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Who Will Your Baby Look Like?

| 7, March 2014


It's fun to imagine what baby will be like. We talk about if he'll have green or brown eyes. Will she be a good athlete like her dad's side of the family, or musical like her mom's side?

The articles we don't read, the conversations we never have, are about the traits we fear our child getting. You know what I mean. Uncle Ernie's protruding ears. Ears that are virtual satellite dishes. Cousin Keith's penchant for gambling and drink. Your anxiety problems. Your husband's obesity gene. No gene pool is without its shallow end.

Try as we like to pretend we haven't noticed these family traits, both physical and emotional, we do. And wishful thinking aside, we are afraid, in the quiet solitary moments of contemplation, of those undesirable or unsavory characteristics being visited upon our precious innocent child.

For first-time parents these fears may be more intense, as veteran parents understand the realities. What can make the fears loom larger is the taboo of discussing such things. We have to believe our children are perfect and beautiful, and how can that be possible if they inherit Aunt Edna's Chicklet teeth smile?

Visualizing Baby Before Birth

I remember my first daughter's 3D sonogram. They captured her profile perfectly, like a little silhouette figure you'd buy at an amusement park or country store. And it was there, plain to see, she had inherited her father's nose. Now, that's not necessarily bad. I would have hated her to have gotten my crooked one. But I had hoped for a muting of our strong nose traits. Here's the thing; I've never once wished she had a different nose than the one she has. Because it's perfect on her.

When we imagine all the possible combinations of genetics, we can end up doing some sort of crazy online photo mash-up rendering in our minds of what baby will look like. The truth is, the possibilities are endless, and baby will change looks many times over the coming years.

Preparing for The Unique Individual that is Your Child

As an adoptive parent, too, I know how it is to raise a child where you don't have all kinds of presumptions about how baby is going to be just like so and so in some way. It's all a wonderful mystery, a casserole we didn't cook up, but get to enjoy all the same. It's no pressure in that way.

As a parent who gives birth, you have preconceived notions of what your child will likely turn out to be. And chances are, you will never have an inkling. Your child is more than the sum of a biological lottery. If you stop imprinting expectations on the child, you may have a more enjoyable experience discovering who the child is. Sometimes kids grow up to be exactly who we tell them they are, so be careful what you tell them from the start.

Recognizing the Sameness and Celebrating the Differences

Raising a child is always a balancing act. You want to acknowledge who your child is without pigeonholing. You want to celebrate all your child's specialness, even if you haven't the foggiest notion where that gift came from.

To do that, be honest with yourself and your mate about your fears, the little ones and the big ones. Then stop worrying. When the baby arrives, you will be struck by one unchangeable truth; your child is perfect, Uncle Ernie's ears notwithstanding.

Be careful as your child grows of saying things like, "You are just like Grandma Kate! She was always bossy, too!" or "You're no good at math, just like me." You don't want to pronounce a final judgment on a person still beginning to develop into who she will be. So forget such comments as, "You shouldn't bother going out for volleyball; we aren't athletes, we are spectators." Instead, encourage your child to be whoever he is meant to be, chooses to be, finds out he is. Some will be clearly inherited from a particular ancestor, while other traits will be true originality.

Finally, don't worry. Your baby will be perfect, just the way he or she is.

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Sophie Jul 27, 2018 08:41:37 PM ET

I want a surprise.

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