I hear most parents long for the days before puberty mutated their child. School aged children are incredibly willing to be involved in something and strikingly sure about themselves. They want to do something and are pretty sure they can do it. Even if they can’t do something they are still remarkably resilient. (All of this is generally speaking of course, any parent can tell you otherwise.)
Children are certainly different from teens and adults. They’re resilient, but they’re also naive, which is what makes them resilient, and it’s all because their brains aren’t fully developed.
Thinking abstractly about concepts or ideas is not in their tool box. Their mind operates concretely, so they’re only able to think about what’s in front of them, be it their thoughts or the task at hand. They can’t fully grasp how their actions will effect them and they can’t fully grasp what others might be thinking about them.
Take for instance stage fright. Compared to a teen, a child is less scared about what people might think of them and more concerned with what they think about themselves. A child’s struggle is less about embarrassment and more about their ability to complete a task, that is their sense of competence or industry. Continue reading
When I first sensed my call to ministry I was 16.
Now I’m 30.
My call is the same now as it was then… and yet it’s completely and utterly different. Now that I’m 30, I’ve finished puberty (thank God), graduated high school, college and grad-school, had a couple jobs and gotten married (no kids yet).
That same call is different now not merely because I’ve lived life, it’s also because I’m asking different questions about myself, the world and my relation to it. My meaning-making is totally different now than it used to be and it will continue to change.
“Trying to fit in” is widely believed to be the teenage concern. Their most important relationships are their peers, thus belonging/fitting in is most important.
But it’s not.
For teens, fitting in is not the primary concern, it’s the byproduct of their wrestling with their primary issue of “Who am I?”
And it all starts with the teenage brain that has matured to the point where it can “think about thinking”. The teenage brain, like an adult’s, can think logically in an abstract way – such as a mathematic word problem. More to the point of identity, teens are able to think about what people and theirs peers think about them.
“Who am I?” is one of life’s big questions and it’s not a question that’s answered in isolation. Answering the question is as much about one’s personal thoughts as much as it is about what they think others think. This negotiation between what one thinks about themselves and how they think they are thought about is the struggle of identity. Continue reading
No one wants to fail. If you fail you’ve wasted time and energy. That’s why no one wants to do the wrong thing. We want to do the right thing. We want to spend our time and energy on doing things that matter. We want to make our lives count.
But if your middle age… this concern is particularly meaningful for you. Those who are middle age, 40-65, have figured out who they are in the world and how they fit into the world around them (for the most part). At middle age, they are now at a life stage (Erikson’s 7th) where their primary concern is using themselves to make a difference where they are. It is a conflict between creating/doing right and feeling stagnant or failing. Erikson calls this a struggle for generativity. Continue reading
No one wants a meaningless life. Every now and then we all wonder whether or not the life we are living is worth it. We all hope the life we are living is meaningful. We want to look back at something done and think it was good that it was done. And even if it wasn’t necessarily good, hope that some good came of it.
That hope is incredibly significant for those who have reached the latter half of their life. Our elders are in a life stage (Erikson’s 8th) where the primary concern is being satisfied with the life they lived. They’ve moved on into retirement after being in the work force for years and the reality of their own mortality is more striking now than it had ever been. There is a very real struggle in wondering about the could-a, should-a, would-a of their entire life. The question over whether or not their life was lived well is what Erikson calls a search for integrity. Continue reading
We all want to feel like we belong. It’s part of our human condition: we want to feel like we have a place in the world. Whether or not it’s being a loner or being the center of attention, we want to feel like that what ever it looks like we feel like we belong there for good reason.
For a 20-30 something, this notion of belonging is a particularly significant concern. 20-30 somethings have moved on from adolescence and have a pretty solid concept as to who they are and their identity. This new life stage (Erikson’s 6th) navigates the question of belonging: how someone lives in the world as who they are. So before someone can really focus on what they’re doing with their life, they are searching for intimacy. Continue reading