The orchid vs. dandelion child

I happened, this week, upon one of the most beautiful allegories to the development of a child’s mind that I have ever heard.

It is the idea that there are two types of children resulting in 3 types of final outcomes.

The types of children are named: “The Orchid Child” and “The Dandelion Child”.

Like the flower it references, the Dandelion Child can be born in either a nurturing home or a neglectful home. Either way, they will persevere just as dandelions do through many climates and adverse conditions. This is outcome 1.

The Orchid Child provides the other 2 outcomes. If born into a neglectful family, Orchid Children are far more likely to fall into abusive, self destructive behaviors. Just as an orchid will when not planted in the fairest of pastures. When born into a loving and nurturing family however, Orchid Children blossom into beautiful human beings, flourishing well beyond the average.

The article even goes onto explain that these effects are linked to a single gene: CHRM2. The gene has to do with hormone receptors that govern reward.

Again, the sciences provide us with direction for policy. It is not just children in neglectful homes to whom we should provide more resources. It is those children that present early on that they are effected by these unfortunate circumstances.


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