Case A: Pedro will be 20 in December, but his emotional maturity is more like that of a 14-15 year old. He has matured a lot since he joined our family. Back then (when he was 17) I remember telling Kyle that he's more on the level of a 12-13 year old. Now, I'm not talking about his intelligence. He was public schooled, so he's definitely lacking in common sense, but I'll avoid that soapbox for now. Maturity, not smarts, is what I'm talking about. The reason for the gap is his upbringing. He wasn't raised in a normal family. He had none of the benefits we take for granted. He has only had a father for the past 2 years. If you understand the importance of a father in a child's life - that says a lot. There was no one to show him how to be a man, how to have a work ethic, why you should be honest, how to manage money, what is and is not ok to say aloud, I could go on.
We have several people in our life who don't get it when we jokingly say that Pedro wants to live with us until he's 35. We are bragging when we say that. To us, it means he loves us. He isn't a leech or a mooch; he's a boy who needs a family.Case B: Daniel is 3 1/2 years old. Developmentally, he's about 2 1/2 - the same age as Lydia. Although his speech is more articulate than hers, his thoughts are very similar to hers. Physically, he is age-appropriate and in some ways advanced. He can do a lot of things other 3 year olds cannot. On the other hand, he isn't remotely ready to potty train and I'm ok with that. Emotionally, he needs more mothering and more attention than other 3 year olds. Can you guess why?
Case C: Maya is 9 years old (she could actually be 10, but we're sticking with 9 because honestly, it means we have more time with her). Developmentally, she's on par with Elena who's 16 months her junior. Most of Maya's delays simply have to do with lack of opportunity. She is just learning to read and do addition. She has learned fairly quickly, but will not be caught up for quite awhile. A surprising blessing is Maya's innocence. Considering that she was raised in the middle of the horrific Liberian civil war, she is very pure of heart. Example: In the movie, Love Comes Softly, the girl asks her pregnant mother how the baby got in her tummy. Maya yelled to the screen, while rolling her eyes: "God put the baby in the mommy!"
It is very hard for me to treat my kids according to their development, instead of their age. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the discrepancy. Pedro looks like an adult. I want to treat him like an adult. I've found more success in talking to him like I would a boy in jr. high. That's how he thinks. He only bought a car when he was 18 because we kept telling him that he should want one. He didn't.