I Was Thinking…
As my family progresses through our days, I still see one place that, if we are not being very INTENTIONAL, we can still get tripped up! That area is that space between chronological age and emotional age. This concept is SO crucial when we are trying to be a HEALING force. Whether it was when my girls were 2, 3 and 5 or now 12 years later, there is still a gap there. The gap of the two younger girls has really gotten very minimal; however, the gap for my oldest sometimes seems even bigger. Societally, there are so many expectations of an 18 year old that her deficits are even more evident now.
Parenting via emotional age versus chronological age is one of the ways in which we are really challenged! Our kids are survivors and often that creates the illusion that they are more mature than their chronological age. They know how to rise to the occasion, fit the mold, look the part. However, this is many times just a façade. We see this “gap” affect them when they can’t hold it together anymore. We see raised anxiety, destructive behavior, constant sabotage of their closest relationships, the inability to ask for help and so much more. Inside our kids are hurting and striving to be what they believe the world wants them to be - but they are not truly equipped. They have a history of disrupted attachment, which leaves them with a core belief that they are unworthy, no foundation for self-esteem or a base for building healthy relationships. They are tripped up by missed developmental milestones and deficits in all areas of the whole human being from the impacts of trauma.
So, we have to figure out where they are emotionally and meet them there! Not where our expectations of someone of that chronological age should be and especially not where the expectations of society would have them be.
We have to be the bridge between their emotional age and their chronological age.
Oh this can be SO DIFFICULT!
The first goal is to “grow them up from zero” no matter how old they are when they come to us! They deserve to have that kind of care. Intentional. Detailed. Connected. Yes, even the 18 year olds!
The second goal is to create a life that honors both their chronological age and their emotional age. Hormones don’t wait for emotional development; they rage on no matter what! Peer pressure is real no matter how old you are. Society’s definition of successful doesn’t take into consideration one’s past!
The third goal is to adjust OUR expectations and meet our kids where they are emotionally, even if they have done it before, are “smart enough” to do it, or say they can do it. We need to know better. Use the signs we have to really help our child heal.
The REALITY of things is that parenting my kids using tools and techniques that always lean strongly towards their emotional age increases the amount of times they are SUCCESSFUL! I know that this is where HEALING happens!
So, no matter how much work it is and no matter how different I have to do it than everyone else…I’m going to INTENTIONALLY remember their emotional age!