Emotional immaturity is the result of or a combination of the following.
- Emotional trauma as a child or young person.
- Never having had to accept responsibility for one’s own actions.
These two things are the primary source of emotional immaturity. Combined, they reflect a troubled individual and personality.
Children and even teenagers lack the experience and emotional stability to deal with the trauma that can result from abuse, abandonment, being unloved, or even the death of someone close. So many of the problems that I saw as a pastor and counselor stemmed from these emotional traumas inflicted in those tender and delicate childhood years.
A child or even teenagers often deal with trauma by pretending it never happened. They try to live their lives by hiding their injury. They are bleeding inside, while pretending outside that all is well. The result of this is devastating:
They stop growing or maturing emotionally.
When something tragic, say sexual abuse, happens to a nine year old, that nine year old stops growing emotionally. He or she may grow physically, by all outward appearances, but emotionally, in many respects, he or she is still a nine-year-old child inside. These wounds may manifest themselves much later and affect sexual habits, sexual interest, and intimacy in marriage.
There has been many a case where two twenty year olds get married, but because of childhood emotional injuries, it is more like a marriage between children. And within a very short amount of time, the immaturity becomes apparent in their marriage. To add to the difficulties, when an emotionally immature parent tries to raise children of their own then the problems become even more profound. When you have an emotional nine-year-old trying to raise another nine year old the results are often disastrous.
Emotional injuries must be healed to allow for mature growth. Without the healing, there will always be immaturity. If you are such a person, then find a good pastor or counselor and get these emotional injuries dealt with before they consume your relationships.
NOT HAVING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONE’S OWN ACTIONS
Parents often make a fatal mistake when it comes to child rearing. We allow our children to get away with things, we defend them for doing wrong, we ignore their tantrums, we allow them to indulge in their appetites, and we brush it all off with a muttered comment, “Kids will be kids.”
There is no doubt that kids will be kids. But to allow children to indulge in such behavior ultimately means that they never have to grow up emotionally. The only difference between maturity and immaturity is the ability to accept responsibility for one’s responsibilities. But the way many of our youth are raised, they have no inclination, desire, or understanding to do so.
We start building these habits in our children while they’re young. A two-year-old will dump all the toys out onto the floor and who ends up picking them up? Most often the parent does. The child never learns that there are consequences to his actions. We say to that two-year-old, “Don’t worry, if you make a mess, Mommy will clean it up.” That idea sticks with them until they are taught differently. From there, it just gets worse.
We thrust these emotionally immature children into adulthood where, suddenly, they must accept responsibility for their actions in ways they never ever had to as children. But they have no capacity to do so. They end up in disastrous relationships, getting hurt, hurting others, end up in jail, ruin their credit, get into extreme debt, become abusers in their own rights, or end up prematurely dead.
The so called “sowing wild oats” leads to lifelong injuries and scars that they end up paying for the rest of their lives. It is a tragedy.
If you are a parent with children living at home, please teach your children to take responsibility for their responsibilities. Give them responsibilities. Don’t allow them to go into adulthood emotionally immature. More often than not, they will have to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives if they go into adulthood with such immature habits and attitudes.
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