Home Concepts Adult Development Deep Caring XXVII: Generativity Four—The Sacrifices

Deep Caring XXVII: Generativity Four—The Sacrifices

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And there are those Emerging Sages who feel mixed about the sacrifices they make in their civic involvements: “I sacrifice my time, but I would not do anything differently. Sometimes my involvement in the community leads to recurrent 12-hour days. It can be exhausting, but it is worth it!”

The Differentiators

Several clear factors have led some Emerging Sage leaders to view their generative civic engagements as more of a sacrifice than is the case with others. Among those having children, there is a strong sense that civic engagement means sacrificing home time, while those who either have no children or no longer have children living at home, the answer is very similar to Senior Sage leaders: sacrifice is minimal. One Emerging Sage even says that she and her husband were not going to have a second child in order to sustain their civic engagement. Clearly, it is hard to nurture a child (Stage One Generativity) while also trying to nurture a community (Stage Four Generativity).

A second differentiator is age. While not many of the Emerging Sages are in their late 20s or early 30s, those who are face unique challenges. Some of the younger Emerging Sages talk about feeling alienated from their peer group, that while they have paid work and are also contributing to several nonprofit organizations, their friends are “enjoying life.” These Emerging Sages don’t have time to be self-indulgent; they find it difficult to meet others of their own age with the same kind of passionate commitment to some specific community issue. And they don’t easily find friends, so feelings of isolation and being under-appreciated abound. As we noted in an earlier essay, life can be very difficult for people who are out-of-sync with society’s expectations (Neugarten,1996) Our young Emerging Sage leaders have “grown-up” too fast and are assuming the burdens of mature adulthood without going through what Erik Erikson calls the “moratorium”—a stage for safe exploration of alternative identifies, values, and life-styles.

There is a third differentiator. For some of the Emerging Sages civic engagement is closely tied to their workplace. For others, civic engagement is essentially unrelated to the work they do for a living. It’s a bit easier for the first group, although virtually all of the Emerging Sages report the need to set boundaries and avoid taking on too much—regardless of the alignment between their paid and unpaid work.

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