The Seibel Family -- Life is an Adventure!!

Home                     Family History             Contact Us

July 16, 2016

Nature or Nurture - Family Behavior and Genetics


Families are products not only of their ancestors but of their time period, behaviors, location, friendships and much more. In comparison names, dates, and places are easy to trace but behavioral traits can be either genetics or environment and are not usually documented by any kind of documentation other than health records, if available. How many times when speaking about a relative have you heard "Oh, that's just the [Surname] in them coming out" or "that's just like the [Surname's]"? Even though the behavior may be shown by many people all over the world, you know that one particular family acts or reacts in a certain way. Did they learn the behavior by just mirroring a parents' behavior?

In researching one line of my family, a renowned researcher published in his book the family traits not just the physical attributes but the behavioral ones as well. This, he felt, was to give a better portrait of the family. Among those he noted were: care of life and health; cautious and admired prudence over heroic rashness. Loved food and drink, apt to drink a little of the strong stuff now and then but had a contempt for drunkenness. A member of the family was economical, thrifty, wasn’t usually a moneymaker and liked to hold on to his property. They weren’t usually mechanically inclined but rather leaned more to the schoolmaster they descended from. They loved security and personal independence. They showed respect for other people’s rights but were slow to forgive any injury done to them. They were shy and reserved. When someone was “tripped up” by their own misdeeds they were unsympathetic, but could be quite the reverse if it was genuine trouble. The family was well-read and held strong opinions and could be quite obstinate. They were moral enthusiasts and intelligent.

Characteristics are not all-inclusive of just one family, but can go across all lines of a family. There is a discussion about people marrying those who are most like them so the same characteristics can be seen in many lines of a family. There is also a discussion among scientists that behavior is influenced by genes, but no behavior is determined by genes.

When compiling information on individuals in the family, I use well-documented research for names, dates, locations, professions, property, probate, etc. But I try to locate family folklore and stories to provide a more complete “personality” of the person. Whether the story is a good one or a bad one, knowing more than just “facts” makes the ancestor more alive and personable. I just make sure that I give credit to the source of the story.

Now cousin Tom knows why he is compared to G-g-g-grandpa Jim. Stories makes the family “portrait” more complete.

© 2016 The Seibel Family