Do all that you can to give your kids a wonderful childhood full of laughter, discovery, security, and grand memories, but always with a constant perspective toward their maturity. The idea here is to see how what you are doing is moving them forward toward maturity which then begs the question, “What is maturity?”
Maturity is an evaluation of character development. Virtue equates to maturity but vice just means that you’ve gotten older while staying sinfully immature.
For example, I am sure that you have noticed that babies are some of the most self-centered beings on the planet. They are impatient about everything. They cry when they want something and cry when they don’t get what they want—even if it it’s a searing slice of pizza so hot that they could be permanently scarred.
They want the sharp knife, the dog’s food, the hammer, and they throw a tantrum when they are denied. If they could, babies and toddlers would wrestle you to the ground and pry what they want from your trembling hands by brute force. This may shock or surprise you to think about them this way, but know that it’s true. So that is who we are working with, immature sinners.
Not the Center of the Universe
One major dynamic of maturity then is not allowing them to think that they are the center of the universe. And let’s face it, our children start out as the center for us. We pamper them and cater to them and give them as much attention as we can. Even as they sleep, we creep into their rooms and stare at our precious one lying there in the bassinet.
At some point though, these privileged ones need to join the family. We still love them but they need and should learn to love others more than themselves. This is the law of Christ—to find your life you must lose it in loving your Lord and loving your neighbor as yourself.
So you can see how over-praising your child’s accomplishments can keep them too often as the center of attention. Fathers who emphasize performance over godliness will end up raising a performer. Moms who constantly “doll up” their little girl could be calibrating her to always seek the attention of everyone. Mothers be careful to remember that it was the wicked step-sisters who desired lavish attention and it was the chosen one—Cinderella—who served, was kind, was humble, who was ultimately crowned.
Look in the Mirror
There are two surefire ways of knowing what your little ones are going to be like five or ten years from now. First, observe their behavior and compare that to the selfless call of Romans 12 or the mandate of obedience found in Exodus 20 or the spirit that brings blessedness taught in Matthew 5: 1–12.
Secondly, look in the mirror. The mirror on the wall or your reflection presently holding a rattle or sippy cup.
Children start imitating us long before we are ready for them to, sooner than we expect, more than we thought that they would. You and I must realize that the best way to insure our children’s spiritual maturity, as they enjoy their childhood, is to be examples before them of laughter, resolution, and grace.
Have you found ways to cultivate maturity in your children? Talk to us in the comments below.