Thursday, 11 September 2008

Like Father, Scratch That, Like Mother Like Son

I’ve often pondered how much a child is like his parents.

How much of their personality, behaviour and traits are indicative of their genes?

It was a point I raised in my relative youth, quite by accident, when on one of my first foreign business trips.

I was trying to be as sophisticated as possible, as I’d been seated next to the company owner’s wife, for an evening gala thingy with all the company’s top brass.

In those days I used alcohol exclusively to get smashed. Nothing less, sometimes a lot more.

So hobnobbing at snazzy dos when there were free drinks on the go was not one of my strengths.

It was a multi-national company, but it had been started by this single family in Denmark, so there was also rather a different culture to try and adapt to.

They basically like hunting and sailing.

Hunting was fine, I can eat the hind leg off most creatures, perhaps never shooting them, but I could sort-of make conversation, or at least appear interested.

At the time I was a keen jet-skier, which meant I was evil in the eyes of these sailors, who thought motors on the water should be reserved for moving Norwegian oil and gas.

I digress, a lot.

Thing is I was struggling for conversation with the generation above me, so I thought, what do my parents talk about.

Ah, kids.

So I asked about the boss’s children, what they were called, what they did, how much they got involved with the company, and, eventually, I asked who do they take after.

A perfectly genuine and innocent question.

“We adopted them, so I don’t know,” retorted the multi-millionaire’s most beautiful wife.

After my panic had subsided, I realised there was quite a lot lost in translation of my question. And there was a systematic approach by this woman, who had mothered them since they were babies, which meant she still couldn’t accept that the children could be like them because of genetics.

I didn’t argue much, as you can well imagine, but I didn’t agree.

You can’t spend that much time in a child’s life and not have them pick up any of you.

Humour is apparently learnt behaviour so that at least means they’ll laugh at the same things as you.

Much more must be taught rather than simply inherited.

That typed, I see a lot of my wife in my son.

It may be co-incidence, perhaps me looking for it, but I like to think that some of his mannerisms and attitudes come right from his wonderful mother.

He pulls exactly the same faces, sleeps in a similar fashion and knows exactly how to get round his daddy.

I hope he has got a lot more from his mom.

Not just because I love seeing glimpses of her through him, but mainly because she was such a belter. Share/Save/Bookmark


The Grocer said...

Interesting subject matter, I was always environment rather than genetic inheritance, for years I have argued that environment has the biggest impact but since having non identical twins I have changed my views a little. My boy and girl have completely different personalities, at 11 months they are chalk and cheese so I am now in the 50/50 camp.

Kori said...

Like the grocer, I too am in the 50/50 camp; because my two oldest who have lived with me probably 90%of the time, but every once in awhile me son will turn his head a certain way that is EXACLTY his dad, my daughter has other I would have to say now that I believe it truly is a combination of both.

Ms. Single Mama said...

I agree 100%. Even though my son only sees his father briefly and once a week, he has so many of his physical mannerisms.

The way he walks. The way he holds his shoulders back. The way he holds a book.

But he also has my smile, my eyes and my laugh. It is so weird. My ex-husband is still on this Earth but he just informed me, as you know, that he's leaving for Chicago - taking off and picking up out of our lives. I'm not sure when it will happen but it will happen.

And I have had this thought often over the past two years... a vision of myself years from now looking at our son and seeing his father in him despite the fact that he will have been absent.

I'm hoping he picks up only his good traits. And he does have a few.

Thanks for this post... and for sharing the picture. I love it!

T said...

I love how you link to definitions of the slang terms you use. Very funny.

Yeah, my kids both looked like their dad at first but are starting to look like me now as they are getting older. (If you can count 6 and 3 as older...)

But yes, we surely see lots of me in my older daughter and lots of her dad in my younger daughter. Its pretty endearing to me because I actually still like my ex-husband. I can see where it would be annoying if it was any other situation.

My soldier is adopted and though he was adopted by his family at 3 days of age, he is, at times, very different from his family. He wonders often what his birth family is like but doesn't really want to look them up. I guess you never know.

Single Parent Dad said...

Interesting Grocer. Nice to read you are conducting your own research. So would you know say that one takes after you and the other your wife?

Kori - I agree, some inherent, some from your environment and influences.

Ms single mama, thanks for your comment and seal of approval! So it will be no bad thing that he picks up these traits, that's got to be good.

Thanks T. I didn't realise I used so much slang languange until people started telling me I'd lost them, especially my lovely state-side visitors.

Interesting for your soldier not to know his bio-family and how much, or little, he takes after them. Must be like scratching an itch to know.

Tismee2 said...

It depends who is doing the looking I think. I often get told that both my boys look like me but then someone else will say they are the spit of their Dad. Either they are very alike us both in many ways or it depends what kind of face they have on that day - LOL

The Grocer said...

No, physically they each have different characteristics some more like one parent than the other. Their personalities seem to be a mixture too. I can see more of me in my middle son (Stumpy, 5). I think it's a little like when I make soup, I can uise the same ingredients but I never measure the amounts so each time is a little different.

Penelope said...

This is an interesting subject that I hadn't thought of in your situation until now. My brother is adopted and had exactly the same advantages and disadvantages as my sister and I but turned out completely differently. (So much so that we are no longer in contact.) I've always believed more in Nurture over Nature but the more I think about it the more I think that this is a bit like building a lego house. You have blue bricks and red bricks. You can build exactly the same houses but one will always be blue and the other will always be red. This is a ridiculously waffly comment - sorry!

dadshouse said...

You left some slang on my blog the other day. What in the kitchen is a hob?

My kids live with me half-time, and their mom half-time, and it's been that way for 8 years. I totally see traits, looks, mannerisms that I can pinpoint to their mom, or to me. They've picked up stuff from both of us.

Which can be maddening, if it's a bad trait from the ex...

Xbox4NappyRash said...

It's got to be a bit of both - I apparently sit the same way as my mother who's passed more than 20 years now, and walk exactly the same as my sister even though we haven't lived in the same place for 15 years.

Yet I know I have picked up mannerisms from my wife now through just being around her so much.

You are more tuned into recognising the traits Max shares with him mum, long may they continue shining through.

Andrea said...

Another interesting post. My son, who was born 4 years after my dad passed away is almost a replica of the great man, his talents, his interests, his humour, the funny way he holds his elbows tight into his sides and wiggles his fingers when he's going in to take a hold of something he particularly likes... like a big cream cake! It's all genetic, it has to be... I don't display any of these traits, OK perhaps the sense of humour.

My dad and myself and my son all share a totally crazy whacky sense of humour and laugh at most everything, even when we're supposed to be serious (yeah, I giggled right through my wedding vows because the guy reading them out did something that only I found amusing) yet my daughter has a very dry sense of humour and she was brought up just by me with very very little input from her equally dry sense of humoured dad. A couple of my 6 sibings shared my dad's zany humour but not all of us. This is interesting and I need to think about it more...

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