The role of nature versus nurture is a well researched and documented topic, borne out most especially amongst the twin population – the perfect case study if you like. You need look no further than my own teenage twin boys to see that nature very much plays a part in their different personalities and behaviour.
My boys differ quite significantly, not just in looks but in personality traits – after all they are non-identical twins. One is an extreme extrovert (hence his incessant appetite for social activities) and one is more introverted, and quite content with his own company. They are also different in appearance, one having a more solid build as per the fraternal line and one more wiry as per the maternal line, coupled with different eye colour, skin tone etc. Many people would probably be surprised to learn they are brothers let alone twins.
From day one their personality differences were apparent. Man-Child was a typical high-demand baby, desperate for attention and to be the first on the breast (once we’d got past tandem feeding – yikes!). Teen-Child was far more patient and placid, happy to play second fiddle to his impatient sibling. As developing toddlers, Man-Child seemed to lead the way in everything, and sure enough about one month later Teen-Child would follow. Now as teenagers I think Man-Child was probably about six months ahead of Teen-Child in developmental terms as they entered adolescence.
In terms of how these differences manifest themselves in teenage lives, here’s a classic example of their Saturday afternoon activities about a year ago (just going on 13 years old). Man-Child was off at the cinema with a couple of mates and some girls to see a movie. Trammed down there, saw the flick, probably went to Maccas and generally “hung” with the girls, testosterone no doubt surging through his veins. Teen-Child meanwhile was off at a mate’s place. When I casually enquired how he had filled his afternoon he told me that he and his friend had spent their time hiding in the piles of autumn leaves on the footpath, and jumping out of them to startle innocent passers-by!!!! Apart from a great example of the role of nature over nurture in determining my twins behaviour, I was actually delighted that my early teenager could still have such simple and innocent fun (thank God they didn’t give any elderly people a heart attack)! I am confident that Man-Child wouldn’t do this sort of thing in a million years, then or now. I think he’s just to “cool” (in his own mind) to do something like that, sadly.
Wind the clock forward a year, and both of my “man-childs” are now actively social, out and about constantly each weekend with friends (of both sexes of course). The only thing they seem to come home for is to change their clothes and refuel. And whilst their personalities remain quite different, their general belligerence and teenage attitude is actually very similar (much to the angst of their parents)!!