When There's No Family Resemblance
Understanding your child's genes
Mothers often wish for a son to look just like his father, while fathers may wish for a daughter to resemble her mother. It often happens that a child is an obvious mixture of both parents, but in some families, this is just not the case.
“He really does look like his daddy,” is a phrase Annice Larkin from Tuscon, Arizona, is used to hearing. Her son, Gabriel, is the splitting image of his father, David. When Annice found out she was pregnant with a boy she thought it only right he should look like his father, but she has since had a change of heart. “As soon as Gabriel was born he was the splitting image of my husband. His hair, his eyes and mouth were a miniature carbon copy. Our families, who were at the hospital, noticed right away and that was the start of ‘oh, he looks just like his daddy.’”
Gabriel is now seven months old, and everywhere the Larkin family goes—the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or even a frequently-visited family member’s house – they hear the same phrase. For Annice, it is beginning to wear a bit thin.
“It really does get a little redundant after a while. As much as I love the fact that my son looks like his father, I wish there were a part of him that looks like me!” says Annice. “After all, I was the one who gained 72 pounds and carried him around for 40 weeks. Now I’ve just learned to smile and nod every time a person mentions the resemblance, as if it’s the first time anyone has ever noticed.”
Nadine Lahana has the same problem – only she experiences it twofold. Her children Luka (4) and Mila (10 months) both take after their father, Brendan. While Nadine is naturally blond with green eyes, Brendan is of Greek descent and has olive skin with dark hair and eyes, just like their kids.
But Nadine doesn’t just “grin and bear it” like Annice does. Instead, she has taken things one step further and has started to dye her hair dark brown, because as she says, “at least I look like my children’s mommy now.”
It’s in the Genes
So what determines what we – and therefore our children – look like? The answer to this question is our genes. Genes are carried on chromosomes, and in humans there are 23 different chromosomes, each of them carrying thousands of genes. While chromosomes actually come in pairs (so there are 46 chromosomes in virtually every cell in the body), only the red blood cells, sperm, and eggs have just one copy of each chromosome.
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