When I was in post-grad school, I decided to focus on marriage and family therapy due to a personal reason.
You see, I have a younger sister who had always been the source of headaches for the family. The typical kids who would do what she had done were from a broken family or experienced childhood trauma. However, mom and dad were very much in love, and we never had money issues because they were both hard-working.
If we talked about neglect, that issue would not apply to my sister. My mother would never agree with me on this, but my parents favored her more than anyone in the family. Because of that, it had always boggled our minds as we kept on thinking, “Where did we go wrong?”
Stories From The Past
Mom and dad had a policy that we could get anything we wanted, but we could not have boyfriends until college. It was super simple – super understandable. Unfortunately, I heard dad’s voice roaring upstairs one day because she had my sister’s phone and saw that she was exchanging “I love you’s” with a boy from school. She was only 13 years old at the time.
Then, when my sister turned 16, our parents allowed her to get a part-time job. “Still,” they reminded her, “You should help out here at home and carry on your chores.” She managed to find a job, but her chores would remain undone until mom or dad would make a stance and not let her leave until everything’s done.
By the time I entered post-grad school, my younger sister was a college freshman. She was already 18 years old; I thought she would be wiser and more adult-like than ever. However, one of her instructors happened to be my sorority friend, and she asked me what’s going on at home because my sister hardly went to her classes.
That was like the tipping point for my parents. They gave my little sister a chance to explain herself, but she came up with alibis that were – for lack of a better word – dumb. She reasoned that her part-time job coincided with the class schedule, her alarm clock did not work, and her teacher did not let anyone in if they were at least a minute late.
In my dad’s anger, she made my sister stop for the rest of the semester. She argued that it would be a waste of money, but dad said, “You already wasted my money by skipping classes. God only knows what other subjects you did not go to, so you will come home and think about your actions.”
Signs of Maturity
My sister obviously hurt, asked why our parents made such a harsh decision. She felt like she was already an adult and could do whatever she wanted. However, I had to teach her about the signs of maturity that most parents need to see in their kids to consider them adults.
The primary thing that moms and dads are looking for is accountability. It merely implies that you should be able to own up to your actions. Whether it fails or succeeds, no one else should take the blame for it but you.
In my sister’s case, she blamed everything but herself when our parents learned she had not been going to class. It showed how irresponsible she was, which made our folks more upset than ever.
Mature individuals are not shy of revealing the truth, no matter how awful it may be. It’s still related to accountability, given that you can never be honest if you refuse to accept that you are responsible for something.
If we go back to the accounts above, you’d realize that my sister made various excuses during the confrontation. All of them were nonsensical – we’re still yet to get an honest answer out of her. It happened because she most likely knew the extent of her mistakes and did not want to get punished for them.
Repentant people are those who understand and accept their faults. Aside from apologizing about their actions, they also show how sorry they feel by doing the opposite of what they have done or changing their ways entirely.
This sign of maturity is challenging to see in young adults like my sister, who got mad about her punishment instead of feeling repentant. It meant that she still could not see the problem and that she felt wronged by our parents.
Diagnosis And Therapy
A few more months passed, and my sister’s behavior did not improve, so I brought her to my psychiatrist friend. She was eventually diagnosed with an immature personality disorder. It shocked my parents but not me since the signs had been there all along.
The psychiatrist and I worked together to help my sister deal with her issues. It took over a month before we got some truths out of her, and her actions were primarily due to her inability to cope with stress and understand that all adults are supposed to be responsible for everything. After the treatment, my sister finally got to go back to college.