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

VIII.Generativity One: Raising Children and Engaging Projects

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Dave listened patiently to Kathy when she expressed her fears that the money was being used for alcohol and drugs. His children, however, claimed that Kathy was just trying to ensure that their father kept all of his money for her and, contrary to her allegations, they were not spending money on alcohol and drugs. Dave found himself again caught between his children and wife. Kathy and Dave decided that Dave’s daughter would continue to receive money, but only a fraction of the original amount that Dave provided. Since his son enlisted in the Navy, Kathy believed that he no longer needed financial support from his father. Dave agreed. In addition, Kathy and Dave decided to pool their incomes during this time to pay jointly for the mortgage on the house (which Dave had previously owned with his first wife) and any other expenditures.

Unfortunately, Kathy began to grow very dissatisfied with her work environment. She left her job and could not find another. She soon found that being at home was very isolating. In addition, Dave now provided all of the income for both of them. Thus, while Kathy and Dave’s child-rearing and related financial issues were resolved for a short period of time, they soon faced new challenges regarding finances that impacted their ability to resolve issues associated with the parenting. They risked moving from a shared generativity to a shared and highly destructive stage of stagnation.

Child rearing often becomes even more complex and challenging when raising children alone.  Dottie had two children from a first marriage and did not want to have any more, despite being pregnant with Ricardo’s child. Dottie felt that her teenage son and daughter were “terrible.” Her daughter was still living with her and hated Ricardo and her son had just run away, first to live with his father and then to join the Army. Her pregnancy was a loaded event for Dottie. Her second marriage had been to a man who wanted children, although Dottie felt she could not handle more than the two children she already had. Ricardo had initially seemed willing to give up having his own children, but ultimately he left Dottie for a younger woman.

When Dottie became pregnant with Ricardo’s child, she knew she wanted to have an abortion. But she needed a lot of support from Ricardo about this decision. Ricardo, however, was unable to discuss the issue with Dottie. He didn’t want to influence her decision, he “couldn’t talk about it,” and he felt she had to decide for herself. Still stung by the rejection of her second husband, it was very difficult for Dottie to make the decision to have an abortion without Ricardo’s support. Ricardo became very angry when Dottie kept pushing him to discuss his feelings, and he decided to move out. Ricardo did not return. Dottie now faced the prospect of being a mother of three children. She was not feeling generative and became caught in an untenable state of despair and stagnation.

And here is different Generative One situation: Margie and Gene started living together at Margie’s residence within a few months after they first met. They chose to live in Margie’s house in large part because she was the primary parent of an eight year old boy and ten year old girl. Gene had been married twice before but had no children. Four years after they began living together, Margie and Gene decided to get married. While they raised Margie’s two children together, very little was said about these two children during our interview. Perhaps this was because they didn’t consider these children, now teenagers, to be a part of their own identity as a couple; instead, they were seen as part of Margie’s past life. We concluded that little Generativity One seemed to exist in this couple’s shared life. We found many similar examples in our interviews of children who seemed to be caught existing in limbo between several different relationships rather than being identified as central to one existing relationship.

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