What Produces an Immature Person?

Luke 2:40, 50-52 – …the child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him…And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

There are around eight stages to the development of a child: 

  1. Conception to Birth – In this phase, the parents prepare their heart and home to welcome their blessing. 
  2. Baby (Birth to 18 months) – This phase is largely feeding and nurturing, so the child develops in every area (emotional bonding, comforting touch, feeding, investing in the health of the whole child), and the child starts exploring by touching everything and tactile learning, including putting things in their mouth. 
  3. Toddler (18 months to 3 years) – This is a phase of informal training (telling the child “no”, teaching emotional regulation, learning rules, being part of a group, practicing delayed gratification, doing chores, forming preferences, and being read to).
  4. Preschooler (3-6 years) – This phase requires consistent training during busy years as the child is curious, mobile, and active (reading with the child, beginning formal learning, answering the constant question “why”, playing with others, socializing, doing crafts, playing outside and being more independent).
  5. School age (6-12 years) – This phase begins more formal and frequent time away from a parent, and a time of character and identity formation (growing independence, personality and personal interests begin to emerge, friend groups form, and personal preferences in everything from clothing to food and music).
  6. Teens (13-18 years) – This is a phase of major transition where the child should be maturing into adulthood (personal identity is forming, puberty causes physical changes, moodiness happens as hormones change). They spend more time in their world than with their parents as they have independence with a driver’s license and technology, spend time at school and with friend groups, and test the boundaries assigned by authorities including parents. This is the beginning of differentiation where a child pushes for independence and starts questioning the family rules and pushing boundaries. 
  7. Young adults (19+ years) – This is a phase of differentiation, which we will study more in depth later in this workbook, where a child becomes a legal adult, and must learn to cultivate responsible independence so they can eventually marry and become parents of their own child (paying their own bills, getting an education, working a job, governing their own life without parents looking after them or fixing their problems). This is the finishing of the differentiation process so that the young adult has a different address, income, and bank account than their parents. 
  8. Adults – This is a phase of becoming married, having a child, and living as a responsible and maturing person who is no longer dependent upon their parents like a child but is able to be a parent and care for their own child as their parents move into the position of wise counsel, emotional support, and burden lifter. This is maturity and differentiation completed. 

Each of these transitions from phases 1-8 is an opportunity for overparenting to occur, which hinders the development of the child into the next phase of maturity. This explains why current generations aren’t getting their driver’s licenses and a full-time job, living on their own, and marrying later and later. 

Immaturity is what happens when someone who should be in the next life stage is stuck in the previous life stage. For example, it is not immature for a six-year-old boy to not generate any income and occasionally throw a fit. However, it is immature for a twenty-six-year-old boy who can shave to be unemployed and prone to throwing temper tantrum fits. 

Some parents think that their immature young children will automatically become mature when they are older. However, when considering maturity, we have to also consider the age of the child. Our hope, prayer, and goal should be to help our child be mature for their age, no matter the age. At two, we should help them work toward maturity for two. At 12, we should help them work toward maturity for 12. At 22, we should help them work toward maturity for 22. 

If we can help our kids go through the different stages at appropriate times and speeds, they’ll hopefully become well-adjusted, healthy adults that have healthy relationships with family going forward and raise their kids to have godly, healthy family systems. 

Are there any seasons of your life that you did not mature through and need to work on catching up in?

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