While the debate rages on in scientific and philosophic circles about Nature vs. Nurture, I think that simple observation of a multiple-childhood household provides ample evidence of both. Obviously children in similar environments will develop similar traits. And what is the point of teaching them at all, if Nature determines development exclusively. However, anyone who has more than one child, raised in the same household, knows that these little beings absolutely come pre-programmed with personality. In this instance, my evidence comes from two of my children's reactions to the Disney movie, Tarzan.
When Lily watched Tarzan first, at about four or five years old, she was very emotional and upset by the gorillas' treatment of Tarzan. Every time the "Daddy monkey" came on the screen, she would curl up and hide her eyes. She asked me, her eyes brimming with tears, "why are they being so mean to Tarzan? He can't help how he looks." She ended up putting Tarzan in her least-favorite movie category, despite the happy ending.
Fast forward a few years to last week, and now Chloe is watching Tarzan for the first time. She also gets upset at the treatment Tarzan receives, but with completely different reason. She says to me, "why are they making it look like the Daddy monkey is mean? He's absolutely right - Tarzan is a human, and nothing he can do will ever change that." Through the rest of the movie, she rolled her eyes and snorted at what, to her, was an illogical lie. Tarzan couldn't be a gorilla. It's the truth, why try to get around it? And why should those who speak the truth be vilified? Chloe put Tarzan in her least-favorite movie category too, mostly because of the happy ending.
How can two little girls raised in the same house have such opposite gut-reactions to the identical story-line? Because Lily is Lily, and Chloe is Chloe. That's all I know. I can't wait to see how their different outlooks play out as they grow up. I see Lily as an artist, maybe a veterinarian, or a social worker - Chloe as a lawyer, a politician, or a princess. Time will tell.
(For the record, Chloe did actually use the phrase, "absolutely right." I giggled about that for quite a while.)