Nurture vs. Nature

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“It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons” – Johan Schiller. When we are born into a family, we inherit a blood relationship that ties us to our relatives but there is something else that creates a real family. Though blood is what initially unites a child to their ancestors, it is the people who raise, love and care for us as children that become our true family.

In Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth, Janice was born into a native family but at only a year old, she was torn away from it and raised by white parents whom she began to consider her mother and father. In the story, she explains the impact of her adoption in the following quote: “Janice: ‘I was born here but don’t feel at home here […]

She’s family and I’m not because the Children’s Aid Society took me away’” (Drew Hayden Taylor, 90). She also speaks of how hard it was to adapt once she learned the truth: “Janice: ‘I wanted to belong here so bad. […] But from the moment I arrived, I knew I didn’t belong’” (Drew Hayden Taylor, 99). Although Janice was given birth to by a loving and caring mother who would have raised her wonderfully, she was taken away before she was old enough to form a bond with her. On the other hand, her adoptive parents raised her to be a good person and she grew to love them as her family.

As the above quotes depict, 35 years later, learning the truth of her biological family for the first time, Barb expects Janice to put all of her trust in them because they are related by blood. I agree with Janice who believes that even if Barb is her defined version of family, it’s difficult to jump into a sister relationship when they hardly know one another. It takes a lot more than a mere technicality to call someone your sister. This situation can be related to astory belonging to one of my friends. When she was born, her father abandoned her and her mother.

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At an extremely young age, she was supplied with a stepfather who helped raise her and is now considered by her as a real dad. Recently, the biological father tried toreach out to this friend of mine but she doesn’t consider him family because they share nothing besides blood. Without his love and care growing up, he is not much more to her than a stranger. He wasn’t there to read her bedtime stories, see her graduate from middle school, or hear her talk about her first boyfriend.

Any sort of bonding tradition, like her family’s annual barbeque, wasn’t shared with this man. In her eyes, and I share the same opinion, the two of them cannot simply jump into a father-daughter relationship that didn’t exist her entire life. Growing up at a far distance from your real family can make it tough to share a bond, but it can be just as difficult when you are living in the same community.

Another character affected in the play Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth is Tonto. After his mother passes away from alcohol abuse, he doesn’t have parents to be cared for by because his father often works in the city for long periods of time. Another family, on the same reserve as the one where he was born, therefore adopted Tonto. He still got the chance to see his dad every so often but other parents raised him. When his new parents gave birth to another son, he considered the resulting baby, Rodney, his brother. Tonto is proud to speak of his parentage: “Tonto: ‘I was placed with the Stones at the age of five and bang, here I am twenty-seven years later, a fine human being’” (Drew Hayden Taylor, 56-57).

He also speaks of his real father: “Tonto: ‘The truth is, we’re kinda related. Both being raised by other people.’ Janice: ‘And you go to see your Father.’ Tonto: ‘Oh yeah, every month or so’” (Drew Hayden Taylor, 57). As said in the quote, Tonto was raised such a short distance from his father but, growing up in a home with other caretakers, he still didn’t see much of his dad. The adoptive parents were very good to Tonto and the birth of another son, Rodney, made the four people become a family. They didn’t all share biological genes but their bond was nonreversible.

An example of this indestructible connection is how Tonto accompanies his brother on a long car ride to break into an apartment. Tonto doesn’t owe anything to Barb or Janice but he wants to help his brother. A separate text that I could relate this to is the Harry Potter series. The young boy named Harry, after the murder of his parents, grew up in a home of blood relatives who did not nurture him. This made him feel no connection to his aunt, uncle or cousin.

When he learns his true identity as a wizard and enters the magical world however, he meets people who continue to raise him until he is a man. Ron, Hermione, other caring friends, and the school Hogwarts itself all turn out to be his real family. “He wanted to be stopped, to be dragged back, to be sent back home… But he was home. Hogwarts was the first and best home he had known” (JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 558).

To conclude this essay, I would like to sum up the fact that family is a complex word to define. Conversely, it’s simple to me that genes can only hold together a group of people for so long until love and nurture are what really begin to count.

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