My daughter. The beautiful little premie who made me a mama. My passionate, stubborn, and strong-willed daughter Morgan recently turned 25. TWENTY FIVE. I have no idea where the time has gone or how either of us have lived through the past 25 trips around the sun, but we have. We’ve had sort of a rough go of it, but we’ve come through the other side and–woohoo!–that prefrontal cortex is about ready to put on the brakes and become aware. Aware of the patterns that will lead to good decisions. Or at least, I think they will!
My husband says she gets it from me. Not only her wild side, but her ability to stick to her guns and dig in her heels. Okay, I admit it. She comes by it honestly. In my youth, I made poor decisions, took horrible risks that were so dangerous that I wonder how I lived thru them, and took a different road with questionable safety while everyone else was taking the safer one. And with the ability to sometimes take the wrong road, there is passion. I have never met another human being in all my life who has the ability to care for people as much as my daughter. When she gets into a relationship, she is ALL IN. She cares. She genuinely loves with her whole heart and nothing less.
Back to the brain development, namely the prefrontal cortex. It’s not that our children all make bad decisions before they turn 25. I’m not implying that. What I am implying is that, if your child, especially your teen, is having a hard time making a decision that has a favorable outcome to all parties involved, it could be due to their lack of brain development. Its not that they are a “bad kid.” They just might not have the ability to automatically jump to the right decision! The frontal lobe is the part of our noggin that steers us in the right direction. It helps us by being a control panel that regulates our judgement, problem solving skills, and emotional expression. I’ve looked into this, a lot. I waited for that 25th year birthday for a long time. Not just for me, but for her.
By the time a person hits the age of 25, give or take a few months, the part of the brain the controls our impulses and decisions sort of puts on the brakes and says “whoa!” when faced with an important choice or decision to make. Risk management and long-term planning become reasons to stop and pause and think about what the outcome could be while making an important decision. Whew! 25 seems like a long time to wait, but trust me. It goes by in the blink of an eye!
It has also been studied that by the time we hit 25, it may be harder to teach an “old” dog new tricks. Heck, I’m 51 and still dig in my heels at the slight possibility of change, now more than ever. Nevertheless, we can change. We can also help steer our children into the right direction and to make choices that are more favorable to them and others. It has been said in our house, sometimes jokingly and sometimes not, “C’mon 25!” NOT all decisions made before this age are bad. Some, maybe. Talk through these times with your kiddos. Open communication is a must!
So to my daughter, although I still joke about the magic age of 25, you have been loved and supported at all ages. We’ve made it this far and will continue to do so. Your passion and determination are only two of the things that make you YOU. You are always will be THE BEST decision I ever made when I was 25.
And to my son, Benjamin? You’ve got 3 years and 6 months to go, buddy. You’re next. C’mon 25!