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Mary Kenny: Forget the genetic fatalists: we are living laboratories of the interplay... 

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Notice how carefully and conscientiously most young parents raise their children these days. The attention they pay to the child's needs! The ferrying around between swimming lessons and Spanish lessons and music lessons and sports coaching; the urgent struggles to get the kids into the best schools and the outraged resentment if a school with a fine reputation is over-subscribed.

But most of these parenting endeavours, says geneticist Robert Plomin of King's College, London, is for the birds. It doesn't much matter how you bring up your kids, because they are born with the characters they will have all their lives, formed mostly, not by parental care, but their own DNA.

The response of some older mothers (and fathers), might be: "Phew! Thank heavens for that!"Those of us who might, looking back, feel guilty that our parenting was somewhat chaotic can now say, with authority: "It's all in the DNA."

Professor Plomin's study, Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are, provides the evidence that our personalities come mostly from our genes, and whether our parents were loving and attentive to us or whether they were drunk and disorderly makes little difference to the final outcome (Though if your Ma and Pa were drunk and disorderly, you have a fair chance........

© Belfast Telegraph