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

IX. The Challenges and Benefits of Generativity One

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Children and mutual projects tend to draw in all Eriksonian stages. As a result, Generativity One is often the eye of the hurricane during stormy phases in the life of a person or couple. Consequently, child-rearing or project management was often identified as the central problem for a person or couple whom we interviewed. This was certainly the case with Caroline and Sam. They both indicated that their most intensive “serious talks together” had recently centered on family and child-rearing issues. About six weeks prior to the interview, Caroline had become very angry about Sam’s new job as a church promotional director. It was taking Sam away from their family more than she felt was necessary. Carolyn confronted him with her frustrations, citing what she termed his “lack of interest” in assuming his share of responsibility around the house and with the kids. She indicated that these problems needed to be fixed immediately or she was considering leaving him. Sam agreed that things had gotten out of hand, but noted that he had recently begun to structure time with Caroline and the kids. He listed the tasks he had recently assumed to demonstrate he had equal responsibilities in their home, but he didn’t seem to have a clear picture of what Caroline was left to do. She declined to comment further; they were both uncomfortable at this point. Clearly, they had work to do on this difficult issue.

Asking Caroline and Sam to describe a typical day with their parents, family, and friends did little to ease the tension at this point. Sam then took the lead by describing Thanksgiving Day: Caroline had refused to drive forty miles to spend the day with Sam’s mother. There had been arguments between his mother and Caroline about Christmas presents for the kids, and Caroline refused to spend the day with her. She was perfectly content for Sam to take the kids and leave her to herself for the day. It was agreed they would tell Sam’s mother that Caroline was ill. Caroline observed that this was classic cover-up and denial, but she seemed not to be concerned about how Sam’s mother would react to the fib.

Sam and Caroline’s church played a central role in the continuation and potential solution to their ongoing problems. On the one hand, the church provided them with support, friendships, and a sense of purpose in life. Their children had benefited greatly from the community and the education they received from the congregation. Yet, the sum total of their time outside work and family was consumed in church activities. Sam had his music programs and Caroline taught Sunday school. However, Caroline was less committed than Sam to volunteering her time to the Church, and she seemed resentful that their social life had never moved beyond the church. Clearly, the church wasn’t meeting all of Caroline’s needs, while Sam had everything invested in it. If Caroline wanted to remain with Sam, she had to be actively involved in the church. However, this contradiction was not discussable. Thus, a central issue in Caroline and Sam’s relationship and child raising was subject to considerable distortion and resentment by both partners. Caroline and Sam were at a crossroad in their relationship, and Caroline threatened to move out.

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