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Nature versus nurture making the right choice for your childrens future

That was the question raised recently by psychologist Judith Rich Harris, author of the controversial book, The Nurture Assumption. If they turn out to be bums, it certainly is not your fault. How much credit do parents deserve when their children turn out well?

How much blame when they turn out badly? This electrifying book explodes some of our deepest beliefs about children and parents and gives us something radically [an appropriate term! With eloquence and wit, Judith Harris explains why parents have little power to determine the sort of people their children become.

It is what children experience outside the home, in the company of their peers, that matters most. Whether intended or not, this dogma accommodates parental delinquency. Harris confesses that she used to believe this. The more appropriate query might be: Her approach is totally wrong-headed, even though the current conditions of society are not wholly at variance with her conclusions.

First, it is fundamentally flawed because it is constructed upon an erroneous premise. The psychologist has had her brain baptized in Darwinism. She contends, for instance, that humans are the product of the evolutionary process—from molecules to man.

The Harris Argument

My [view] is based on a consideration of what kind of mind the child is equipped with, which requires, in turn, a consideration of the evolutionary history of our species emphasis added. Harris alleges that environment—virtually every influence other than parents—is responsible for the way we are; our childhood associates are especially influential. Second, from a methodological viewpoint, her reasoning is skewed.

She frequently yields to unwarranted extrapolation. Here is one of her examples: Children in a Boston family, being reared by parents who speak Russian principally, can converse in good English—with a Bostonian accent, rather than with a Russian accent. Thus they are being influenced more by their peers than by their parents.

This woefully limited example does not mean, however, that Boston society must necessarily exert a greater influence upon the children than the parents do in every area of life. There are some issues with which parents are considerably more flexible. Moreover, it is just possible that these immigrant parents encouraged their children to speak a purer form of English! Third, as journalist Roy Maynard noted, Ms.

In other words, she adjusts the facts to fit her foregone conclusion. Harris has been taken to the proverbial woodshed by some respected heavyweights in the field of psychology. Telling parents that they have little influence on their children, in light of scientific evidence and their daily encounters, is a little like declaring on a foggy September morning that all the trees have disappeared because you cannot see them.

The Harris theory is contradicted by two basic biblical propositions: The Scriptures provide ample evidence, in the form of precedent, that parents can and do influence their children significantly.

  • The Harris theory is contradicted by two basic biblical propositions;
  • A half-century or so ago, organized recreation was something children did occasionally—perhaps a few hours on the weekend;
  • Let us briefly develop these two points;
  • Harris confesses that she used to believe this;
  • They are scarcely finished with one sport until it is time for the next one to begin.

Parents are placed under divine mandate to fashion the character of their offspring. Let us briefly develop these two points.

The Destiny of Our Children: Nature or Nurture?

Biblical Precedent and Parental Influence The Scriptures are replete with examples which demonstrate the power of parental influence—both for good and bad.

Reflect upon the following cases: Concerning Abraham, God said: For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him Genesis 18: Joshua could confidently affirm: This great leader was not oblivious to the influence he exerted in his household.

Eli was one of the great judges of the Old Testament era. A stain on his record, however, was his conduct as a father. He had two incorrigible sons, Hophni and Phinehas 1 Samuel 1: Eli was aware of their rebellion, but he restrained them not. Though he had many admirable qualities, David, king of Israel, was weak as a father. He betrayed a wife and committed adultery. The consequences of this activity, which seriously affected his family, were heartbreaking and long-lasting cf.

Two of the most wicked persons of Old Testament fame were Ahab and Jezebel, the former being a ruler of the northern kingdom of Israel. Their daughter, Athaliah, was as vicious as her bloody parents cf. In the New Testament, Timothy, an evangelist from Lystra, was a frequent companion of the apostle Paul. His prominence is reflected in the fact that his name is found some twenty-four times in the New Testament.

The apostle gave his young friend high praise to the Philippian saints when he nature versus nurture making the right choice for your childrens future of him: The Bible clearly teaches the concept that godly parents must attempt to guide their children in the path of right-living.

Let us give consideration to a sampling of passages, both from the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Hebrew people were instructed as follows: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you are lying down, and when you are rising up Deuteronomy 6: The Old Testament is filled with references to the close relationship between parents and children.

Alfred Edersheim, a noted scholar of Israelite culture, has observed that the Hebrews had nine different words which reflected various stages of growth in the maturation process, and that these pictorial designations indicate how keenly child-life was observed by Jewish parents.

Influencing their youngsters to walk with God was a major priority among the Israelites during their periods of faithfulness. There doubtless is some truth in this. The admonition implies they are able to do this.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul admonished: This challenging passage asserts unequivocally that fathers have the ability to influence their children—for better or worse.

  1. It hardly needs to be emphasized that this is not an ideal environment for Christian influence. There doubtless is some truth in this.
  2. The reality of peer pressure cannot be denied.
  3. The same is true for positive traits and positive parenting styles. A child may or may not realize their potential based on the decisions you make and the behaviors of the people they interact with.

Professor Nigel Turner points out that Plato used the word to describe the process of guiding children toward principles which are right—as judged by the law, and the experience of good and older people. To contend, as Ms. One can only imagine what sort of society would prevail if this philosophy were pursued universally!

Bertram makes a powerful point when he calls attention to the fact that in Ephesians 6: Qualifying Factors While we do not want to minimize the sacred duty parents have to influence their children toward serving the Lord, to be balanced we must direct attention to a couple of mitigating factors.

The Scriptures teach that every individual has personal volition, i. It is possible for a child to be trained correctly, and then, at some point, turn from that instruction and influence to pursue a life totally adverse to all he has been taught.

The science behind nature vs. nurture

Jehovah trained the nation of Israel, but at times the people abandoned him. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me Isaiah 1: Rebels are like the poor, we will always have them with us. The general principle, however, is this: Proper education involves molding the child so that when he is mature enough to make his own decisions, he will want to make the proper ones.

The reality of peer pressure cannot be denied. There is an old saying: And so, by default, when there develops an expanded distance between parents and children, the latter more likely will be shaped by the impact of their peers. Everyone is influenced by someone. Unfortunately, our increasingly modernized world has resulted in a widening gap between parents and children. Historically, several social factors have contributed to this state of affairs. First, there was a time, not terribly long ago, when American culture was largely agrarian.

Parents and frequently even grandparents were closely associated with their offspring for long hours of the day. Parental influence was almost constant.

Nature vs. Nurture: How Much Influence Do Parents Have?

With the advent of the industrial revolution, fathers began to leave the rural domain for work in the cities. Mothers had to assume more of the domestic responsibility; accordingly, their time was consumed increasingly by material matters.

Second, two world wars, along with other embattlements, took fathers away from their families. As a consequence, many mothers went into the factories to help support their children. Again, from the very nature of the circumstances, children suffered an accelerated deprivation of parental influence. As a result, at least in part, of these major historical developments, the following societal conditions have evolved. Some of these may, or may not, be beyond the control of the parents.

That is not my place to judge. Each person must attempt to look honestly at his or her own circumstances. Absent fathers Many fathers are working long hours to meet their material needs. Due to the expense of city living, families have tended to move to more rural areas. Some men are commuting two to four hours a day, back and forth to their jobs. They leave before daylight and arrive home after dark. They scarcely see their children except for a few hours on the weekend.

Fathers frequently work at two jobs.