So, yesterday, I had a brief pat-on-the-back moment with wise Anna. Both her and Brody got checks for Christmas, which I usually just directly deposit into their saving accounts without their input. Last year, though, Brody wised-up and realized this was actually his money and he could cash and spend the money immediately. And, he did. This year, I told him he had to at least save half and they could decide what to do with the other half.

When we were on our way to the bank, I asked Anna if she wanted me to deposit it all.

“What do you mean?”, she asked.

Do you want to put all of the money in the bank, or spend some of it?

“I want to save it all. I need to save it for a car and house. I don’t want to live on the street”, she promptly replied.  (BIG-PAT-ON-THE-BACK!!) She’s only in first grade and this responsible, little girl has a plan. I’ve taught her well, the value of money, long-term planning, the importance of savings….

I told her she’d probably have to have Brody live with her but she’ll have to make him eat his vegetables. She laughed! Why will she have to take care of him, even though he plans on being rich? Because he loves to spend, and spend fast! He’s wasted so much money on the latest nerf gun that he only plays with once.

*Lightbulb!

If Anna is so responsible and wise when it comes to money, then why isn’t Brody? We’re raising them in the same house and telling them the same things when it comes to finances….. Because it’s not just the parents. It’s not just me; It’s them.

It’s the same reason that Brody is an insanely picky, poor eater while Anna chooses salads, real food, and hot teas. It’s also the same reason Brody wouldn’t sleep by himself until age 3, and wouldn’t nap while Anna was a good sleeper and an easy as a baby. It actually isn’t me at all. It’s them!!

While I want to take credit for a lot, I’m really fooling myself. They are good kids but is that really nurture or is it just nature!? With experience, you slowly realize something that I often tell myself and teachers at school: ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink’, just like I can’t make Brody like vegetables or want to save his money . I can make him try a couple bites or save half his money, though.

I do have an influence but kids come with their own agendas, perspectives, opinions, and personalities too. So, like all things, I think it’s a balancing act. We have to share our own values with them, teach them, model for them, and then hope some of it will stick. We can and should set expectations but they won’t all be reached. Sometimes, your child will surprise you and set their own. Nurture them well and make them feel loved, but then, the rest is just left to their own devices.

**(And, if you ever need to borrow money, ask Anna and not Brody!)

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