Growing up

Michael Bishop 02 May 2018 sunday blog  relationships  children 

We spent the first part of our Thursday morning watching our daughter take part in the annual So-High pre-primary sports day. There were a few tears (children, mostly) but on the whole, everyone had a good time. Watching all those kids running in different directions made me wonder what kind of people they will be when they grow up.

They will get taller and stronger and faster (if we feed them...). They will fill their heads with all sorts of knowledge (depending on what we expose them to). But it is possible to get bigger and cleverer without growing up emotionally. We all know adults who behave like five year olds. None of you reading this, of course, but I can think of world leaders who may fit into that category :)

That thought sent me down the Internet rabbit-hole looking for articles on emotional maturity. What are the qualities that mark a person who has matured – not just physically and intellectually, but emotionally? One author listed seven: the ability to cope with delayed gratification, the ability to handle criticism and flattery, humility, values-based decision-making, being grateful, teachability and unselfishness.

That’s quite a list! Especially the last one, right? Maturing seems to be a process of learning to not get our own way. Interestingly, a psychological study published a few years back identified reciprocal interaction as a key trigger for producing selfless behaviour in toddlers. Very young children who interacted reciprocally with others were more likely to act with an awareness of the needs of others.

It is easier to retreat into our own small worlds (especially for us introverts), but connecting meaningfully with others is a vital part of helping us all to grow up. This last week in the life of our church, there have been many chances to connect beyond our immediate circles – from meeting fellow Methodists at our circuit quarterly meeting to our sewing group connecting with ladies from Shaka’s Head. These are such rich, formative encounters and we need to grab them when they come. Who will you and I connect with today?

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