My husband and I ran a group home for teenage girls for over nine years. The girls were struggling with “major” life issues, some had been abandoned, others had sexual identity issues, a few were addicted to drugs, and struggling with Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa. Many of these girls survived their environments and some did not. Was it something they were exposed to or was it something they were predisposed to? Nature or Nurture, or perhaps it was a little of both. The Nature vs. Nurture theory has been argued, fought over and debated for centuries by such intellectuals as Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Darwin.
The phrase Nature vs. Nurture has been attributed to Francis Galton, who was also the cousin of Charles Darwin.? Galton became an openly anti-Christian bigot. Galton wrote about prayer: “I do not propose any special inquiry whether the general laws of physical nature are ever changed in response to prayer: whether, for instance, success has attended the occasional prayers in the Liturgy when they have been used for rain, for fair weather, for the stilling of the sea in a storm, or for the abatement of a pestilence.
The modern feeling of this country is so opposed to a belief in the occasional suspension of the general laws of nature that most English readers would smile at such an investigation. ” (Memories of My Life, Galton, Nabu Press, August 28, 2010) Nature vs. Nurture is an argument that, in all probability, will never be settled. I know that for me, I am no closer to a choice than I was when I started working with teenagers. Edward Shorter says this about the Nature-Nurture opinions: “Yet in the 1950s, advocates of psychoanalysis and community psychiatry argued that biology played virtually no role, that it was all nurture and no nature.
So the argument that nature and nurture stand in some kind of Nature vs. Nurture 3 fifty-fifty relationship is already quite extreme from the viewpoint of thirty years ago. One need not be an organic absolutist to place organic factors in their proper perspective: Nature and Nurture intertwine. ” (A History of Psychiatry, 1997 E. Shorter pp 287) I think I most agree with this assessment as I have seen both in action and I have seen both be dominant in certain people.
The nature theory is that we are all born with predisposed traits, such as personality, intelligence and even sexual orientation; these traits are not influenced by the environment but biology. The nurture side or the “Tabula Blanca” (Blank Slate) is the theory that each of us is born with a “Blank Slate”: and that our environment determines traits such as personality, intelligence, and sexual orientation. James Garbarino says this: “The question of whether bad behavior is preprogrammed genetically is one of the central controversies in child development.
An informed starting point is to remember that child development requires the interplay of biology and society, the characteristics children bring with them into the world and the way the world treats them, nature and nurture. Sociobiology emphasizes a genetic origin for social behavior: some characteristics promote survival, and thus reproduction, more than other characteristics. In contrast, what researchers Benjamin Pasamaniack calls social biology concentrates on the social origins of biological phenomena (e. g. , the impact of poverty on infant health).
The key is that there are social implications of genetically based individual behaviors; the social impact of biologically rooted traits can affect the survival of individual people and groups of related people, and thus the likelihood that a particular genetic pattern will be passed along to surviving offspring. ” (Lost Boys, James Garbarino, Ph. D. Simon and Schuster Inc. , 1999 pp. 73-74) Nature vs. Nurture 4 In my thirty years of working with young teens I have experienced a variety of issues.
One such as a family which had two daughters, both raised in the same environment, the oldest became a drug addict for many years. Throughout the years, the family went to several drug rehab centers, doctors, psychologists, and therapists. One doctor told the family that there was nothing anyone could do. When asked why, the doctor said “She was predisposed to be this way! ” This would be an argument for nature; one struggling with addiction and the other not being affected. Both living in the same environment yet one, according to the doctors, was predisposed to addiction.
This young lady found Jesus and He cleansed her from her drug addiction and she has been clean now for over 15 years. Jesus can clean up our predisposition and our nature. I met a young African-American man when he was in the 7th grade. He lived in the projects with his grandmother, mother, sister, and younger brother, all in a three bedroom apartment. The father had left this family and they became poverty stricken. The difference was the mother! She was fearless and wanted her children to use education to rise above their circumstances.
This young man is now the assistant principal at a local high school. His family has moved out of the projects and both his sister and brother graduated from college. They did not allow their environment to dictate their future. However, I feel that their environment helped. Their mother was their environment not the projects. So was this family predisposed to make it out of the projects? Or was it the affect their mother had on them? I think that it was both. Nature vs. Nurture 5 In my experience there is no doubt that environment plays a huge part.
That is because the environment is something we can see, it’s natural, you can look at a situation and see what the surroundings are and make a judgment. With nature you can’t really see it per say so it is harder to make a judgment on what really causes someone to act a certain way or become the person that they become. In our group home setting my husband and I did everything we possibly could do to make it a loving environment. These girls had never experienced unconditional love.
I know that a loving environment has the ability to change people. No matter what has gone on before in their lives. Not every person we “loved on” made it. Recently my husband and I were watching the evening news and heard a report of a prostitute being arrested downtown for stabbing a man.
When her name was given it was a young lady that had lived in our home and my husband and I had tried to adopt. I believe that I am more of a nurture person than a nature person. I believe that nurture can change nature, if that is even possible. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:4, “so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature” (ESV). He prefaces that by saying in verse three that Jesus has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness.
I know that for many of these teens we worked with what they needed was not just love and nurture but they needed to be made partakers of the divine nature. Nature and Nurture, intertwined together. Nature vs. Nurture 6 References Galton, Francis, Memories of My Life, Nabu Press, August 28, 2010. Shorter, Edward, A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac, 1997, John Wiley and Sons Inc. Publisher. Garbarino, James, Ph. D. Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them, 1999, The Free Press, a Division of Simon and Schuster Inc.
Publisher The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (2008) Crossway a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. FINAL PAPER GRADING RUBRIC.
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