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Young and Middle Adulthood Essay

Activity 2: Generativity

Watch as three adults talk about their experiences during middle adulthood. As you watch, reflect on how each individual has experienced generativity and found meaningfulness in his or her life.

#1: The first woman shown in the video describes her life in terms of communion, or caring for others. Define communion, and provide an example. How does her description of her life show continuity across the life span?

Communion refers to an individuals desire to relate, cooperate, and merge with others. People who are communion oriented find fulfillment in their relationships with others, as well as a sense of belonging. For example, someone who is communion oriented would choose to work in a field such as social services or nursing. The woman in the video states that during her 20’s she focused on herself and her plans (emerging adulthood), but now that she has a family her focus has shifted to her husband and children and keeping her family unit together. According to Erikson, the two basic tasks of adulthood are achieving intimacy and generativity. Based on her statements, I would say that this has been achieved.

#2: How does the man, shown second in the video, show evidence for the three adaptive processes identified by life span theorists (i.e., growth, maintenance, and regulation of loss)?

The man describes the relationship he and his wife now have with their children, as well as with each other. They are at the stage where their children are in college, so they have to work at maintaining the relationship with them. They do this by talking on the phone and visiting them at the college. As for their own relationship, he states that both he and his wife are now using the time they dedicated to their children to do more things together. This is helping them to both maintain their relationship and to regulate the loss of their children in the home.

#3. How does the third woman shown in the video display her feelings of generativity? How does her experience add to our understanding of generativity in middle adulthood?

Generativity refers to “making your mark” on the world, through caring for others, creating things and accomplishing things that make the world a better place (Cherry). By contrast, stagnation is failing to find ways to contribute. The third woman, although retired, has found many activities to participate in. She coaches sports teams, officiates games, and runs a pool. She also plays sports and has become more involved in her nieces and nephews lives. Although she is not married, she has found other things to fulfill her. She states that many people run into the problem, once they retire, of not being able to find something to fulfill them. Due to their career being such a big part of their life, they may not have had time to find other things they enjoy. This can lead to them feeling stagnation once they are no longer involved in the work place.

#4. Contact your own parents, if possible, and ask about their experience during middle age (you can also do personal reflection if this applies). List three questions that you might ask to help them reflect on their lives, perhaps in new ways, and with attention to the key concepts raised in Chapter 13.

I was unable to contact my parents. However, three questions I would ask them are: 1) As a child, do you feel that you were encouraged to develop a sense of pride in yourself? How do you think this affected you later in life? 2) Do you believe that you were able to develop a strong sense of personal identity? How do you think this affected your personal relationships? 3) Do you feel that you have or are contributing to society? How so? If not, what do you feel would help you achieve this feeling (generativity)?

#5. Using Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development as a theoretical framework, describe how you imagine your activities and priorities are likely to change over the course of the next 20 to 30 years. Be sure to consider your prior experiences as predictors of your future, recognizing, of course, that the prediction isn’t perfect. In the next 20 to 30 years, my children will be adults and I imagine that they will have children of their own. I plan to take an active role in the lives of my grandchildren (as my grandparents had in mine). I also plan to stay involved in my children’s lives, yet at the same time give them the space they need as they will no longer be children. In terms of a career, I plan to still be working, maybe considering retirement. However, even once I retire, I plan to stay involved in my chose field. I will do this by volunteering. As far as marriage goes, I plan to enjoy having alone time with my partner. Right now, we are focused on our children, so it will be nice to be able to focus on ourselves and each other more.

Broderick, P.C., & Blewitt, P. (2010). The life span: Human development for helping professionals. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall. Cherry, K. (n.d.). Generativity Versus Stagnation. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/generativity-versus-stagnation.html

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