Someone told me that William, my oldest, seems particularly mature for his age. Mature. We have our struggles, especially when his SPD (sensory processing disorder) rears its ugly head. If we get basic good behavior, I call it a good day. So why did this word strike me? I can think of a slew of other characteristics that I’d rather be complimented on:
- Well mannered
But the word mature is especially flattering. Mature is how I would describe the children of the parents I most respect. When a child is mature, it means to me that they have all of these qualities and more. When a child is mature, it tells me the child has been taught how to confidently navigate his way through this world.
When a child has been taught how to navigate the world, he is given the foundation that allows him to develop confidence. With that foundation, the child is free to learn and grow.
What is that foundation built upon? Obedience. Yes, everything circles back to obedience.
“Freedom is not found in autonomy, it is found in obedience.” (Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp, p. 27)
I’m reminded of a story my contact mom once told me. She said she and another mom were on a hike with their kids and reached a particularly treacherous area. The path was surrounded on one side by water and on the other side by a steep drop-off. It was a dangerous spot. The other mom held her children’s hands tightly to keep them from running away and to keep them safe. She couldn’t trust them.
Meanwhile, my contact mom had taught her children to obey her word. She was able to tell them to stay near her while still letting them walk freely. Because of their characteristic obedience, these children were given the freedom to appropriately explore their world. They could be trusted to keep themselves safe, and because of this obedience, they were allowed more freedom.
So do I want my children to be happy, respectful, confident and a host of other qualities? Of course. But will I strive most for obedience and maturity? No doubt.