According to our trusty newsroom Random House dictionary, “Immaturity” is defined as “not mature, ripe, developed, perfected, etc.”
I found myself thinking about this a lot this week after a few instances with my kids that left me aggravated and annoyed with their behavior and choices and their apparent reluctance to change or address what they have been doing wrong.
While hard to disagree with that definition cited, I would add a line like this: “a condition prone to gross misjudgments through erratic, unexplainable, disturbing and frustrating actions.”
While we are focused on raising our kids with a certain value system, the fact is at this point there are times when they don’t show it, such as disrespecting people by constantly interrupting them while they are talking in the case of Beckett, 8, or insisting on waking everyone up in the house at 4 a.m., which Carson, 6, seemed to enjoy this week, despite knowing better. There are times they are going to do what they want because they are selfish and immature and it’s extremely aggravating.
My problem is I take it personally as a parent, as if there’s something I am doing wrong or something my wife should be doing differently.
It was interesting to read about this topic on The Washington Post’s parenting blog by Meghan Leahy. This website has become my guilty pleasure to read when it comes to parenting topics.
“If you fall into the trap of taking your children’s behavior personally, you cannot clearly see your children. You are too busy reacting to your own junk. You explode or you waver in indecision. When you buckle down and realize it’s really not about you, you will be free to parent. And when you do occasionally explode, forgive yourself and move on.
“As you are growing as an adult, you will also become more comfortable with the expression of emotion, in all its messy forms. Will you enjoy your child’s tantrum? Will you relish the hitting? Will you celebrate the rudeness? No. But you will understand that the human experience involves feeling emotions and letting them out. And young children do this frequently and poorly. We guide, we hug, we create boundaries, and we help them move through the emotions and move on.
“Effective parents acknowledge that there is no workaround for this. Big emotions are inconvenient, but they are appropriate — and the alternative (keeping emotions in) makes children angry, violent and withdrawn.”
Leahy’s words hit home for me, particularly after a “mad dad” episode this week, and maybe they will for you as well.
The good news is the opposite of immaturity is of course maturity, which means “fully developed in body or mind, as a person.”
I wouldn’t go that far to even describe myself as that at 40 years old. I’m a work in progress with strengths and weaknesses and so are my children. I just need to be patient with them and understand their self-awareness, ability to quell impulses and learning self-control will improve over time. In the meantime, we will just continue imposing consequences on the unexpected actions and unacceptable behavior as it arises. It’s the only thing to do.
Thank you for staying with me as I rambled through these thoughts. This was basically just a therapy session brought on by a long day this week. It helps to write. That was the main impetus behind this whole column in the first place back when Beckett was 2 months old.
I look forward to Facebook memories popping up every day.
For those unfamiliar with how it works, supposedly because it cares about us, Facebook notifies users daily or close to it, it seems, of posts made in the past on this or that particular day. For instance, this week my memories included photos of a karate belt ceremony for Beckett two years ago, a pool party we had at our house six years ago, a trip to New York City five years ago and a chubby baby photo of Carson from six years ago.
It’s a great reminder to how fast and how much things change with growing kids. It’s like a modern day photo album.
Yesterday, I realized how silly I was seven years ago posting a naked photo of Beckett running in our backyard.
It was fun to show him and embarrass him the other day about it. I joked with him that I was going to get the photo blown up and hang it in my office. He was mortified and said he would have me arrested for “child pornology.”
I just let that one go.