A scientific study that may show that great mothers can make all the difference:
[Dr. Stephen] Suomi has found that, just as with humans, rhesus monkey mothers are extremely important in shaping the attitudes and behaviors of their offspring; the first six months of bonding and nurturing are critical. Just how critical? "We did studies looking at monkeys whose genetic backgrounds suggested that they would be naturally anxious and fearful, and we cross-fostered them with mothers who were supportive and there for their kids. And those kids did beautifully when they grew up. They grew highly social. Thy got used to looking to others for help, and they ended up at the top of their dominant cycle."
So here's how it breaks down: Monkeys that were born with the more resilient genes essentially did fine with any type of mother. The monkeys that have the social anxiety gene, raised by anxious or nervous mothers, grew into anxious adult monkeys. A decent mother produces somewhat anxious adults, but a great mother can turn a baby genetically programmed to be at risk for anxiety into a healthy adult. With her nurturing, her child can overcome the genetic blueprint...Those so-called "genetically challenged" monkeys when raised by those great mothers, don't just turn out fine, they actually excel. They thrive. They become stronger, healthier, and more confident than their peers. They become superstars, if they have superstar moms.
Suomi had uncovered what a few other researchers are starting to understand. Some genes make monkeys, and humans, not more vulnerable to the environment, but more sensitive to the environment. There's a big difference. Suomi has come to see the monkeys with the anxious gene as sponges, absorbing the worst, but also the best, of what they experience. In scientific circles, the proposition of sensitivity genes is quickly gaining ground and was recently dubbed the orchid theory. Most children, according to developmental psychologist Bruce Ellis and developmental pediatrician W. Thomas Boyce, are genetically like dandelions: hardy and able to thrive in many environments. They go on to suggest that despite what we have thought for years, the non-dandelion children may in fact not be the weak ones. Based on burgeoning evidence, the researchers posit that these children should be viewed as orchids: trickier to raise but if nurtured in the right environment, able to excel beyond even their sturdier dandelion counterparts.
-Excerpt from The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
I want to say thank you to my own mom for being a superstar mother. Who raised a possibly orchid daughter into a resilient, confident, and happy adult. Happy early Mother's Day and I love you Okasan!
And if you didn't want to read the whole thing, here's a video featuring the same researcher mentioned above, Dr. Stephen Suomi
Want to read more? Here's an article from the Atlantic about it.