Home Concepts Adult Development XVI Moving from Generativity Two to Generativity Three: Old Roles and Voices in New Settings

XVI Moving from Generativity Two to Generativity Three: Old Roles and Voices in New Settings

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William Bergquist and Gary Quehl

Before moving on to Generativity Three and Four, we want to review ways in which a transition from Generativity Two occurs. As in the case of Generativity One, the second generativity role may be with us throughout our adult lives. It might not always be operating in the spotlight, but it can play a secondary role to Generativity Three and Generativity Four. Somewhere between the spotlight and this supporting role is our role as grandparent in the organization with which we are affiliated.

We begin with the grand parenting role and the way in which we are honored (or not) in that role. We then turn to a strong, underlying transition that occurs in the lives most of us lead as mid-centurions (men and women between 50 and 70 years of age). We start listening to voices from various rooms in our psyche that have remained mute for many years. These voices often lead us to Generativity Three and Four. The voices can also be denied or ignored for many years, and this often leads us to stagnation. So, we need to pay attention. We identify mid-centurions as the “men and women of Autumn” who are generative rather than being stagnate. Like the glorious foliage of the Fall season, these Autumnal women and men are more than living out the middle and late stages of life. They are bursting with colorful and generative perspectives and deeply caring actions.

Grand Parenting Organizations

During our late midlife years, we often serve in a quasi-parental role as mentors, motivators, mediators, monitors and motivators to other members of our organization. And we also sometimes act as grandparents to these members and to our entire department, program, or organization. This is especially the case if we are about to retire or have already retired. In many instances, we no longer are a “spark plug” or source of new ideas and innovations—even if we have worked in an organization or community for many years. We may still have many innovative ideas, but the organization or community tends to look to younger and more energetic members to introduce or implement new programs. Some members of the organization, at times, might even consider their older colleagues as barriers to change. Older employees are part of the organizational “remnant,” representing the old values and ways of doing things. They are now the ones who tell stories about the “good old days” and serve the role of historian and archivist (as you will see, a role that is closely associated with Generativity Three). These men and women are now figurehead potentates rather than functional CEOs or prime ministers.

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