Tag Archives: genetics and the environment

We are Responsible for Who Our Children Become

13 Jun

After reading this chapter in my textbook for my Infant and Toddler Development class, it amazes me on how many factors can affect a child’s environment.  It is kind of frightening actually, as a child can be enormously affected by factors that they have no control over. According to the journal by Knafo and Plomin, a child’s prosocial behavior is heavily influenced from the parenting styles chosen by his or her mother and father.  This makes me want to be the perfect parent.

I believe this is a fear of mine, but isn’t it the fear of anyone who will be a parent someday?  I am absolutely petrified that I will not raise my children in the “ideal” fashion.  It’s kind of funny of how I am not ashamed to admit that in the least bit–how very vulnerable of me!

I strongly believe that genetics does affect the environment.  As explained on page 85 in the Berk text, passive correlation is when values are instilled in children when they have no control over it.  The book uses the example of a child inheriting athletic abilities or interests because their parent(s) had emphasized outdoor activities.  However, what if the passive correaltion is not so positive?  In some cases, violence is hereditary; it is sometimes passed down for more than one generation.  Children cannot control these unfortunate circumstances, which means there is a possibility that they may inherit this quality and become violent themselves.

The other side of this negative passive correlation that I speak of is the simple fact that not every child is affected by it, or they are not always a product of their environment, so to speak.  On page 86, it states that “accumulating evidence reveals that the relationship between heredity and environment is not a one-way street, from genes to environment to behavior”.  Both affect one another; it is biodirectional.  It was proven in the study on page 86 that unfavorable genetic-environment correalation can be uncoupled through good, caring, parenting strategies.  Through good parenting, positive experiences are bestowed among children, which “modify the expression of heredity”.  For example, a child may have had negative passive-correaltion from their biological parents.  Let’s say he or she was then adopted by a kind, loving family that treated them in a positive manner–this could very well result in prosocial behavior rather than aggression, or other unfavorable attitudes.

As mentioned in the Berk text, genes affect children’s behavior and experiences, but their experiences and behavior also affect gene expression.  So, I while I do agree that genetics affects the environment, I also believe in the biodirectional theory; that the environment affects genetics as well.  I am a walking example of this.  My childhood was not perfect, but who’s is anyway?  I made a huge promise to myself–my kids will have it a lot better than I did, and I strongly believe that I am the only one who is responsible for this outcome.

Berk, E., Laura. Infants and Children: Prenatal Through Middle Childhood. 7th ed. Pearson Education, Inc. 2012.

Knafo, Ariel, and Robert Plomin. “Prosocial Behavior from Early to Middle Childhood: Genetic and Environmental Influences on Stability and Change.” Developmental Psychology 42.5 (2006): 771-86. Print.

(http://pluto.huji.ac.il/~mshayo/Ebstein3_Prosocial_behavior.pdf)

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