Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Adolescent Brain

Parents, I'm about to scare the poop out of you.  Today my pediatrician informed me that a child's brain doesn't resemble an adult brain until the child is 22-25 years old.

22?  I was married with a baby at age 22.  And 25?  I was married with two kids.  By age 26 I had three kids.  By my pediatrician's standards, I was a kid having kids.

And in many ways, I guess it's true. 

Our doctor clarified that while most of the brain is developed by the early 20's, the frontal lobe that controls decision making and impulse control is still under a little bit of construction. 

At that moment, reality punched me in the face.  I knew that my car ride to school this morning might very well be what my mornings look like for years to come.  My ten year old daughter left an assignment at home because she wasn't sure if she needed it.

Huh? 

So let me get this right, you left your assignment home because you weren't sure it was the right one?  What harm would come from bringing that paper with you to school?  Would the paper attack you?  

"MOMMMMM!  Stop!"

So if it was the right assignment, it's home.  And you get marked with a missed assignment. If it was the wrong assignment, and you brought it to school, it would have sat in your folder unharmed.  Just trying to understand your thinking process.

After talking with our pediatrician today, I realize that ten years old doesn't mean sound reasoning.  Twelve years old doesn't mean sound reasoning.  My babies are going to think like kids for a long time.  They will mature and get better with age, but it's my job to stay on them and help them make good decisions.

Decisions that actually make sense. 

This afternoon, after all this brain development talk at the doctor's office, I jumped on the computer and found this,

The research has turned up some surprises, among them the discovery of striking changes taking place during the teen years. These findings have altered long-held assumptions about the timing of brain maturation. In key ways, the brain doesn’t look like that of an adult until the early 20s.....The parts of the brain responsible for more "top-down" control, controlling impulses, and planning ahead—the hallmarks of adult behavior—are among the last to mature. -The National Institute of Mental Health

Lovely.  The area of the brain that controls acting like a responsible human being is the last to develop.  With my youngest munchkin being just four, I'm looking forward to approximately 20 more years of reminding my kids not to be idiots.

That's a lot of reminding.  Especially considering I've been at it for twelve years already.  Lord give me strength.  And patience.  And wisdom.

And please make sure I'm still sane when my babies are old enough to make rational, sound decisions.  Amen.



1 comment:

  1. Okay, was LOL at this - I am CONSTANTLY saying things like, "I don't get it, what were you thinking?" because the things my kids do (or don't do) just defy all logic. My youngest is 8...not sure I can deal with another 14 years of this LOL

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