Repeated and Diversified Experiences
Many of the generativity researchers have noted that mentoring is often not a onetime experience, that sometimes it involves increased diversity of mentoring experience. Frequently, a generative adult will describe multiple experiences as a mentor and often identify mentoring experiences that extend over many years (suggesting that Generativity Two is not limited to our mid-life years). This persistence is often identified as long-term commitment: “Experiencing the world as a place where people need to care for others, the protagonist commits the self to living in accord with a set of clear and enduring values and personal beliefs that continue to guide behavior, throughout the life span (moral steadfastness.” (McAdams, Hart and Maruna, 1998, p. 34)
We turn again to Sally’s narrative, beginning with her experience as a mentor while in her 30s:
I also had a wonderful mentoring experience in my 30s during the Creative Initiative Foundation years. My husband and I served as “house parents” to a group of young high school women whose parents (also members of the Creative Initiative project) decided it would be a valuable experience for their daughters to live together under a single roof and develop life skills that would help them to move through their formative years and then on to college. Each girl got a stipend from their parents for a whole year, and they did all of the cooking and planning. Part of their stipend was spending money, and they did a variety of projects (e.g., working at the Levi factory putting fabric on carts, picking garlic in Fresno with migrant workers, various internships, etc.). My husband and I were volunteers, and our role was to develop a mature adult relationship with the girls by helping to support their decision making. My husband and I were adults who they could come and talk to, but we avoided telling them “what to do”; rather, we guided them on the “how to do” when they identified personal problems and issues. The girls are now in their 50s, have careers, and most are married with children of their own.
Years later, Sally served as a mentor to a young woman who came from a different cultural background. We see Sally not only repeatedly offering mentoring to young people, but crossing a cultural boundary:
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After my husband and I had moved to Nevada City, I mentored a young Hispanic girl from the time she was 11 until she was 17. I still keep in touch with her. She comes and sees us once in a while, and she is now in college. She spoke very little English when I first met her. So, I helped her transition from being Mexican with parents who worked in strawberry fields to becoming a young professional American woman.