From Whence This Inheritance

I have a question for y’all. Lain does not look overwhelmingly like Clancy or myself yet. She has my eyes, Clancy’s mouth, and we figure it’s all going to come down to the nose. Temperamentally, she appears to be taking a bit more after Clancy. At least so far, to the extent that you can tell such things from an infant.

I take after my mother, both in looks and in temperament. It’s mostly in the facial shape and the nose. My eyes, hair, and lips I got from my father, but the shape overwhelms everything else. Even a woman who had a stroke and was half-oblivious to the world immediately identified me as my mother’s son (long story). And temperamentally, Mom is a writer, has a real internal stubborn streak, an innately hot temper, loves to tell stories, was never big on school (though did well). It’s an odd sort of bond that actually prevents us from bonding because we find ourselves spinning in the same direction and feeding off one another in some not-great ways. (I love Mom, Mom loves me. That’s not the issue. We understand one another better, I think, than anyone else on the planet.)

Clancy takes after her father in a pretty big way. Again, in looks and temperament.

It’s been an interesting thing that I have noticed, actually. If a child takes after one parent in appearance, he or she is more likely to also take after that parent in temperament. It also seems like most people I know are more likely to take after the opposite-sex parent. But obviously this is often not the case. (My brother takes after my father in looks and temperament, one of Clancy’s sister takes more after her mother in looks while in appearance both sisters are more middling than she is.)

So my question, dear readers, is which parent you take after (if one more than the other, “both equally” is an acceptable answer). And have you generally noticed a correlation between which parent someone takes after visually and which one they take after temperamentally?

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. Well, I take after my Dad in a lot of ways and of the three sons I look like him the most.

    But my oldest daughter definitely takes after me both in appearance and temperament. (To the consternation of my wife, I might add.) And I’m pretty sure the youngest is going to take after her side of the family more.

    But seriously, I’ve always had a hard time at seeing family resemblances in babies.

  2. I’m an interesting case in that I’m an adopted child.
    I’ve met my birth parents, though, and it’s pretty clear I favor my birth mother in both appearance and personality. That’s not to say there aren’t some clear connections to my father, but they definitely favor my mother.
    I’m convinced the likenesses are actually rather obvious to me (and my wife) precisely because I grew up with a different set of parents and being confronted by someone that looked like me and shared a lot of personality with me was a bit shocking.

  3. I am the most like my dad and he is the hardest on me. Interestingly this means I can get along with my mom pretty well. Most of the time.

  4. I am most like my dad in looks. Temperement-wise, I am also more like him than my mom. But overall, some things may have skipped a generation as neither of them are as strongly INTP as I am

  5. I look like my dad and more like him in temperament then my mom.

    This made me think of little incident that happened many years ago with my nephew. The First Wife and i ended up raising our nephew and niece for a few years. I quickly became a father figure to my 4 year old nephew. Given that i was only 24 or so at the time there was a lot of learning involved. One day i was walking with my nephew Todd in the mall while holding his hand. As many of us do i was walking while looking off to one side at the stores while using my peripheral vision to make sure i didn’t walk into something. Well Todd had learned how to do this too, except he hadn’t learned about that peripheral vision thing so he walked straight into a post. After soothing him i figured out i needed to pay attention to the behaviour i was modelling. An unfortunate number of stories about Todd relate to him hitting his head.

  6. When they were small, we once hiked in the White Mountains to one of the AMC huts, Madison Hut, in the northern end of the Presidential Range. Round about dinner time, the last of the guests for the night arrived, an elderly couple who’d had some trouble, she couldn’t carry her pack up the steep bits, so he’d done all of that three times; up with one pack, back down, and up once again to fetch the other. This is really rough terrain, ancient mountain scrapped to the bone by glacier, not padded with thick layers of volcanic ash. He only has one arm. He was exhausted. Totally bushed.

    He sat in a corner by himself, nursing a bottle of water, whole people gathered around to hear her tell their story; everyone but my sweetie, he’d left me with the kids at the lodge and was off having some alpine-zone spiritual renewal, and he hadn’t yet met the couple. The elderly woman was wearing a sweatshirt from my sweetie’s hometown, so I asked if that’s where they were from. It was. Come to find out, they were some of my in-law’s best friends.

    She looked at our kids a minute, and then took them over to where her husband rested “Who are these children?” she asked him.

    He stared at them for about ten minutes, and then said, “They’ve got zic______ written all over their faces.”

    Nobody would ever claim they’ve got my family sitting strongly in their bones, on their faces. But they’ve got my place seared into their blood.

  7. I have my father’s face other than my nose, which came from my mother’s father. I have my mother’s hair (so far), which obviously I style differently than she does so as to conform to socially-commonplace gender norms. Every one of my ancestors had crap eyes, apparently; they all wear, or wore, strong glasses and were it not for the modern materials glasses are made out of these days, mine would be so thick now in my early forties that if they were made out of glass, they’d affect my balance when I walk.

    My father’s father left me a rather odd legacy that I can only assume is genetic in origin: a split in the toenail on my second toe. He had the same split on his toe. I’ve never had an injury to that toe but one day I was looking at my feet in the shower and there it was, my grandfather’s toe. Superficial but annoying.

    There’s some darker stuff in my genetic heritage, too, which is a big part of why I have so assiduously resisted smoking despite my experiments with tobacco yielding substantial pleasure.

    But the question was more superficial than that. Yes, I can see elements of my parents and their parents and even some of their parents that I met when I was younger — they all look back at me through the mirror.

  8. I look like no one else in my family, except one of my half-second cousins. I’d guess we both take after our shared great-grandfather. In everything else, I definitely take after my father, whom I’m going to brag on a little bit.

    In another thread, I referred to a story by Isaac Asimov, who was a brilliant man: a PhD in Biochemistry, one of the world’s great science writers, someone who could (and did) master almost anything and was then able to explain it in simple language. One of the few things he was merely good at was math. In one of his essays he wrote enviously about the Math Team at Brooklyn Boys High, how talented they were and how badly he wanted to be one of them. But he never made it.

    Unlike my Dad.

  9. You know, it’s really hard to say – I’m tempted to say I take after my aunts on both sides.

    But whomever we’ve inherited, my 3 sibs and I are a lot alike. Temperamentally and phenotypically, much more alike than we are different.

  10. I like exactly like my father did. I am unmistakeably his child.

    Temperamentally, I am very much a blend of both of them. I can recognize the origin of pretty much all of my personality quirks, for good or ill, in one or the other.

  11. I take after my mom in looks–I once put on a woman’s wig and freaked out at how much I looked like her. But I am vastly more like my dad in temperament.

  12. I do not much look like either parent. I have been told I bear a striking resemblance to my maternal grandfather. What is very odd is that this goes beyond mere physical features, but even some of my intellectual interests as well as the precise manner that we fidget. I doubt this is due to mimicry because I lived in the US and he resided in Egypt, so I only say him once every two years or so.

  13. I look more like my mother, but in temperament I’m more like my father. Mom is a strong J (like Jason is) but I’m a strong P, and I’m sure Dad would test the same if he ever took the Myers-Briggs. The way my mind is structured–that is, the part of my intellect that feels more innate than learned–is a definite blend of both of my parents.

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