William Bergquist and Gary Quehl
Typically, there are two major questions that face any person or couple when they have begun to raise children or begin a mutual project. The first of these concerns the amount of time and other resources that each person and the partners together devote to raising children or conducting their project. Chronic stress, due to shortages, rather than acute crises often influence and can even destroy the health of an individual and the health of an intimate relationship. We have to place child rearing and project management at the top of the list that demand scarce resources. The second question concerns the ways in which children will be raised and a project will be managed. This can be just as stress-ridden and conflict-filled as the problem of scarce resources. We examine both of these stormy issues, then look at the unique manner in which couples address them when they bring children from a previous relationship, or a project from a previous time in their lives, to the relationship.
As we did in Chapter Three, we rely heavily in this chapter on the interviews done with couples who have been committed to one another in an intimate relationship for many years. We conclude this chapter by drawing once more on observations that participants in our Nevada County, California, Sage Leadership Project have made about Generativity One.
Engaging in Generativity One When Raising Children
Child-raising or attending to a project is a major, energy-consuming part of an individual’s or couple’s life. When children are young or when a project is still in its fledgling state, most of Eric Erikson’s other life stages take a backseat. Rebecca, for instance, described a typical day in the lives that she and Bill lead:
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Three year-old Calvin gets up about 5:30 or 6:00 and wants to watch cartoons. Bill gets up with the kids, and I sleep until 7:30 or 8:00. We are trying to encourage four month old Natalie to take a bottle. I am usually up with her one or two times in the night. When I get up in the morning, we mutually get the kids dressed and fed and take turns getting them to the places where they will spend their day. Bill goes to work and comes home around 6:00. I have Natalie most all the time and my days are focused on the household and the children. By 9 pm the children are in bed. We read, we talk, we have sex, Bill watches TV, and we go to sleep.