He looks just like you.

“He looks just like you!” I hear that the first time most friends see my son. And truth be told, he does. He has my eyes, my face shape…but he also has my Grandmother’s nose and my Mother’s dimples. It makes me wonder what else he has from us beneath the surface. How similar are we?

If someone from your family also purchases a kit from 23andMe and elects to share their data with you a new world of comparison is revealed. On the 23andMe website you can literally compare genes.

I am currently sharing my information with my Mother and my Grandmother. Within the genome sharing section I can compare all of our genes and compare how similar we are too each other. Compared to my Mother we are 84.40% similar. Interestingly enough I am just a tad more similar to my Grandmother.

I find this scientific spell out fascinating as it pretty much validates a decades long running joke within our family that I am JUST like my Grandmother. We like the same foods, we have the same outgoing personalities, and we both have freakish needs to be early.

I have always thought that since I am like Grandmother that my kid would grow up with a personality like my Mother’s. It would only be fair that she be rewarded with a Grandson that was an adventurous, tree-climbing, barefoot walking playmate when she had to endure years of my annoying clock watching.

But when you are talking genetics, just who will my son favor?  Will he have the same endurance that Grandmother and I have or will his circadian rhythm match my Mother’s?

I am curious about who my son will become, but worry that I won’t let him just be without trying to make every quirk or trait a direct link to someone in our family. Will anything just be his? At what point does uniqueness come into play.

What if he spat into a tube and we sent it off and eventually found out that he has sky-high genetic compatibility with one of us? If he were to know that information would it change the way he grew up?

I will admit that when I was younger being told that I was just like my Grandmother was not an ideal for me. When I was a little girl my Grandmother was an overwhelming force. She was involved with so many organizations, often as the head, and commanded a lot of respect. She loved to cook but hated anyone being in the kitchen with her to slow her down. She was tough, unyielding, and bossy.

If someone told me that I was just like Grandmother I would stop what I was doing and do the opposite. If she was zagging then by Jove I would zig!

But eventually, as I grew into my own person, I was able to see where the overlaps were. Sure she was stern where I was, well, not- but at the core we both wanted to be liked and valued. And while she liked the kitchen to herself and I liked an audience, we both liked to cook and entertain.

I have been thinking a lot about at what point my son should be given this extra bit of information from our genetic family tree. It seems harmless to tell him that he has my eyes, but I worry about telling him about some of the more hard-wired genetic links. I mean at what point do you share the family’s history of depression and dementia? And by sharing do you help or hurt? Does knowing about a genetic predisposition hamper organic growth?



2 thoughts on “He looks just like you.

  1. I don’t understand. Humans share over 95% of their genome with chimpanzees, so you can’t share only 84% with your grandmother. So, it must be 84% of something else. 84% what?

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