I recently traveled to Hilton Head, South Carolina to enjoy spring break with my sister and her family. Throughout this journey I encountered many families—some with older children and others with younger ones. But regardless of their shape or size it was clear when observing their behavior that the old saying “apples don’t fall far from trees” still holds true today. Here are three examples:
I’ve often heard it said that our personalities are part natural and part learned—meaning some of our personality traits we are born with and others we acquire along the way. As I watched two twin boys in the airport I was mesmerized by their symmetry. Not only did they look alike (from the same hat on their heads to the same shoes on their feet) but their actions and mannerisms were identical. As I watched them play on their ipads I noted that they almost seemed to be involved in a synchronized dance. From the smirks on their faces, to the movement of their eyes, arms and feet—they seemed to be in perfect harmony. I can’t be sure which traits were genetic or learned, but one thing was for sure: these 10-year-old twins had come from the same family tree!
During the flight to Hilton Head, I sat close to a mother and her young precocious child. He—being about five years old—had a lot of questions about the flight and what would happen on the trip. At one point the child stated that he wanted to move to another seat. His mother responded with a, “No,” and he responded by echoing his request to “move.” The two bantered back and forth for quite a while until the exhausted mother finally responded, “Go ahead and move; I don’t want to sit by you and probably nobody else does either.” To which the child retorted, “You’re mean.” I have no idea if what I observed was typical for this parent-child relationship. However, children do imitate their parents and this child appeared to be learning to use hurtful words—an example of an apple not falling far from its tree.
My nephew is a major sports fan. He loves to watch most professional sporting events and retains a ton of knowledge regarding teams and their players. He also enjoys playing sports, especially golf, which he has gotten quite good at. His father is equally a fan and the two of them debate and discuss sports until long after the sun has set. In playing a round of golf with the two of them I noted quite a few similarities. They both hit the ground with their golf club when not pleased with their shot, they both took numerous practice swings before actually hitting the ball, and they both “strutted” off the green when scoring a par or birdie. Again watching the two of them I couldn’t help but see how their mannerisms were identical—another apple not falling far from the tree.
It is certainly hard to know what personality or temperament traits are inherited or learned, but what is known is that children mimic us—the significant adults in their lives. The environment we create and the example we provide influences the young apples on our family tree.