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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor Emeritus of the School of Education and of the University of Navarra

The difficult maturity: from green to yellow

Tue, 24 May 2016 16:28:00 +0000 Published in Diari de Tarragona

"Green that I love you green/ green wind. Green branches/ The ship on the sea/ and the horse on the mountain." (F. García Lorca)

Who today is delaying young people from turning from green to yellow?

Possessive parents who think they are indispensable and do not know how to let go of their children; young children who do not decide to jump from the green branch that supports the nest.

The metaphor of the fruit is a didactic resource widely used to explain the process of human maturation, but with the nuance that a person -unlike the fruit- does not reach full maturity at a certain moment. On the other hand, it can mature in some aspects and not in others.

Access to adulthood requires going through adolescence. In adolescence, we start from a state of psychological immaturity to go in search of the maturity of an adult manager. Compared to that of the child, the immaturity of the adolescent is not - as is often believed - a setback.

The child is incapable of fending for himself, but "solves" it by accepting dependence on elders; the adolescent has the same incapacity, but in rejecting dependence (a positive trait in itself) incurs in many failures typical of immature behavior. For example, self-sufficiency and absence of self-criticism.

The maturation process is clearly observed in the topic of friendship. The child has playmates but no friends. It will be necessary to wait for the birth of intimacy, typical of adolescence, for confidentiality to emerge, although initially this new relationship still has possessive traits that are manifested in the so-called "particular friendships", closed to a possible third friend.

Being past the age of youth does not necessarily mean that one has matured. Chronological age does not ensure psychological maturity. Why are there many more cases of affective and volitional immaturity than of intellectual immaturity? Possibly because the intellectual dimension is the one most often valued and cultivated in many families and schools.

The immaturity of young people over the age of 25 is often due to the fact that they have settled into adolescence. The new difficulties to emancipate themselves, the fear to fend for themselves and the attachment to the easy life lead them to take refuge indefinitely in their family. It is a return to dependency.

Another possible cause of this prolonged immaturity is the protectionist family Education . Children who have not had opportunities to face difficulties on their own, when the age to take flight arrives, feel panic; they are in worse status than those who have had life experiences (as long as they are reflected experiences).

The prestigious sociologist Javier Elzo informs us about the profile of Spanish youth: "today's youth is more immature as the years go by". This is a self-diagnosis of 4,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Many young people do not recognize that they are dating ("we are not dating, we are friends"). This denotes a trait of immaturity: inability to assume new responsibilities.

There are courtships in which immaturity affects only one of the two:

-She: I'm leaving you because you're too immature.

-Him: I don't like practical jokes. Shut up and pass me the TV remote, I want to watch SpongeBob.


In other cases the immaturity is shared: 

-You are immature and I must be too, because what I like most about you are your defects.

Some young people blame all their problems on the world they live in, ignoring that the cause lies in their own immaturity. When there is no acceptance staff (recognition of one's own capabilities and limitations) communication is immature.

Achieving maturity means having correctly evaluated life, and giving each status the importance it deserves. This requires a certain Degree of self-knowledge. Other important traits of maturity are fidelity to commitments, responsibility, coherence, tolerance to frustrations, being realistic and forgetting about oneself.

The immature person makes very few demands on himself, blames others for everything bad that happens to him and has a permanent attitude of sterile complaint that creates an atmosphere of pessimism.

Immaturity hinders school performance and makes decision-making difficult. The best prevention is the Education of intelligence, affectivity and will throughout childhood.