Home Concepts Adult Development IX. The Challenges and Benefits of Generativity One

IX. The Challenges and Benefits of Generativity One

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The Rules Governing Generativity One

What are the rules of the game when it comes to raising kids or starting a major project? And how do we set priorities and conduct ourselves? Rule-setting is particularly difficult and critical when the decision is jointly made by both members of a couple—as it often is with Generativity One. Even when a couple has arrived at a comfortable decision about  the priority they will assign in their lives to the raising of children, they still must find common ground on the rules of conduct and type and degree of discipline they will exert in raising their children or building a project together. Frequently, voices from previous points in their lives (typically, their own childhood) come to the fore. Grown men and women hear themselves mouth the words and warnings they heard from their parent when young; words and warnings they once vowed never to use themselves! Men and women who find themselves agreeing on most issues in their lives (e.g., politics, music, literature, recreation) suddenly find themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to raising children. More often, partners know that they have some differences of opinion about raising children, having come from very different families; however, they often don’t realize how deeply engrained these patterns of behavior are and how frustrating it can be to raise children with another person who is absolutely “nuts” (usually either a Nazi or an anarchist!) regarding the raising of children.

Bea certainly was aware that Donald came from a tight-knit Sicilian family, and Donald knew that Bea came from a cold, authoritarian family of German descent. They knew this because they shared a common interest in escaping from these repressive backgrounds, and because Bea had already struggled with a mother-in-law who told her how to cook, do the laundry, and arrange the furniture. Bea’s in-laws in fact had bought the furniture for their new home and had it delivered as a surprise. However, neither Bea nor Donald were prepared for the impact of four children who were born about a year apart. They strongly disagreed on how to raise their four girls. Donald tended to be very demonstrative and permissive, like his Sicilian parents, whereas Bea tended to be a disciplinarian. They soon learned, despite their deepest intentions, that they were repeating the same child-rearing patterns as their parents.

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