Our youth pastor & his wife attended a conference last month and heard a speaker share the following phrase concerning teenagers, "Don't judge a book by its cover or by the first few chapters." It's an encouragement to be part of the transformation process for youth and not make concrete judgments about who they are at an early age. It's a reminder that our youth are a work in progress and we need to show them some grace through their growth.
It's actually pretty good advice for all of us. I don't think it just applies to our early years of life, but also the formative years of many life seasons. I'm glad that many parts of my life are not defined only by the first few years: my marriage, my parenting, my development as a man, and my role in ministry. Instead it's a good reminder that we are all (hopefully) a work in progress and we all need a little grace. Sometimes (especially early in development) we need that grace even more.