Explaining about genes to a child

(10 Posts)

Prompted by another thread I thought I would ask...

'How can I explain about genes to my young son, please?'

I had a conversation with my son today about genes, not sure how it all started. He is 3! Nearly 4.

I don't know where he gets his colouring from (so I need to find that out once letterbox starts). I think we just started talking and the words were out of my mouth before I totally thought about it.

I feel it is totally right to talk about stuff and for him to feel peaceful with discussing it if he wants to.

I hope he feels OK and wonder if anyone else has talked about facial features, colouring etc with an adopted child, at all, please?

My lovely son does share some colouring with family members and ironically, me, dd and he share a feature too! So I did turn it into a conversation about genes but also said even if he and dd grew in different tummies some things were similar anyway!

DS did not seem distressed at all and as he has only been home a few weeks, of course, it is no surprise to him!

Any advice would be most welcome, please!

Thank you.

Can anyone else say if they have ever pointed out to their child stuff like, your eyes are the same colour as your sister/me/your dad etc even though the children came from different birth parents and your child is adopted? I wonder could this be misleading? Even if it is true?

Sorry if that last bit sounded confusing confused!!... * pointed out to their child stuff like, your eyes are the same colour as your sister/me/your dad etc even though the children came from different birth parents and your child is adopted?*

Our dd is our birth child, our ds joined the family through adoption. We all have slightly different colouring but in our family we all (except DH and I) share various features so it might be quite possible for people to see similarities between either one of us and our children. We never planned it, of course!

I looked at ds the other day, running in a slightly uncoordinated way, and I was reminded of my late father! It's all quite weird and lovely! smile

Buster51 Thu 05-Jun-14 06:32:59

We say stuff all of the time like you have blue eyes like daddy, freckles like Nan! Personality wise he is a lot like me (strangely) when I was a child so my nan etc often end up saying you're just like your mum! He eats like DH!

We can't help it, it just comes out, the whole family do it. But we do still have chats about birth mummy etc & it'll make sense to him as he gets older. We are a very close family & are forever comparing nieces with brothers etc so I think we all just do it so naturally, I think he just feels part of it all in us doing it to be honest.

Sorry I've just woke up! I hope that makes sense smile

Buster51 Thu 05-Jun-14 06:34:11

Ps. Italian I hope you have had some sleep!

kmarie100 Thu 05-Jun-14 08:52:14

Hi italian, hope things are going well.
Yes to help dd feel part of the family we talk about similarities. Colour of eyes/hair. She loves doing this and will often stare at my eyes looking for their colour to compaire with hers. She's only two so genes haven't been mentioned although we have talked about her growing in her birth mummy's tummy. Something to think about next time the subject comes up.
I find it more difficult when a stranger points out her differences...like "is'nt her hair blonde". I tend to just say yes it is or yes so was mine when I was younger.

64x32x24 Thu 05-Jun-14 09:17:54

There are obviously lots of similarities between everyone. And lots of little differences, too - even if we are genetically related.

I think pointing out similarities, to the child, is not misleading (unless you add '... because we have the same genes' which would be not exactly untrue, but misleading. (If you and DS both have a blue eyes, it IS because you have the same genes - just not because he inherited those same genes from you. We share our genes with lots of people, not just those we are related to! The same genes that make his eyes blue, make yours blue too.)

With mannerisms you can easily say 'look, you have the same way of bending your head to the left ever so slightly when asking a question, as daddy has! This is because we are all the same family' which is true - the mannerism will be 'learned' from growing up in the family. Not right now yet but in a few years time.

Pointing out similarities is part of claiming each other as family. I'm sure it's positive!
Yourself 'seeing' similarities: Of course they are there, but equally there will be differences. But yourself 'seeing' the similarities rather than focusing on the differences, surely is part of the process of you internally claiming him as part of your family!

Kewcumber Thu 05-Jun-14 11:00:32

I'm about as disimilar to DS as is possible to be so we don;t talk much about who he looks like - because he doesn't! He really doesn't understand genes and he's a pretty switched on 8 year old so I suspect you are wasting your time trying to explain it to him, Does your DD understand?

We do talk about being part of a family and how you speak is one of the things which people notice most.

We had an interesting conversation a few months ago because he hates people thinking he is Chinese. I asked him is people thought that for long after first meeting him and he said no. We discussed how its because he sounds English and he speaks how our family speak because that was who he learnt it from.

I'm not sure if any of that is helpful as we certainly don;t try to pretend he looks in any way like me when he doesn't!

LastingLight Thu 05-Jun-14 13:23:51

DD loves talking about the ways in which she, DH and I are similar - we're all good at maths, we're all rubbish at running and she and I are both good at music. Evil bio granny introduced her to the concept of genes, I think as a way of trying to convince DD she (granny) is "special" compared to the other grandparents. However DD is 12 already and understands that certain traits are genetic, I think your DS are still too young to understand it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't drop it into conversations.

KristinaM Thu 05-Jun-14 14:35:54

Our adopted teenager ( who studies sciece and is well aware that she's not biologically related ) will often comment on similarities

Eg I'm musical like my cousin
I don't like fish like you mum

Looking for similarities is only natural -we laugh when we show our friend a new dress and she exclaims " I nearly bought that last week " . We choose friends who have smilar hobbies, or philosophical or religious beliefs or life experiences . These things help us bond. We comment on how a long married couple become more like each other as the years go by .

It's not about biology, it's about affinity . Isn't that why we tell our children to choose their friends wisely, because you become like the people you spend time with .

Not saying you shouldn't discuss genes with DS BTW, he might have a particular interest in science. There are lots of good book with pictures he might enjoy

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