Stability and Change in Self-Concept and Personality

 

chapter 16 Emotional and Social Development in Middle Adulthood

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Midlife is a time of increased generativity—giving to and guiding younger generations. Charles Callis, director of New Zealand’s Olympic Museum, shows visiting schoolchildren how to throw a discus. His enthusiastic demonstration conveys the deep sense of satisfaction he derives from generative activities.

chapter outline

·  Erikson’s Theory: Generativity versus Stagnation

· ■  SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH  Generative Adults Tell Their Life Stories

Other Theories of Psychosocial Development in Midlife

·   Levinson’s Seasons of Life

·   Vaillant’s Adaptation to Life

·  Is There a Midlife Crisis?

·   Stage or Life Events Approach

Stability and Change in Self-Concept and Personality

·   Possible Selves

·   Self-Acceptance, Autonomy, and Environmental Mastery

·   Coping with Daily Stressors

·   Gender Identity

·   Individual Differences in Personality Traits

· ■  BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT  What Factors Promote Psychological Well-Being in Midlife?

Relationships at Midlife

·   Marriage and Divorce

·   Ch

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One weekend when Devin, Trisha, and their 24-year-old son, Mark, were vacationing together, the two middle-aged parents knocked on Mark’s hotel room door. “Your dad and I are going off to see a crafts exhibit,” Trisha explained. “Feel free to stay behind,” she offered, recalling Mark’s antipathy toward attending such events as an adolescent. “We’ll be back around noon for lunch.”

“That exhibit sounds great!” Mark replied. “I’ll meet you in the lobby.”

“Sometimes I forget he’s an adult!” exclaimed Trisha as she and Devin returned to their room to grab their coats. “It’s been great to have Mark with us—like spending time with a good friend.”

In their forties and fifties, Trisha and Devin built on earlier strengths and intensified their commitment to leaving a legacy for those who would come after them. When Mark faced a difficult job market after graduating from college, he returned home to live with Trisha and Devin and remained there for several years. With their support, he took graduate courses while working part-time, found steady employment in his late twenties, fell in love, and married in his mid-thirties. With each milestone, Trisha and Devin felt a sense of pride at having escorted a member of the next generation into responsible adult roles. Family activities, which had declined during Mark’s adolescent and college years, increased as Trisha and Devin related to their son as an enjoyable adult companion. Challenging careers and more time for community involvement, leisure pursuits, and each other contributed to a richly diverse and gratifying time of life.

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