Mandatory Maturity for the Immature
I don’t know how it works in your household, but there’s not a whole lot of maturity to spare in our home. On the one hand, clinical professors of psychiatry report that brain development is often not complete until age 25-30. On the other hand, kids are being asked to decide what they want to do with the rest of their life by the time they turn 18.
Slow down. Hurry up.
Adolescence signals a time between puberty and adulthood. An invented idea, many would say, since it never existed long ago. Young teens were considered semi-adults in Colonial times, able to reside away from the immediate family, often serving in an apprenticeship as a transitional stepping-stone to full independent living. In Shakespeare’s 16th century tale of Romeo and Juliet, it’s conjectured that the couple may have been prepubescent 13-year-olds, yet considered to be adults by society.
In our time, teens may set their sights on earning their first paycheck and learning to drive. Yet, news reports inform us that more and more late 20-somethings are residing in parents’ basements, playing video games, while supposedly looking for work. What happened to shortcircuit the process?
Our family, formed by adoption, feels the yin and yang, the pull between immaturity and maturity, perhaps more so than the average family. The children in many ways missed out on a carefree childhood, having to worry about things like finding food and staying safe.
Alternately, their orphanage existence, while giving some sense of chores, offered none of the responsibility normally associated with family life. In the same way, possessions in the dyetsky dom could be lost, smashed, or stolen, because they were not true personal belongings. Nothing much was expected of them.
Fast-forward to life with a new family, and a new home, in a new land. How could we help the children grow in their understanding of maturity?
Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Most of them came home as preteens, a couple had never really been to school, and a couple were far behind in what little schooling they had. We had to pick up the pace in academics, while acquiring English, and while learning some real life skills that would demonstrate any modest level of maturity.
How to control the emotions. How to plan ahead. How to pick up after oneself. How to listen and obey. How to study and remember material the next day. How to offer to help. How to show empathy for others. How to display manners and grace. How to move from being a blank slate to a beautiful work of art. How to attempt something and not be afraid of failure at first. How to like oneself and feel comfortable in one’s own skin. How to explore future purposes and professions.
Pretty heady stuff if you couldn’t even remember to brush your teeth without being told.
Pretty overwhelming stuff.
What does maturity look like in your house?
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