In the age of genetic exploration, one often hears the concern of parents and non-parents alike that whatever mental health issues the individual may be struggling with
(particularly with the more acute illnesses) will be invariably passed on to the offspring. As the article points out, for some people this is enough of a reason to foreclose on the idea of having children entirely. This concern is understandable particularly given the preponderance of studies that link genetics to a large number of illness and even personality characteristics. It is important to note, however, that the majority of these studies speak to a genetic predisposition, or the underlying risk of developing a certain disorder, and not the inevitability of getting the disorder. Various environmental factors, such as parenting skills, the nature of the parental relationship and resource availability, just to name a few, play a huge role on whether or not an individual will develop a disorder, even when they may have a genetic predisposition for the disorder.
Additionally, the way that a parent handles his or her own mental health problems, or any adverse event for that matter, can be invaluable on how the child views themselves and the world. Witnessing resiliency, determination and self-care in their parents may be a great protective factor, and lesson for the child struggling with adversity. While an individual's personality and subsequent functioning appear to be the result of a mixture of both genetic and environmental factors, it is important to remember that parents are the child's first guides to this world, and the way that they choose to present the various positive and negative aspects of this world, will have an indelible impact on the child interpretation and perspective of the world at large.