When I saw Jen's Spin Cycle topic this week, I thought, "Oh, that's a fuck-ton (thank-you Jan's son for my new word) to deal with."
As a parent, I've thought about and discussed this topic endlessly with friends as we watched our children grow; we were baffled at the differences in personalities of the siblings we were rearing in our homes.
As an educator I have seen the gamut. I worked several years in a high risk youth program in the most poverty stricken part of the island and seen resilient youth rise above the most horrid of environments, while the majority succumbed to the same.
I worked many years in a middle class community with teens who had many advantages and parents who had the types of expectations and boundaries that should have sent these kids off into the right direction. Many of them chugged on down the channel while others were hell bent to swim against the current and make a mess of their lives.
I've shaken my head at fellow educators (usually the childless ones) who barked platitudes about apples and trees. Sometimes kids are on a path that has nothing to do with what they learned at home.
During the unbloggable, a friend of mine who has a graduate degree in psychology recommended a book to me. The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling by James Hillman. From Amazon review:
Hillman's work on soul has fed the public imagination with the nourishing idea that we are vastly deeper and more permeable to the influences around us than we may think. Here, Hillman discusses character and calling, introducing an "acorn theory" that claims that "each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny." Borrowing the language of Plato's Myth of Ur, Hillman suggests that this imaginary sense of our lives or callings drives each of us like a personal daimon or force. Drawing on extraordinary lives from Judy Garland to Coco Chanel to Hitler, he describes the movements of the daimon, showing how it can use everything in our environment, from lucky accidents to bad movies, to allow the acorn to "grow down" and express itself in the real material of our lives. Without succumbing to oversimplification or wishful thinking, Hillman challenges the reductive "parental fallacy," the contention that our early experience with our parents determines our selves and our futures.
The book made sense to me and filled in a bit of the gap between nature and nurture and added that something else. For more spins on this topic, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.