Will a baby inherit his parents brains (smartness)?

Q: Does a baby inherit his mother and father's smartness?

A: Dear Parents:

Overall, it is perhaps reasonable to say that brainy parents tend to have brainy children, just as athletic parents tend to have children with athletic potential. But these features are inherited in complex ways and relate to many factors in addition to heredity. Brainy parents tend to establish a brainy environment in which brainy things are vivid and interesting, and they are eager to see that their offspring is a chip off the old block.

I think it would be more accurate to say that the average human potential is extraordinary, and that all babies are capable of miraculous smartness in an environment which provides them love and encouragement.

Psychology experiments have conclusively demonstrated that students will do amazingly better in class when the teacher has been told, in secret, that the child has been tested to be extremely smart. If we expect youngsters to be brainy, their performance somehow rises to the occasion even if we don't "let on" that we have this expectation. It's magic!

Elizabeth Berger MD

Child Psychiatrist and author of "Raising Kids with Character"


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