Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nature v.s. Nurture: Which One Do You Believe?

This morning, I woke up early (as usual lol) with morning sickness. The rest of my house was quiet because Lon and Alan were still sound asleep, so I channel surfed for something good to watch. I started watching this really interesting documentary on TLC about abandoned children who turn to animals for their care taking. It is called Wild Child: The Story of Feral Children. It really got me thinking about the ever old philosophy debate about nature v.s. nurture.

First we should go over what qualifies a child as feral. As sometimes referred to as children with the "Mowgli Syndrome," feral children are human children who have lived away from any human contact from a very young age, generally around two or three. Feral children often are abandoned by their parents and turn to animals, usually canines but there have been  other animals reported like horses or primates. In other cases, children are isolated by their parents on purpose, or treated like animals. These children normally do not speak and have very little social skills, they tend to act a lot like the animal that cared for them. Some of these children never leave their wild environment. It is quite sad, but these children should be seen as miraculous people.

Meet Oxana. She is a young girl who was found in the Ukraine in 1991. Her alcoholic parents had wanted a boy so when Oxana was born, she was abandoned in their backyard to fend for herself. Oxana's family had dogs and the dogs almost immediately took to her, treating her like she was their own. At only eight months old, the dogs breastfed her. And when she was older, they found her scraps to feed her. She was found at eight years old and already it seemed as though she would never act human. Oxana growled, barked, moved, bared her teeth and ate like a dog, sniffing at her food and being very protective of it. She was also found to have very acute senses of smell, sight and sound that had been developed from living with the dogs. She knew two words when she was found, the simple words "Yes" and "No". Oxana struggled with developing normal human skills, most of all language. Today, Oxana lives in a mental institute but can speak in simple sentences. She has come a long way, but doctors feel that she will never be able to fully enter modern society.

My first thought is always how can parents do this to their children? I can't even begin to fathom what would make a parent feel that it is okay to just leave their child, I have it so set into my core that motherhood is important. My friends have jokingly called me Mama Bear before. I mean, my children are just that: MY CHILDREN and there is nothing I can do to avoid that feeling of needing to nurture them.

My second thought is that this is a perfect example of nature v.s. nurture! Usually the examples are of studies done to twins who were adopted and raised in different families and how they differ. These cases usually show that even though the twins may be slightly similar in some aspects, they will differ when it comes to their religions, intelligence or personality. But feral children show us that nurture really does trump nature in most aspects: these children are born as humans but cared for by animals and they are more similar to the animals then their own parents.

Are you ready for my opinion lol? I believe that nature plays a part in the physical development but when it comes to emotional and social development, nurture is mainly in control. You probably thought I was going to say the opposite lol. Well I differ a little from the hippies! :P But how does this apply to us as parents? We need to allow nature to run its course with our children but remember that nurturing your child is also one of the most important things a parent can do. Simply give your child the time and love that you would want at their age. This will change as they grow, but they will always need some form of nurturing. I still desire to be nurtured sometimes. :)

I still want to know though, how do you feel? Do you agree with me or think that it should be the other way around? I think to hear your opinions! Comment on this post and tell me!

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