Home Concepts Adult Development X. The Enduring Role of Generativity One

X. The Enduring Role of Generativity One

14 min read

Gary Quehl and William Bergquist

[Note: The complete book (Caring Deeply: Engaging the Four Roles of Life-Fulfilling Generativity) is available for purchase. Use the following link:  Caring Deeply.]

In prior essays, we borrowed primarily from previous research that we conducted with men and women who were involved in long term, intimate relationships—though we also introduced some insights from our Sage leaders as we addressed the role of Generativity One in the creation and maintenance of lifelong projects. Now, in this essay, we draw extensively on our work with coaching and consulting clients–men and women who were often experiencing the challenges of mid-life.

With regard to grand parenting and guardianship of an organization or project, we go beyond what we learned from our clients. Specifically, we make extensive use of our third source of insight: interviews from our California Western Nevada County Sage Leadership Project. We also turn to the narratives offered by our four Featured Players. Before turning to these matters, we focus first on the often-challenging transition from being parents of children and adolescents to being parents of mature offspring.

We Continue to Parent

Generativity One does not disappear as we grow older: That is one of the dominant themes in this set of essays, and we believe it provides an important contribution to the literature on generativity. The first role of generativity not only doesn’t go away; it provides many of us with an opportunity to “do it better” as we grow older. Many years ago, Barry Osherson (1986) wrote about the “wounded father” and poignantly described the difficult relationship that often exists between the father and his children during the early years of parenthood. He writes about the alienation that has existed with the father who worked a full day in a large factory and came home every evening and wanted to be “left alone” to recuperate. This narrative seems embedded in the 20th Century account of “organization men” and “men in gray flannel suits”, as well as the “working stiffs” who spent their lives on an assembly line. This storyline also seems relevant for working men and women of the 21st Century who are deeply engaged in their work— and who are impacted by the Internet and digital communication technologies. They often find no boundaries between their work life and home life. (Bergquist, 1993).

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