Nature vs. Nurture: The Unquantifiable Role of Mother's

Updated: Aug 1, 2018

How does science and spirituality combine to inform the centuries old nature versus nurture debate? What are the typical implications for the role of Mother in society given these black and white parameter's? Does a fresh look at science reveal the mysterious gray area that so often represents the beauty of life?

The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest philosophical issues within psychology. So what exactly is it all about?

  • Nature refers to all of the genes and hereditary factors that influence who we are—from our physical appearance to our personality characteristics.

  • Nurture refers to all the environmental variables that impact who we are, including our early childhood experiences, how we were raised, our social relationships, and our surrounding culture.

Discussions of mother’s and the role they play in our society often boil down to questions like: What do the different types of mother-child relationships look like? How can we characterize them, and what types of parenting behaviors produce different kinds of children?The corresponding broiler plate response to such inquiries refer to the three main types of attachment styles: Secure, Avoidant, and Anxious.

In the past, various branches of psychology often take a one versus the other approach. For example, biological psychology tends to stress the importance of genetics and biological influences. Behavioral psychology, on the other hand, focuses on the impact that the environment has on behavior. Today, most experts recognize that both factors play a critical role. Not only that, they also realize that nature and nurture interact in important ways all throughout life. 

People are beginning to realize that asking how much heredity or environment influence a particular trait is not the right approach. The reality is that there is not a simple way to disentangle the multitude of forces that exist. These influences include genetic factors that interact with one another, environmental factors that interact such as social experiences and overall culture, as well as how both hereditary and environmental influences intermingle. Instead, many researchers today are interested in seeing how genes modulate environmental influences and vice versa.

As a spiritually inclined person I will go on record to say that trying to untangle this web is synonymous with trying to untangle the web of life itself. The only thing important to garner from this centuries long conversation is that Mother’s matter in an unquantifiable way to everyone alive –past, present, and future. Here’s why:


Male Lineage Among the many things parents hand down to their children are 23 pairs of chromosomes – those thread-like structures in the nucleus of every cell containing the genetic instructions for every person. We inherit a set of 23 chromosomes from our mothers and another set of 23 from our fathers.

One of those pairs are the chromosomes that determine the biological sex of a child – girls have an XX pair and boys have an XY pair, with very rare exceptions in certain disorders. Females always pass an X chromosome onto their offspring. If the father passes on an X chromosome, the baby will be genetically female, and if the father passes on a Y chromosome, the baby will be genetically male. During that process of sexual reproduction, those two inherited chromosomes will “recombine” their genes, In this way, chromosomes exchange genetic information with each other. Thus, the son or daughter has combinations of traits that aren’t necessarily identical to either parent..

Though a short segment of the X and Y chromosomes are identical, gene sequencing has determined that more than 95 percent of the Y chromosome is unique to males – known as the male-specific region of the Y, or MSY. In fact, this region is so different from the X chromosome that the often-cited fact that humans are 99.9 percent genetically identical only applies when comparing people of the same sex. The fact that Men are from Mars women are from Venus rings true even from a biological standpoint.

Since only men have the Y chromosome, the genes on the MSY are thought to be involved in the determination of sex and development specific to males, including male fertility. This part of the Y chromosome does not recombine sexually with the X chromosome during reproduction --most of the genes on that chromosome don’t “mix” with the genes on the X. In genetic terms, they’re passed on asexually. 

While genetic recombination allows for the expression of diverse traits in offspring, the mostly linear transmission of the Y chromosome isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that trait has allowed scientists to understand the history of male ancestry as separate and distinct.

Female Lineage

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is inherited only through the maternal line. Every person has mtDNA and each person’s mtDNA is identical to his or her mother’s mtDNA, maternal grandmother’s mtDNA, and so forth. Both men and women have mtDNA,

Modern biologist agree that mitochondria were free-living organisms billions of years ago. Research shows that the ancestor of all mitochondria was a bacterium that was engulfed by another bacterium, but for one reason or another not digested, giving rise to the eukaryotes. The eukaryotes are basically all plants, animals and fungi, plus some rather weird organisms grouped together under Protista. It is suggested that mitochondria have retained their own genome, called mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA because of their history as free living organisms. In this way, mtDNA serves as a separate and distinct through-line not only in linking female ancestry –but in linking the heritage of all living organisms alive to today.

Moreover, mitochondria are the energy-producing factories of the cell; without them, a cell would not be able to generate energy from food. Tissues that require a lot of energy, such as your brain and your muscles, have cells packed with mitochondria. Because all mitochondria you received come from your mother only, you are technically more related to your mother than you are to your father. This is true for pretty much all animals. In plants and fungi too, mitochondria come from one parent only, although not necessarily from the mother.

The reason behind the evolution of so-called uniparental inheritance has long been a mystery among evolutionary biologists. One thing was clear to me, the creator makes no mistakes.

"Weather you consider heredity or environment to be more influential is of no concern to the fact that Mother’s play a unquantifiable role in the development and evolution of life." -Cocoa


For me, nature ismanifestation of the spiritual. It is evidence of a mysterious truth that is difficult to pin down with words. When I feel on edge or lonely or in need of inspiration I often seek out a place where I can be close to living things. Nature is like touchstone, a connection to the spiritual essence that resides in us. What insights can nature offer us about mothers and how does that connect to spirit.

The first covering, the seat of compassion in the world is the womb. In the womb, babies are protected from internal and external pressures by a wealth shields not unlike the skin of fruit that protects the seed, the various layers of atmosphere that protect us from radiation, or the egg shells that protect baby birds. The womb is literally and symbolically a saving grace. When we are too weak to protect ourselves protection is provided for us free of charge. Often symbolized by the CAVE the womb is a sanctuary, the perfect hiding place.

Did you know that the Sanskrit word for any temple or sanctuary was garbha-grha meaning “womb”? A word that sounds a lot like the first Greek goddess, Gaia.

According to the myth, Gaia (also known as Mother Earth) created herself out of primordial chaos. From her fertile womb all life sprang, and unto her all living things must return after their allotted span of life is over.

"We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion. Many refuse to admit it: I feel a mystery exists. There are certain times, when, as on the whisper of the wind, there comes a clear and quiet realization that there is indeed a presence in the world, a nonhuman entity that is not necessarily inhuman." -Ansel Adams

In closing, the profession of motherhood is all about influence. You and I have an incredible opportunity to influence the next generation by what we do as a mothers every day. This is why intentionality is so important during the years that we raise our family. Be intentional about your own healing from life’s hurts. Be intentional about investing in your marriage. Be intentional about parenting. Be intentional about homemaking, intentionality fosters influence and influence is seed that remains long after we’re gone. We cannot underestimate the power of mother love, the value of home, and the significance our intentional compassionate presence in the home.

Here is an interesting fact:

According to the University of British Colombia, for the human lineage to survive to today, a female must have a fertile daughter, who in turn has a daughter over 8,000 generations. To that, I say, do not attempt to quantify the unquantifiable importance of mother’s. Cheers to the womb!

*must watch* Fascinating video on experiments of love. Conducted on monkeys, by pioneering psychologist, Dr. Harlow. Heads up! This is tough to watch on an empty stomach.


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