Some challenge the whole idea that the personality of adults is determined largely by the way they were raised by their parents (see, Judith Rich Harris). This idea minimizes nurturing, which I think is a mistake. How much a child is talked to, read to, introduced to new ideas, allowed to imagine, all impact their ability to learn, be successful, and be comfortable as themselves. It is true that as they grow older, young people are more influenced by friends than parents. But the friends they choose to be around will be largely determined by the values and skills they were introduced to from 0 to 5 years of age.
To not take your role as a dad seriously, by assuming you have little control of your children’s nature, is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Nature will do its work - but having half a brain will tell you that your influence, as a human being, can complement nature. Having a parachute will ‘nurture’ you to a safe landing. The ‘nature’ of gravity doesn't care.
I look at the nature/nurture controversy in the context of nature itself. I’ll use a bonsai tree as an example. By nature, a tree will always be a tree. You can’t change it into a tomato plant any more than you can change your child’s ethnicity from Asian, African, or European. But in the hands of a skilled hobbyist, certain trees can be trained to be a bonsai tree, which can take on different shapes and sizes to render different impressions. Pruning, bending, tying and repotting all help keep the tree compact. If you were to take a bonsai tree and plant it in the landscape, it would grow into a regular-sized tree.
Nurturing is defined as supporting and encouraging, in this instance, your children. The results of nurturing are the characteristics acquired as a consequence of the way you were treated as a child. A properly nurtured child is certainly more educated, polite and responsible. Nature provides a potential IQ ability, but nurturing provides the opportunities to use it. Nature may cause you to be an introvert or extrovert, but nurturing will help an introvert to blossom or an extrovert to be in control.
Certainly, some parents support and encourage the wrong things. And while society may suffer for these misguided ideals (e.g. superior attitudes), the child may still feel valued and loved for the attention and guidance, even if it is misguided. But what child feels valued if not nurtured?
This past summer I planted a garden. Nature did its work. The seeds took root then tomatoes, potatoes and peppers started to appear. Alas, I was unable to take care of the small plot properly. I had not the skill, patience or time. The results were more weeds than food.
You don’t have the power to change nature. But you do have the power to work with nature, and that can be nurturing. Unlike me and my garden, please learn the skills, have the patience, and make time for your children!
The checklist in my previous post may help.