The Surprising Struggle for Maturity

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One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is not only the earned trust and respect of becoming a young adult, but a growing understanding of how they can learn from Jesus directly.

Maturity takes time.

Watching as our kids grow up right in front of our eyes is one of the most profoundly wonderful and painful experiences a parent can ever have. It’s especially true when your kids step from the dependence of their junior high years into the new and expanding world of high school.

In the early years, our kids still really need us. As pre-teens and young teens, they may be growing an attitude to match their body changes. But after all the bluster, they still can’t drive, can’t really do stuff or buy things without our permission or the needed cash “donated” for their purchases or activities. In short, they are dependent on our regular interaction and support to pursue their own wants and desires.

As they grow and gain some normal young adult confidence and experience, they transition rapidly; once they get that driver’s license and a sudden expanded menu of social items to pick from… in which we (the parents) are no longer essential for their participation. Often, they also get a part-time job and build their own nest eggs. With the accumulation of their own savings and initial financial resources, they further distance us from the equation. We slowly lose our immediate influence on their daily activities and choices as they gain greater independence. As it should be.

Herein lies the challenge

It’s so hard to find the balance between freedom and reasonable accountability for our maturing young-adults. The process, it seems, is an elusive and ever shifting endeavor for any parent to endure. There is a surprising struggle that occurs from junior high up until the college years in which we watch our kids morph into adults, and the resultant often awkward and painful struggle for maturity is a vital one. We want to really offer them the chance to “choose," to discover some of the truths we’ve taught them for themselves, but we want to protect them in the process.

It’s a nerve rattling experience to watch your sixteen-year-old drive off for the first time alone to a home football game, all the while anxiously considering sneaking out to “tail” them, just to be sure they come back safe (not saying I ever did that).

But seriously, I’m learning one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is not only the earned trust  and respect of becoming a young adult, but a growing understanding of how they can actually learn from Jesus directly. To re-direct them from just following us or modeling our behaviors to seek out answers on their own. To grow independent spiritually like they are financially and socially. And to help them begin to value their own times of personal prayer and reading in the pursuit of answering life’s questions.

If we teach them how to lay a firm foundation to launch from on their own spiritual journey, we will have helped them immensely in finding their identity and purpose as being more than just our kids. Watching proudly as they learn to grow beyond just the goal of gaining our “approval” in their life choices, but of “pleasing” their heavenly father as well. Then, I believe, we will have served them well. Of course we can expect to see them have a few life stumbles and even a fall along the way. But in the end, I believe by the grace of God, they will get up and stay up and become exactly who God created them to be, maybe even despite of us…

Maturity is a psychological term used to indicate how a person responds to the circumstances or environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive, and is not determined by one’s age. Maturity also encompasses being aware of the correct time and place to behave and knowing when to act appropriately, according to the situation and the culture of the society one lives in.

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