Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The Age of Maturity

3 January 2016


I suppose the past few days must have been confronting – again – for lots of divorced parents. No messages from their children. And to some extent grandparents face a similar silence. Even my mother did not receive any message although she did send her grandchildren postcards.

Every divorce has its own unique situation. It is nearly impossible to counter these situations with generic laws or regulations. The common solution in my country – put the child’s interest first – may seem smart but does not work either. Children who live with one parent need to be loyal to that parent. As we say in Dutch: “Wiens brood men eet, diens woord men spreekt.” In English: (1) never quarrel with your bread and butter, or (2) who finds my bread and cheese, it’s to his tune I dance. Excerpt from Concise Dictionary of European Proverbs by Emanuel Strauss.

The legal age of maturity in my country is 18. It’s also the age at which you are allowed to drive a car. However, similar to many other countries, young car drivers until the age of 25, are involved in significantly more (fatal) car accidents (eg, CDC fact sheet, driving school factsSWOV fact sheet).

There is a reason for these facts and my mentioning of it: “New guidance for psychologists will acknowledge that adolescence now effectively runs up until the age of 25 for the purposes of treating young people. So is this the new cut-off point for adulthood? “The idea that suddenly at 18 you’re an adult just doesn’t quite ring true,” says a child psychologist”. (eg, BBC, DailyMail, MedicalDaily)

Sarah Helps, ‎consultant clinical psychologist: “We used to think that the brain was fully developed by very early teenagerhood and we now realise that the brain doesn’t stop developing until mid-20s or even early 30s. [ ] This is particularly important in terms of social reasoning, planning, problem solving and understanding. So the brain is reorganising itself, which then means that different thinking strategies are used as your brain becomes more like an adult brain”. (eg, BBC, NHS)

The good news for me is that their maturity is still on its way, the bad news is that it will take several more years to arrive. In the meantime, parental alienation just continues with its devastating impact. Despite its name, the impact of parental alienation on children may be higher than on parents. 

PsychologyToday: “What children of divorce most want and need is to maintain healthy and strong relationships with both of their parents, and to be shielded from their parents’ conflicts. Some parents, however, in an effort to bolster their parental identity, create an expectation that children choose sides. In more extreme situations, they foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In the most extreme cases, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, despite children’s innate desire to love and be loved by both their parents”.

So far all my efforts to reconnect have been in vain. And I understand that very well given the above. In order not to let them rip my heart out, I have chosen a strategy of reciprocity: The Sound of Silence. It is my way to survive. And perhaps theirs. I don’t really know as they have become strangers. Nevertheless, they are – and will always remain – my first, my last, and my everything.

Barry White (1944-2003) – You Are The First, The Last, My Everything (1974) – lyrics, Wiki


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