Nature vs. Nurture?

While discussing “The Business of Being Born” in class today, we addressed the part of the film that discusses the surge of oxytocin released during natural birth, and how it serves to create a bond between mother and child. This is true for all mammals, yet many can attest to having a very strong bond with their mother, whether they were born vaginally, via cesarian section, or adopted. For me, this raises yet another “nature vs. nurture” debate. My mother gave birth to my younger brother just fifteen months after I was born and thus had two babies on her hands. Because my brother needed closer care as he was an infant, I spent a lot of time being cared for by my father. This apparently had quite an impact – according to my parents, when I was around four or five years old I insisted that I had come from my father’s belly (i.e. my father had given birth to me). While this is a silly misunderstanding by a little kid, I think that today it is quite an apt metaphor because my father and I have an extremely strong connection; we seem to be very much on the same wavelength. Everyone has unique experiences with their mothers and fathers, and of course there is a lot of research that has (and has not) been done on parent/child bonds. But I was wondering what you all lean towards – is this bond (in the case of humans) shaped more by nature or by nurture?

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One thought on “Nature vs. Nurture?

  1. deidrem2013

    I believe it can work both ways. The surge of oxytocin from a vaginal birth isn’t one that I think has a particularly long-lasting effect (as others pointed out in class, you get surges of oxytocin from a hug or having a orgasm during sex with a person, and they certainly don’t necessitate a long-term bond like a mother and child). However, the short-term benefit is probably important in making the mother immediately get beyond the painful experience of birth and protect a defenseless child (as human babies, compared to other animals, are born prematurely developmentally as a rule). It’s likely the final component of all the neurological changes in a pregnant brain. But as all other relationships in humans show (fathers who certainly don’t give birth to children, adoptive parents, same-sex parents, siblings, friends, romantic attachments), the power of the endurance of a relationship would come from situations of closeness and relative similarity and all the other components of attachment to each other.

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