DNA could determine whether children learn from mistakes or cope with abuse, some scientists now believe. About 30 percent of people are born with few dopamine receptors, which “is linked to an inability to avoid self-destructive behavior such as illicit drug use,” Newsweek reports.
But the effects spill beyond such extremes. Children with the genetic variant are unable to learn from mistakes. No matter how many tests they blow by partying the night before, the lesson just doesn’t sink in.
Researchers also say that mellow kids aren’t necessarily easy to raise.
One of the strongest and most counterintuitive findings in this nascent field is that children with a sweet temperament, which is under strong genetic control, are the least likely to emulate their parents and absorb the lessons they teach, while fussy kids are the most likely to do so. Fussy children have a hypersensitive nervous system that is keenly attuned to its surroundingsâ€”including what Mom and Dad do and say.
Hmm. My daughter was very mellow, but also very attuned to her surroundings and to parental influence. She wasn’t nervous. She was curious. Well, I guess there are many genes at work.
Some children are born with a gene that protects them from the emotional effects of abuse or neglect, Newsweek reports. They’re less likely to develop mental-health problems or alcoholism.
So, depending on the luck of the genetic draw, good parenting may not pay off as much as you’d expect and bad parenting may not hurt as much as you’d expect. I think it still pays to try to be a good parent.