By appointment, Monday-Thursday

The First Annual Ruegg Brothers Fishing Trip: Nature vs. Nurture

The world of psychology has enjoyed a long, open debate regarding the effects of nature (our genetics) versus the effects of nurture (learned or environmental influences) on personality and behaviors. As four brothers raised in the same household, born to the same set of parents, we share DNA as well as many learned traits. When we get together, four adults from separate households, our shared idiosyncrasies make us laugh.

I encourage my clients to know and embrace their family traits and history. The more we learn about our families, the more we know about ourselves. Even though, for some, this may be a painful process, there are lessons to be learned. One family may be loud and highly emotive where another may be silent and stoic. Anxiety and depression may be shared in families just as the propensity for height and weight.  The acceptance of inherited attributes, equips one with a valuable resource to face family-specific challenges.

The oldest of four boys and the only one to have moved away from of our home town, Waynesburg, Ohio, I look forward to time spent with my brothers. It is a special event. This past Christmas, we sat around the kitchen table at brother Rusty’s and brainstormed . . . “Let’s do a brother trip this winter.”


“Why don’t we go somewhere warm?”

The plan was hatched. Rick, Roger, Ron, and Rusty Ruegg would meet in Ft. Lauderdale, drive south in a rented truck to Big Pine Key for four days of mid-winter sunshine and fishing. We booked a hotel room, a boat, and a local fisherman to act as guide. Everyone was excited.

This was last week. Last week when record cold temperatures hit The Keys and high winds wreaked havoc on fishing boats. We tried fishing–once. We nearly froze as we headed back, laughing that our bait was larger than the fish we caught. All was not lost. Even bad weather could not ruin the sharing of four brothers with a sixteen-year age span and a wealth of shared history between them.

Even though my brothers and I are unique individuals, the four of us could be a case study for inherited, male-pattern baldness. We walk and talk alike, and share a body type, noticeable even from a distance. Once, when three of us were walking in a parking lot, a guy drove by and rolled down his car window, “You guys aren’t brothers, by any chance, are ya?”

What really makes us chuckle is when we sit around and talk shop. It’s always a source of amazement to the Ruegg Brothers when we share stories about how we operate. We each own a small business. And we share the “blessing/curse” of the innate ability to see what needs to be accomplished, the spacial gift for organizing a plan, and the inexhaustible energy to see the plan to fruition. Our plan, that is. The problem arises when we project our “abilities” onto co-workers. Be it family or employees, shop work or home landscaping, “No one can do it like a Ruegg.” It’s our way . . . or our way! It’s a problem and we all have it.

Our parents were blessed with knowing the “right” way to do just about everything. Our dad had a reputation for having the straightest lawnmower lines in all of Carroll County. My mom vowed, “You boys are going to learn to clean a house as good as anybody!” And she made sure that happened. We love to joke about our parents’ habitual behaviors until someone points out how often each of us display identical patterns.

So we laughed at ourselves when we set out early Monday morning for our drive to the airport. Not one of us would consider hitting the road without cleaning the windshield and the mirrors of a vehicle. Not possible. And yes, Mom, we left the hotel room just like we found it.

No definitive answer has been reached to the nature/nurture question. Research has been published favoring the influence of either camp.  Some consider it a non-issue at this point. What is important to know, however, is that we never grow away from our past. Our family of origin, the influences of both nature and nurture, positive or negative, are vital to knowing oneself and eventually self-acceptance. Growth.

As for the First Annual Ruegg Brothers Fishing Trip, the most important thing was enjoying time spent together. Laughing and sharing stories with those who “get it.” And, finally, hoping for some real fishing weather in the years to come.

Quotation for the week:

“Genetics do play a role in how you consciously or subconsciously manifest your true self.” ~Ben Harper


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