We get a job, start paying our own bills, and get married. We are grown-ups, right? After all, those are grown-up things to do. Not so fast, this is the infancy of maturity. It is children who demand that we do in fact, actually, grow up.
Yet, it’s not that simple.
Our emotional behavior doesn’t necessarily match our physical age. We have to work at that. We have to develop into fully accountable human beings. We have to make a conscious choice to demonstrate mature behavior.
This can be hard as an individual let alone as a couple. What complicates this even more is we often marry our emotional equal. The Yin and yang of relationships.
It is crucial to demonstrate a mature form of love for our children’s sake.
This requires tremendous insight from both parents. And it should be as supremely important as picking the right pediatrician, safety proofing our houses, and outfitting nurseries. In other words, as important as all the other grown-up things we do to ensure our children are provided the most loving and nurturing environment.
But most importantly, because immature parenting can overburden one parent and cause substantial chaos in a home.
1. Undermining the Respect of A Spouse
A parent should never allow their children to be disrespectful to the other parent. Yet, it happens more often than it should. There is simply no excuse for a grown adult condoning this type of bad behavior from a child.
A spouse who tolerates and/or supports disrespectful behavior manifests in multiple ways.
The Apathetic Spouse: This is the significant other who is physically in the room but emotionally absent from it. In other words, this parent is undermining the respect shown to their spouse by ignoring their children’s behavior.
The Role Playing Spouse: This is the significant other who witnesses their children behaving badly but has assigned the role of disciplinarian to their spouse. Thus, they remain silent and leave one parent to play the role of both. Even in families where some parental duties are divided, there are times which demand unity. This would be one of them.
The OverGrown Child Spouse: This is the significant other who not only witnesses their children being disrespectful but joins in to either agree or support the bad behavior. This individual needs the children to be on his/her side when it comes to their view of the other parent. They need a team mom or team dad. They immaturely exercise their own feelings about their partner through their children rather than demand respect and deal with spousal issues separately.
The Selfish Spouse: This is the significant other who doesn’t get involved because whatever is being discussed does not impact their lives. If they do not care about the parenting issue they do not care if their children are being disrespectful. It’s not a part of their world, so it’s not important to them.
Children require structure, consistency, and unity. Hearing one parent say one thing and the other something else, is confusing to them. What seems like a temporary win to a child, aka getting their way, will eventually turn into a full-blown loss especially for the entire home. Because a disrespectful child will one day be a disrespectful teen. Disrespectful people do not care what other people think they do what they want.
The longer a parent undermines the respect of another parent the more out of control a household will become.
In fact, another word for disrespectfulness could be chaos.
Nothing could be more immature than a parent not recognizing their full responsibility as an adult and as a parent. Parenting is not a solo task nor should it be treated as one. It only hurts the children when parents do not support and respect one another.
2. Mocking A Spouse
Some jokes are well-intentioned and funny and become a part of inside-family banter. This type of good-hearted teasing would stem from a loving and respectful relationship. One where no ulterior motive or point was trying to be made.
The type of mocking which is not okay is using humor to simply make fun of someone or chastise them for behaviors we may not like. For instance, making fun of a spouse for liking their Starbucks coffee over a cheaper alternative. Nothing really funny about this. When we love people we get joy in making them happy. We don’t discipline them for little luxuries. And if money is truly an issue it can be resolved differently.
This appears harmless in the beginning. But it is often a disrespectful individual ‘humorously masking’ their dislike of what they do not agree with.
Mocking someone is really a personal attack. It is aimed at something we don’t like in an individual, something we don’t agree with or something left unresolved between us. It is mean-spirited and immature.
Conflict and differences in personalities can be dealt with differently.
3. Making A Spouse Overly Responsible While Being Under-Responsible
A spouse should be our emotional equal. They should not require us to be their mommy, their daddy, or their babysitter.
What happens when we are forced into these unwanted roles?
It requires one partner to be overly responsible because the other is being under-responsible. Ideally, when we leave our homes and go out into the world we have been taught to be responsible for our own behavior. If we haven’t it typically means we will marry someone who will take on that parental role for us.
Quite the dilemma once we become parents ourselves. This leaves one spouse needing to be parents to the children as well as their under-responsible significant other.
What does the under-responsible spouse look like? They repeatedly forget to bring home the milk even when asked. They go out after work but forget to call to say so. They might go out drinking without a ‘plan.’ In short, someone we aren’t able to consistently count on or who we repeatedly worry about because they often lack a ‘plan.’
What’s worse? Eventually the overly responsible spouse will also become under-responsible for some of their own personal wants and needs. This happens because they are expending so much energy being responsible for someone who lacks self-responsibility.
It’s not fair for a spouse to call the other spouse a ‘nag’ or ‘controlling,’ if in fact, neither is true. And in reality it’s because of an immaturity in accepting full responsibility for being an adult and a parent.
We are all imperfect human beings and will make mistakes. Therefore, we will also make mistakes as parents no matter how much we love our children. We will have moments of immaturity and less than desirable behavior especially as life and marriage and parenting get more complicated.
There will be moments when we all falter and do some of these things but it should not be the norm.
These three immature parenting moves lack one thing in common - respect.
When we respect the person we have chosen to spend our lives with, we would never let anyone speak badly to them. We would never consciously mock them with ill-intentions. And we would never have so little respect for their time and responsibilities that we would selfishly overburden them.
We would grow up because our children demand it.