Home Concepts Adult Development V. Generativity in Four Acts: Expanding and Extending Our Region of Care

V. Generativity in Four Acts: Expanding and Extending Our Region of Care

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William Bergquist and Gary Quehl

Generativity is clearly a multi-dimensional concept with many different manifestations; nevertheless, we propose that each of the four roles tends to be center stage at a specific time in our life. Following is a preview of the prominent role of generativity being played most often at specific times in our life.

Early Adulthood

There is a period early in adulthood when we attempt to balance a commitment to both love and work. It’s a time of life when the generative role includes parenting our children or parenting a specific project or job in an organization. This generative role often continues to show-up in our life through continuing and changing relationships with our children and through the shifting nature of the projects or jobs we engage in organizations. The prevailing motivations are based in Generativity One: a focus on direct and sustained care for someone or something that is immediate (close to us in terms of both space and time).

Early Middle Adulthood

This role tends to be played-out during the middle years of our life when we are moving into a position of experience, expertise, or influence in an organization. This generative role focuses on being a mentor to younger or less experienced members of the organization and also involves us as monitors, mobilizers, and motivators. This is the original notion of “generativity.” In some sense, we become a grandparent in our organization and frequently become an actual grandparent in our personal life. Much of the gratification comes not from personal achievement and advancement; rather, it comes from fostering the growth and achievement of other people – and the next generation (including our own children) being successful. As in the case of the first generative role, this second role of generativity frequently remains salient later our life. With the prevailing motivations of Generativity Two, we expand our caring to people outside our family. We mentor and lead. We move from individual success to broader significance, at least within our own sphere of influence and control.

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