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

VIII.Generativity One: Raising Children and Engaging Projects

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As in the case of many couples who are in second major relationships, the problem of child-rearing for Kathy and Dave did not go away with their mutual decision not to have children. They began living together in Dave’s house shortly after they met and prior to their marriage. Dave and his first wife had been separated, and she had moved into her own place prior to the filing of divorce papers and the subsequent final divorce. Because his first wife had been very neglectful of both children, Dave retained custody of his two teenagers. Neither Dave nor Kathy anticipated difficulties with the children, which arose following Kathy’s entrance into his home. Both were caught up in their new-found love and had not looked realistically at the process of moving in together. Dave’s children presented the first major obstacle in their establishing a home together. Dave’s second fulfillment of generativity was being haunted by the remnants of his first fulfillment as a parent.

Kathy was not well received by Dave’s two children, for they challenged her as a potential mother figure. Dave felt he was not prepared to mediate between Kathy and his children, and he felt a strong obligation to his children. Like many men of his generation, Dave assumed Kathy would adapt easily to the role of mother.  Dave assumed that child-rearing was deeply embedded in the DNA of women, but Kathy never anticipated the duties of being a mother and resented Dave for imposing this function on her. As a result, Kathy moved out of Dave’s house into her own apartment for a while. Dave agreed to make other living arrangements for his two children; his son, recently graduated from high school, enlisted in the Navy, and his daughter went to live with her mother for the last year of high school. Kathy and Dave could now for the first time live alone together.

Problems continued to exist for Kathy and Dave, even though the children were now living elsewhere. The most important were financial, as is often the case for couples with children from previous relationships. Kathy believed that Dave’s children were demanding too much money from Dave, and that they were capable of working for extra money like many teenagers their age. In addition, while Dave was working his late shift as a truck driver, Kathy claimed his children spent many late evening hours out partying with the money their father provided them.

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