Originally I was going to title this post:  Genetics and Epigenetics….but decided that would be a little too “heavy” for anyone reading.

But let’s get sciency for a minute.

I study all about the genetic and environmental influences on child development (this is what I’ve been going to grad school for…..for the past 5 years), and its something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

Anyone who has taken an Intro to Pysc course should be familiar with the old “nature vs nurture” debate:  Which contributes more to child development – their “nature’ (genes) or their “nurture” (parenting/environment). However, now everyone understands that BOTH contribute to child development at all points throughout the lifespan.

Epigenetics is an entire field dedicated to looking at non-hereditary changes to the GENES that can occur due to ENVIRONMENTAL variation. So the two are always intertwined. They can’t be easily separated.

What does this say about parenting?

It’s probably more important than we think.

Of course, no one is perfect, and I’m sure we’ll make mistakes with our parenting. But one of the pieces of advice I often hear is that “you’ll make mistakes – but as long as you love your kids, everything will be fine.” But is that really true? How can you possibly know that your love will be “enough” to buffer your kids against whatever parenting mistakes you happen to make while raising them?

And often times, the best “buffering” comes in the form of grandparents – ready to swoop in and help if needed, particularly in times of distress or difficult situations. But what if we live geographically isolated from any family? We totally lack these additional “buffers”!

I guess you just have to figure it out as you go. But I’m starting to feel the weight of the responsibility – the responsibility of having the title of “mother.” It’s certainly a scary/exciting/crazy new part of life!