Mentoring Young Adults: Coming to Grips with Maturity

by Rick Lewis

Mentoring with young adults will commonly address three major areas:

  • Identity: ‘Who am I?’
  • Worldview: ‘How does the world work?’
  • Maturity: ‘What does it mean to be an adult?’

Sometimes questions of maturity are left unaddressed until a person is into their 30s or even their 40s. But when your mentoree starts to discern it’s time for them to grow up, how can you help them grapple with this huge topic?

Here is a start for a checklist for mentorees dealing with adult formation issues

  • Handling stress
  • Being appropriately assertive
  • Taking on responsibility
  • Perseverance
  • Keeping promises
  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional self-restraint
  • Handling conflict
  • Capacity for reflection
  • Receiving criticism
  • Wise prioritisation of values
  • Readiness to laugh at oneself

Use this list, along with additional items you think of together, to start talking about

  • how young people generally handle these things
  • examples of unusually mature young people they have known
  • examples of immature adults they have known and what makes them so
  • what it would take for your mentoree to adopt more mature responses

You might give your mentoree a reflective exercise like this. First, identify a key issue for them in which their personal maturity is a factor. This may be something like personal organisation, or taking out a mortgage, or responding to a major setback, or some other circumstance in which their immature responses are holding them back. Then have them complete the following statements:

  • In the matter of (key issue) a young person would be most likely to…
  • In that same matter, a mature person would be most likely to…

By clarifying the difference between immature and mature responses the mentoree is better able to make choices about which response they wish to adopt for themselves.

Richard Rohr presents 5 truths that a young adult needs to grasp to emerge into maturity:

  1. Life is hard
  2. You are not that important
  3. Your life is not about you
  4. You are not in control
  5. You are going to die

See his series of reflections on these points at

These points could be used to start a great conversation about what it means to be a ‘grown up’.

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