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Nature Vs. Nurture: Parental Promotion Of A False Dichotomy

1784 words - 7 pages

Introduction
For over a decade, Sir Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, has puzzled scholars with the question of whether personality is determined by ones biology or environment (Galton, 1874). The term “nature versus nurture” quickly became a catch phrase to distinguish the difference between personality traits that are hereditary versus those that are built on environment. As a parent, I instill in my children an active lifestyle, intelligence, and independence to promote leadership. The qualities described may lead you to assume that I have two sons, but contrary to popular belief, I am raising two amazing daughters.
Gender should not to be confused with sex, although they are often incorrectly used as substitutes for one another. “Sex refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women” while “gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women,” as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2011). An individual’s sex can change through surgery, but their gender is a dynamic set of guidelines that are promoted by society, also called socialization. Scientists realize there are significant roles of both nature and nurture in personality; however, nurture’s role in adolescent development of gender is the concern of this paper. As parents, we want our children to succeed and have opportunities that we may not have been privy to. In order to do so, we often want our children to live normal and fulfilling lives that conform to society. This leads us to the question: as a heterosexual parent, how
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am I imparting the false dichotomy of gender, a stereotype of personality traits being either masculine or feminine, to my children through socialization during adolescent development.

Literature Review
Role of Communication in Promoting Gender
Due to advancements in technology, specifically ultrasounds, parents can identify the sex of their unborn child. Depending on the sex of their child, parents create an environment conducive to promoting the qualities of their adolescent's gender. The social learning theory states that children passively learn gender through observation, imitation, and modeling (Bakir, 2010). For example, if parents discover they are going to have a son, they communicate gender by decorating the baby nursery in blue, filling their closets with camouflage and athletic clothing, and filling their toy box with fire trucks, LEGO’s, and tool sets. Parents expecting a son avoid the colors pink and purple, clothing such as lacey dresses and bonnets, and toys such as dolls, play kitchens, and fake makeup. There is a similar but opposite result when a parent expects a daughter.
Parents play a significant role in defining differences in gender by engaging in different types of communication between sons and daughters. For instance, parents tend to “promote independence and...

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