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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Ultimate Nature vs. Nurture

Addie and I seem to be sharing some fears lately.  It seems these last few weeks she has developed one new fear after another, to the point where she is terrified of the most harmless items in our house.  I know that is normal for this age, with discovering new things and becoming independent, but this is really overwhelming for me as a parent.  It is just so sudden, and so extreme.

She has always been a timid little girl.  Even in the womb I would feel her kick extra hard when I vacuumed or started the coffee grinder.  These last few days, however, have been over the top.  Things she laughed at two days ago are now things she can't even look at without bursting into tears. She wouldn't leave her play room last night because there was a tennis ball in the door way.  She just stood there looking at it and sobbing.  Reaching out for me.  What do I do in that situation? She's too young to just let her "get over it" and tell her the ball won't hurt her.  I worry about coddling her and letting her know she has a reason to be scared.  I also worry that if I'm not coddling her, I'm pushing her to face those fears too soon.  I feel like we're walking a tightrope lately, and my balance has never been great. One day I'm going to tip too far to one side or the other, and there could be lifelong consequences.

They say these traits are genetic.  This scares me.  I was shy and timid growing up. I was so shy as a kid, that my best friend in high school told me one day that when she first met me, she thought I was a deaf-mute.  It was that bad.  I grew out of this "phase" right around the time that my father moved out of state.  Personally, I always thought maybe I was timid because of him (he was a very stern man) but maybe it was not his fault after all.  Maybe it is just a trait I will pass on to  my daughter.  Maybe she will grow up just as shy and timid as I did.  If that's the case, I can only hope that sooner or later, she will start showing some of her daddy's traits and be able to grow up with a nice balance. I was scared of everything.  So much so, that after some spooky stories told to me by a friend, I was in therapy.  We always considered it a fluke.  Just the wrong stories told at the wrong age, but what if it was just genetic? What if the same thing could happen to Addison?  I don't want her to fear the world.  I don't want her growing up unable to remember most of her childhood because she blocked out the scary parts.

I feel like I am stuck in the ultimate nature vs. nurture debate.  It's making me question my past...and my daughter's future.  Maybe this seems like a silly fear, but unless you lived the childhood I did-scared of everything...even an empty wall-it's hard to imagine it being this real.  Is this something I will be able to avoid for my daughter? Can my nurturing help her overcome her fears? Or is it in her nature to walk the same path as her mother? 


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