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Can Maturity Be Rushed?

September 10, 2011

Throughout time, kids have been in a hurry to grow up.  One of the reasons we home school is the tendency for private and public school’s culture to encourage kids to strive for a maturity they lack.  Nonetheless, even home schooled, my children struggle with this, but nowhere near as much as I did.

I suspect maturity is a function of brain development, far more than experience.  Certainly experience can speed it it along a little bit, but too much experience skews maturity and can produce wrong thinking, masquerading as maturity, often revealing itself as cynicism and self-absorption.

Consider maturity to be suit or dress.  Kids may aspire to wear a bigger suit or dress, but in the end they just look silly.  I believe the brain needs the stimulation of experience to develop and even mistakes to a degree.  It just seems that today, the potential mistakes kids can make are much more dangerous than ever before.

Ideally (as in a perfect world at best to be aspired to), a child is comfortable with their present maturity level (though peer pressure and envy are hard to avoid) and look to their parents to help them be wise until they are sufficiently “grown up” enough to make wise choices themselves.  After all, isn’t that the definition of maturity?  To be able to make wise and just decisions?

I recall a youngish man (late 20’s, and no, not myself) at our Seattle church.  He had made a hash of his life.  In striving as a teenager to be an adult, foolish choice followed foolish choice until his relationships were destroyed, his financial situation was near-bankrupt, and that maturity he had so desired had become a twisted, untrustworthy mockery of what it should be.  He had turned his life over to the Lord and realized he needed help.  He asked a wise man, an elder, to disciple him.  The elder made one simple “rule:” this young man would not make any decision for a single week without first running it by the elder.  He agreed, and after several bad weeks of failing to live up to his promise, he finally did.

The elder coached him during dozens of calls throughout the day, helping this young man see the motivations, options and consequences of each option.  He never forbade a choice, he just coached him in his decision-making skills.  He retrained this young man how to think.

I remember envying that relationship.  The elder was the young man’s father.  I had/have marvelous parents who would have gladly helped me think through decisions.  Ironically, my desire to be “grown up” when I was most assuredly not, prevented me from taking advantage of those relationships.  As a result, by my own fault, I have many regrets.

And yet, those regrets can be laid at the foot of immaturity.  For decades I’ve beat myself up over those regrets, knowing they had been forgiven by God, but in my pride I’ve always felt I should have known better.  So even now, I wished I had matured faster than was possible.

I think I’ve finally matured enough to begin letting those go.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2011 2:01 pm

    Great post, Rob.

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