Friday, April 19, 2013

What letter does your surname begin with, the one you had when you were at school?

Funny question.

When you become a foster carer you get even more interested in all the things that make a difference to how a child turns out.

The argument about nature versus nurture still goes on, but a new book I'm reading at the moment about babies brains says that it's widely thought nowadays there's a third thing which may be the biggest factor in personality, they're calling it temperament.

The thinking is we're born with a personality that's separate from the genes and chromosomes that determine our hair colour and the shape of our nose.

Parents with two or more children are usually surprised at the differences between them. Even identical twins have different personalities. Psychologists used to insist this is down to the fact that even children born into the same family have different upbringings. The fashionable argument was that the eldest child has a very different upbringing from the youngest, simply because the eldest starts life with no other children around. New research concludes that idea may be a bit overstated, mainly because the old research depended on the fact that rich families had fewer children, poor families had lots of children, so the research done on the fifth sixth and seventh child was skewed because they all came from a small specific group in society.

Oh, look, to be honest, I'm afraid I think the fact is that the experts and researchers and doctors and child psychologists have learned a great deal over the last 100 years, but you know that Chinese saying about even a thousand mile journey starts with the first step? That's how far they've come. Taken the first step.

I have a friend who's a bit of a Buddhist, she believes we're all born with bits of the people we used to be in past lives inside us. When one of our sons was born a midwife told us that lots of midwives reckon they can tell just after the birth if a baby has been here before.

Who knows?

This is the thing, when you're parenting away like billyo. Who knows the effects of rigid boundaries versus relaxed, of competitive activities versus cooperative ones.

We were sitting around the table arguing about Margaret Thatcher this week, it occurred to me she was a rare thing, a Prime Minister whose name began with a letter towards the end of the alphabet. I Googled it and it turns out that I'm more right than I thought; the vast majority of our PM's name's start with A, B or C, since 1900 anyway. Cameron, Brown, Blair, Atlee (who started the NHS), Balfour, Asquith, Churchill. Even many who who don't begin with AB or C are up there: Eden, Douglas-Home. 
It's wierd. Or is it?

Maybe being a boy who's name was read out first in the class register every day made them feel important.

So, if little things like that can make such a massive difference, what chance have we foster carers got of getting everything right?

The Secret Foster Carer


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