Home Concepts Adult Development VIII.Generativity One: Raising Children and Engaging Projects

VIII.Generativity One: Raising Children and Engaging Projects

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This brief summary about the complex relationship between a divorced father and his children is replicated in the lives of many of today’s men and women. The children stay with one parent and spend time with their other parent only on weekends or only a few times each year. It is often a devastating experience for both parents, and particularly for the parent who does not have primary custody of the children. The dream of Generativity One is often shattered because the aspiration of the parent to be with his or her children all of the time while they are growing up is set aside. If the parent with custody moves away with the children, or if the parent without custody moves elsewhere, the separation generates difficult choices: should the parent without custody stay in the community where the children live or move to the same community as the parent with custody? How much of a sacrifice should the divorced parent make – especially given the anger and sense of betrayal that are often experienced by both parents.

There is another ingredient that plays out in the life of Dale as a parent. After the divorce, his children occasionally visited him in Chicago, and he sometimes visited them in Ohio; but he never really had a full-time “home” with his children. This resulted in a generativity gap.  Best understood, Generativity One most often is envisioned and enacted in a highly tangible manner:  “I provide a home. I provide security. I am there to tuck them in bed every evening.” True, some degree of parenting security for children is provided through child support or regular alimony payments, but this is simply not the same thing as full-time Generativity One. As one of our other community Sage leaders noted, “It’s not just a matter of providing a ‘home’ for my children; there is also the absence of a complete family.” He reported that the children would stay at his home, but at the end of the day there was still someone “outside” his home–namely, his ex-wife. No matter how much he was enraged by his ex-spouse, her absence was “haunting”— at least until there was a second person in his life who helped to care for his children. This is the topic to which we now turn.

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