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Determining Role of Parental Genes in How “Intelligent” the Child will be in Future

Development of the child incorporates intellectual, social, language, physical and many other areas. Many scientists, experts have conducted research, studies on the puzzling question of “nature versus nurture debate”. Are we the result of nature (i.e., our genetic background) or nurture (i.e., our environment) or both? But today, most researchers agree that child development involves a complex interaction of both nature and nurture. So, it can be clearly inferred that genetic influences have an enormous impact on how a child develops.

Genetics and Environment

However, it is very important to always remember that genetics is just one piece of the complex puzzle that makes up a child’s personality and life. Environmental variables including culture, parenting, social relationships and education also play a vital role. Like most aspects of human behavior and human cognition, intelligence is a complex trait that is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors.

Linda S. Gottfredson, PhD, (a professor of education at the University of Delaware in Newark), describes intelligence as “the general ability to process information, which promotes reasoning, understanding, learning, and problem-solving which affects many parts of a human’s everyday behaviors”. Most definitions of intelligence generally include the ability to learn from experiences and adapt to changing environments. The elements of intelligence include the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, and understand complex ideas. 


Apart from the contribution of environmental factors to the Intelligence of the child, there is a wide contribution of genetic factors in developing a child’s IQ. It has also been found in a recent study by Kong and colleagues that even those parental genes which are not passed on to children can have major impacts on child’s development, health and educational attainment. 

There has been much research and studies conducted to study the influence of genes on intelligence. Many of these studies have mainly focused on differences and similarities in IQ within the families, particularly looking at twins as well as adopted children. These studies suggest that genetic factors underlie about 50 percent of the difference in intelligence among individuals and were unable to conclusively identify any genes that have major roles in differences in intelligence. It is likely that a majority of genes are involved, each of which only makes a small contribution to a person’s intelligence.

One of the most intriguing questions that always comes up while raising a child is most definitely, “who has the child taken on, the Mumma or the Dad?” From their facial features to their hair, to their height, to 

their habits, it is quite likely that we find ourselves linking back their traits to one of the parents.

However, there are many studies which have proved that intelligence is that one particular trait which is inherited from the maternal side! There is a lot of scientific backing to this claim which exists to clear all the confusion as this research shows that the X chromosome, which is the prime female chromosome, can be linked to the intelligence gene and women having twice the number of X chromosomes are more likely to pass on the intelligence genes onto their children. It is the genetics and heredity that a child inherits from the mom’s side which helps in determining how brainy or smart a child is, will become overtime with other factors acting as a catalyst.

This claim is also supported by science which says that intelligence is a “conditioned” gene, which usually works when they are transmitted from the mother. Conditioned genes and other cognitive genes, when they come from a father’s side, get subdued and deactivated. Mother being the primary caregiver for the child and being the first, foremost source of providing love, care and nurturance to the child helps in making the child smart. It plays a major role in modulating the child’s brain during the critical developmental stage. But these findings do not mean that fathers don’t influence a child’s intelligence, as intelligence is a very broad and complex concept which is influenced by a lot of factors.


According to scientific findings, most of our acquired intelligence (40-60%) is definitely a hereditary thing but the rest is majorly determined by many other environmental factors including the kind of emotional connect and bond a child has with the parents. Studies have proven that having an emotionally active parents and not just mom influences a child’s intellect, cognitive intelligence, rational thinking and their overall personality. Hence, having a healthy home environment and a healthy positive relationship with the child helps in nurturing the intellectual growth of the child apart from the role the genetics and inheritance has to play!

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