If your parents happen to be extremely good at something that you are not, you may laugh and invoke the old maxim, Talent skips a generation. It sounds like a perfect explanation, one that has been used for centuries. But is it really true?
The saying has become an idiom that many cite without challenging its validity. If it were indeed true, and if our parents happen to be famous and capable, should we then just quit trying all together and resign ourselves to being part of the skipped generation?
Scientists and medical experts have spent years studying and analyzing genetic intelligence and human IQ, trying to understand how and why some people are smarter or better at certain things than others. Inquisitive people have turned to their own family lines searching for clues without getting consistent answers. Their unsatisfied curiosity has even spilled out onto the Internet with Google reporting more than 13 million hits for this age-old saying. After all, we all want to be among the special and talented people. They rank high in our society, make more money, and are more respected. And, we wonder whether or not we happen to be handicapped, or destined for lives of success and fame even before we were born.
We have solved many equally, if not more, challenging issues before. We can send people to the moon, make ships several city blocks long and map out the genetics of various life forms. Yet, we have a hard time determining why Johnny is not the basketball player his father is, or why Kelly doesn’t have her mother’s eye for art. We could always turn to molecular biologists or evolutionary scientists for plausible explanations, but is it possible that we’re looking for answers in the wrong places?
There might be a simpler explanation. Talented parents, for an example, often have more education and hold important jobs. They tend to be in high demand and have less time for their children. With hectic working schedules and lots of traveling, their kids are often left to be raised by nannies, governesses or relatives, and are less connected with their parents’ talent.
Secondly, talented parents tend to have higher standards for their children and are often more critical. As a result, their children may feel they’re not able to live up to their parents’ expectations, or are afraid to compete with their successful parents. Some children may also rebel against their parents’ criticism and do the opposite of what their parents want.
Whatever the reasons may be for talent sometimes skipping a generation, remember that talent simply means someone is good at something.
Discovering what you are good at is essential to a happy and successful life. And, what you’re good at may have nothing to do with what your parents or siblings are good at. So don’t readily compare yourself with the others around you. Parents: Don’t forget to encourage your children to explore many areas of interest. Encouragement always works better than criticism.
Children: Don’t let other people’s talent intimidate you, especially your parents’. Having accomplished parents simply means that your parents have found their strengths. And, now it’s your turn to find yours. The world is your treasure map, and your talent is a pot of gold buried somewhere for you to discover. So be adventurous and open-minded.
Talent skips a generation: Myth or fact? You tell me.
You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.