All parents want to feel that when their child leaves home, he or she will be mature enough to succeed in life – to be able to handle whatever life hands out.
First, let’s define maturity so we can get a good look at it. What does it mean to be "mature?"
Of course, there is a difference between physical maturity and emotional maturity. Emotional maturity is the ability to make reasonable decisions and apply life skills to handle daily problems.
Let’s talk about "Life Skills." What do you mean by that?
These are a set of skills that enables you to function in today’s society: balancing a checkbook, ability to follow directions, basic honesty, maintaining an automobile, keeping promises.
The more complicated part of this is emotional maturity. Isn’t immaturity the reason for a number of problems that adults have?
We see "adult infants" every day. They need to grow up! Maybe you know an adult infant: one who knows everything, is overly jealous, tends to get angry easily — especially when not getting his way, and who needs immediate gratification.
Give us some of the signs of a mature person, so we can see where our children stand.
- Belief in self and values
- Handle frustrations & controls anger
- Use patience for long-term benefits
- Persevere to stick to an unpleasant project or situation
- Unselfishness and respect for other’s people’s work
- Accepting disappointment without becoming bitter
- Being calm for self and others
Some people might consider that "wishy-washy" – someone who is easily taken advantage of.
Maturity demands a person to be assertive enough to protect his or her position. A person can disagree without being disagreeable. A mature person can say, "I’m sorry, I was wrong," and go on. Humility gives us the ability to accept and learn from our mistakes.
If someone has an older teen that is about to leave home, what’s the best advice to give?
- "We are going to love to see you visit, but we expect you to make it on your own now."
- "No matter what you do, or how bad you feel about it, you can always call us to help you work it out."
- Stand up for what you believe
- Don’t make excuses – just do it right next time
- Enjoy people – treasure your friendships
- Accept what you deserve – good or bad
- Finish every job you start
- If you can’t change something, find a way to live in peace with it
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Reprinted with the permission of the Heartland Family Service. © 2008 Heartland Family Service