In the late 90s I learned about emotional maturity from Dr. Jim Wilder. His organization, Life Model Works, has a detail list of needs and tasks pertinent to each emotional maturity stage of life. One of the maturity tasks for children towards the end of the Child Stage (ages 4-13) is to learn the “big picture” of life. “What does that mean?” you might ask. “And how do I help my children learn it?” Here is one way to help a child learn what this means.
Draw (or have them draw) a road with a fork in it. Talk about the two forks. The left fork represents that we can walk with Jesus and live as He wants us to live. The right fork represents that we can make choices that will take us away from how Jesus wants us to live. What we want to consider is a very important question—“What will my life be like in 5 years if I choose the left fork?” Talk about how old the child will be in 5 years. Then discuss the question using 10 years as the example.
If you have a teen who is already leaning towards the left fork, it can be helpful to them to think about what their life will be like in 5 and then 10 years if they continue the direction they are going. Doing this exercise has to be done in a loving manner. The most important thing we can do with our children regardless of their age is to love them unconditionally, communicate that we are glad to be with them no matter what, and remember and practice that relationships are more important than problems. Make the fork in the road part of your conversations, but not as a tool to discipline.
The lists are also in myHandbook to Joy-Filled Parenting.