When I was young there were things about my dad that I couldn’t understand. I used to think, “Why does he do that?” Now that I am the age my father was when I had those thoughts I find myself now doing the exact same things he did. Now I’m asking, “Did I just do that thing my father used to do?!”
We’ve heard it, either about us or around us, “she’s the spitting image of you,” “just like Dad,” or “he has his father’s build.” But what do we truly inherit from our parents’ DNA? Biologically, we’re half mom and half dad, but what about our DNA is passed on to our children? What effect can our behaviors have on these genes? Here are 5 fascinating things to know about the DNA you pass on to your children.
1. The Obvious
The most obvious indicator of genetics is seen. Our height, skin color, hair color, eye color, and general build closely resemble our parents. Not only does our parents’ DNA influence our appearance, but the DNA of our grandparents, aunts, and uncles is visibly recognizable too. Inherited traits cause the curl in your hair and the crick in your nose.
What happens when your face sees the sun? Do you sneeze? Once? Twice? Even three times? This is called a photonic sneeze reflex and it is passed on through your genes. Our general health and well-being are significantly environmentally influenced, but there are specific genetic codes that influence our biology. Risks of obesity, one’s ability to easily gain weight, high blood pressure, and allergies are all notable health traits passed along through our DNA.
Intelligence is a tricky trait to pin down. While it’s true that a family’s IQ is typically within a range of fifteen points, the genetic likelihood of being the “smart kid” can’t be exact. Sixty percent of our ability to learn comes from our parents. This, with our learning environment and nutrition, is highly influential in our potential to learn.
Our extraversion, psychological interests, openness to new experience, and conscientiousness are all linked to our DNA. Do you have extroverted parents? You’re more likely to have that tendency not only because of your environment, but because extroversion is inherited. Personality and emotionalism are genetic effects that can profoundly influence our social lives.
How we respond to stressful situations or feelings is also biologically correlated. Our biological response of fight-or-flight can be different for different individuals. Some of us are more open to new experiences; we seek out more exciting adventures.
5. Special Talents
Are exceptionally musical parents more likely to have musical children? If you’re a runner, will your kids be runners too? Our genetics do have some influence over our talents and abilities. Genetic tendency for high hand-eye-coordination and heightened perception for rhythm and pitch have all been proven. But if the DNA to be a natural musician or athlete is there, and the action is never taught or harnessed, these genetic abilities are virtually useless.
Most importantly, genes don’t dictate our existence. Our fate isn’t determined by our families. Living a healthy lifestyle, eating well, exercising, managing stress, and loving others affects your body and your DNA in a big way. We can use our genetic tendencies to be great, and we can mold our behavior to change our genetics. Genes can be turned on and off by experiences and environment. This gives us hope for a better future.Living a healthy lifestyle and loving others affects your body and your DNA in a big way. Click To Tweet
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you think we are similar?”