Saturday, September 6, 2008

I truly believe that children come into our world with their own uniqueness

If you've been reading me for a while, you'll know that I often talk about the gifts that my children have brought into my life. Most notably, just they are. I also talk about one of the bonuses of having children so close in age is that I can see the striking differences in personality at the same ages. Those books on your child at 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., all have their place, and often are "right on," but I have found that BOY & GIRL are more different than alike. Especially in how they do things and view the world.

BOY likes to jump right in, meet new people, experience a novel place, and do things a little differently from "the norm." He learns while moving. He will fool you every time when you think he hasn't taken something in, OH...but he HAS. And, he chooses when to let you in on it. He is clever that way.

GIRL is an amazing observer. She loves a good conversation. She watches. Everything down to the smallest detail goes in, assimilates in her brain and then she can explain to you what she has seen. She is quick to memorize and repeat things verbatim back to you. For the most part, she draws comfort and enjoys doing things "the right way." She takes charge and nothing slips her notice.

BOY has no boundaries. He will walk up to a stranger and throw his arm around their leg or pat someone's tummy and greet them. Everyone is a friend and people are charmed by his openness. Having some boundaries is something we will have to work on with him.

GIRL has very firm boundaries. She is reserved and cautious when she first meets someone and is able to make some adults uncomfortable with what we like to call her 500 yard stare. She is an old soul and it can feel like she sees through you. She has good, healthy boundaries and our work with her is to acknowledge people upon greeting and to encourage her to put that amazing vocabulary that she owns to good use. She is thoughtful and analytical.

Because of, or perhaps someday in spite of...their differences, they get along like gangbusters! The first two years were all about running, but now they play together so well and I am continually struck by their creative play and how they complement each other. Of course there are those days...everyone has them. But, secretly...I feel so lucky that I'm out of the diaper stage and on to the ongoing discovery of who these little people are, whom I love so much.

I say all this with confidence, yet I do know that they may change on a dime. Isn't that what half of parenting is? Being able to move, duck and cover with the mercurial changes in one's children? Yet, I am always fascinated by the discussion of NATURE VS. NURTURE.... Having both an adopted child and a biological child has caused me to weigh in heavily on the NATURE side of things. I truly believe that children come into our world with their own uniqueness. We may help shape and guide them, but they are their own little people. And, they never let us forget it...

***Picture courtesy of Google Images

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  1. The differences are amazing, aren't they? With 6 biological children (i.e., the same gene pool), I have 6 distinct personalities. I love it.

    Have you read Stephen King's On Writing yet? He rails against unnecessary adverbs (hint, hint). They weaken one's statements. Whenever I write something, I'm amazed at how many adverbs I have to delete when I proofread it. But the result is a stronger piece.

  2. I am also totally fascinated by the Nature/Nurture argument. Do you find that GIRL is more like you and E in personality, then, since you said you lean toward the Nature side? I think the Nurture part hugely shapes who we become.

    I loved this piece, and I don't think you use too many adverbs. I love how you write - keep it up.

  3. Great post.

    My two children have different personalities and I picked up on the clues (in retrospect of course) when they were in the womb and then of course when they were infants/toddlers. Some of the traits get stronger with time and settle into "the who" of their beings. I see bits of myself and my husband in both of them but they are UNIQUE persons in all regards. I believe it is more nature than nurture from my experience raising these two.

    I suspect you'll notice that certain traits temper with time and maturity but they will still stand as fundamental facets of personality. Likely forever. Such is the mystery and magic.

  4. Yes, I veer towards the nature side too.

    I have four children (one girl and three boys) and they are all very very different. Whilst some of that could be put down to family position and some outside factors, mostly they have not changed from the personalities they exhibited as infants.

    I think if you had a scale of 20 for some personality attribute - nature would give you a score, say of 16 and nurture could affect that score by maybe 5. So say someone is by nature horribly shy, a supportive environment could take that down to just a little shyer than average but I honestly don't believe that whatever you did to help that child you could get rid of the shyness.

    Great piece as always.

  5. One of the things I love most about being a mom is the opportunity to fine tune very different relationships with my two very different children.

    Your children are lucky to have a mom who gets them. Not everyone is so fortunate.

  6. This is what I love about you--your ability to love your children for exactly who they are and are becoming.

  7. They are all unique and while we can shape them, we cannot change them.

  8. I agree--all 4 of mine are so different yet raised completely the same.

  9. You described my two kids too. My boy is so outgoing and forward. And my girl is far more reserved.
    Thanks for a great post. You have a unique perspective.

  10. I have also noticed a big difference between my boy and girl! And the nature vs. nurture debate sparks my interest because my parents adopted a very troubled young girl about eight years ago and are still trying to "nurture" her back into health. I think a lot of things are deeply ingrained in us and it doesn't matter the surroundings, however, our environment does shape the people we become in a lot of ways.

  11. There were some personality traits that my children were literally born with... they popped out with some of their greatest assets and biggest deficits already seemingly hard-wired. I wouldn't suggest that I our parenting didn't have any effects but I believe that our job has been to help them make the most of their natures.

    BTW, I love your writing.

  12. So very true & well said, and man is it really clear with my students. We can love & respect & work with certain kids until we can't sleep at night, but their natures will pull them back under in a heartbeat. It is devastating.

    On the other hand, there are kids whose nuturing - by us and their families - is proving to overrule generations of sorrow.

    We all just hang in there, with eyes wide open.

  13. I totally agree. They are their own little people that we guide and help mold. Great post, J.

    Have a good weekend - Kellan

  14. I love to think about the nature/nurture thing too. And birth order. Oh, how I love to think through that.

    Such a good perspective you have, allowing for the differences in your children, and nurturing their natural abilities and strengths.

    I love posts like these. Thank you,

  15. One part of raising kids that has surprised me most -- each new phase is such a welcome joy. I thought I would spend days lamenting the stages they left behind, but I don't. I really cherish the new, growing, maturing little people they are becoming and I'm so excited to see who they will become still.

  16. This post is absolutely wonderful

  17. I love how they get more and more interesting at every stage, and it's easier to see who they are.

    This was lovely.

  18. Enjoy this time. I'm seeing the infant stages of my 11 year old son discovering his independent self and it scares me. The signs are very small but they indicate "pulling away".


  19. Absolutely. We are who we are, and yet as parents, it is our job to lead them and guide them into becoming who they will be. I have one VERY sensitive child who simply cannot make a decision...and then she cries. Thank goodness for homeschooling. In our co-op she has come to "know" her teachers over Years and they are practically family. This allows her to learn and grow in a secure environment.
    Blessings JCK, glad you are back.

  20. You do have such a unique opportunity to explore that nature/nurture conversation. I've said before that I think BOY and the Queen would either get along famously or hate each other instinctively because they're so much alike. DeBoy would be happy to stay home with his mama if anyone would let him (or me).


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