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Faye Flam

You’re Turning Into Your Parents

At least you have some sense of what’s coming. Maybe it’s not too late to swerve.

It’s not all bad; maybe you inherited perfect pitch.

It’s not all bad; maybe you inherited perfect pitch.

Photographer: Evans/Three Lions, via Getty Images

With so many family gatherings this time of year, many of us notice that our siblings are turning into our parents, and some of our partners’ and friends’ kids are turning into their parents. That’s no illusion. As scientists have learned from “nature versus nurture” studies on twins and adoptees, humans become more like our biological parents and other family members as we get older.

This is a little scary. It’s not that we don’t love the anxious relative who can’t enjoy a holiday dinner because her stuffing wasn’t perfect, or the impulsive one who can’t stop at three glasses of eggnog even though he will regret it. It’s just unnerving to realize they are reflections of the selves we might become.