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Generativity Two: The Existing Concepts

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One of our Featured Players, Sally, offers a poignant example of what it means to care for the next generation, even though the person being cared for does not come from her own family. Sally frames this generative act as being similar to the role she has played as both a caring mother and daughter:

Perhaps my most authentic and meaningful grand parenting has been in a mentoring role with someone outside our family. Shortly after we moved here, I became a board member of a local nonprofit organization that works with at-risk, under-served girls. Each girl has a mentor, called “an Angel.” I met my mentee, Janet, when she was twelve years old; her mother was killed in an automobile accident. I have had a major parenting relationship with Janet from that time right through her recent 20th birthday. My husband and I have become so close with her that she calls us “Grandma and Grandpa.”

Sally takes great pride in recounting the achievements of Janet and their own intervention with Janet’s partner:

She will finish college in 2016 and is living with a wonderful young man who is going on to law school; they plan to extend this relationship long term, and they both turn a lot to us for advice and emotional support. For example, the young man hadn’t told his parents that he was living with Janet, and we counseled that he tell them. To his surprise, they surmised that he and Janet had been living together. This experience and grand parenting relationship have been very satisfying to my husband and me. We have helped Janet along the way to be honest with herself, to be true to herself, and to have compassion in dealing with the sad part of herself. Indeed, we have developed an emotional attachment with her that we were unable to have with our own grandchildren due to the distance while our granddaughters were growing up. We regard Janet as our “adopted granddaughter.”

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One Comment

  1. Rey Carr

    June 21, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    This is a most important essay. I’ve always thought that Erikson’s identification and explanation of this stage received too little attention. And maybe that’s part of the dilemma; younger researchers theorists weren’t in this stage and just thought of it as an abstract concept? At the same time generativity became much more important to me as I got older. Your essay is brilliant and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

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