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Psychosocial Development in Middle Adulthood

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  1. Psychosocial Development in Middle Adulthood Chapter 16 © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  2. Did You Know… • The idea of a midlife crises has been largely discredited, and it is fairly unusual to have one? • Marital satisfaction generally bottoms in early middle age and peaks when children are grown? • The most common reason for midlife divorce is partner abuse? • Most women find an “empty nest” liberating? © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  3. Normative Stage Models: Carl Jung • First to theorize about adult development • Healthy midlife includes individuation • Emergence of true self through balance of the whole personality • Two difficult but necessary tasks of middle age • Giving up image of youth • Acknowledging mortality © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  4. Erik Erikson:Generativity v. Stagnation • Generativity • Concern for guiding the next generation • Virtue of ‘care’ • Stagnation • People who do not find an outlet for generativity become self-indulgent or stagnant © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  5. Forms of Generativity • Teaching and mentorship • Parenting and grandparenting • Productivity or creativity • “Self generation” or self-development © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  6. Interiority: Men in Middle Life • Vaillant and Levinson studies • An introspective tendency at midlife • A restructuring of life toward maintaining relationships • Overall, men went from occupational striving, to mellowing and stability © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  7. The Midlife Crisis • Many people feel & observe personality changes that occur in middle age • Is there such as thing as a midlife crises? © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  8. The Midlife Crisis • Stressful crisis of identity • Second adolescence • Triggered by • Review of one’s life • Awareness of mortality • However, “crisis” may not be the correct term. It seems to be as stressful as any other period. It seems to be more of a “midlife review” or turning point. © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  9. Do People Really Have Midlife Crises? • Occurrence is rare • Some suffer turmoil, others feel at their peak • Least likely among those who: • Able to adapt to stress • Have a sense of mastery and control • Midlife is just one of many transitions • Middle age may be stressful • But no more than other stages of life © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  10. Turning Points © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  11. Turning Points • Psychological transitions that involve significant change in person’s life • Involves introspective review and reappraisal of values • May bring developmental deadlines • Time constraints on life events © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  12. Identity and Middle Age • Life-course perspective: • Generativity is affected by social roles and their timing • Reaching generativity by middle age tends to lead to psychological health • Volunteering or being politically active is an expression of communal generativity © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  13. Men’s Gender Identity • Gender crossover: reversal of roles • In middle age, many men become more interested in: • Expression of feelings • Intimate relationships • Nurturing • Traits traditionally labeled as feminine © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  14. Women’s Gender Identity • In middle age, many women become more : • Assertive • Self-confident • Achievement-oriented • Characteristics traditionally labeled as masculine © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  15. Emotionality in Midlife • Decline of negative emotions • Anger • Fear • In late adulthood, both men and women see a surge in positive emotions • Although women slightly more negative at all ages © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  16. Life Satisfaction:Coping and Adapting • Most people report being satisfied with life, regardless of age • Positive emotions from pleasant memories tend to persist • Negative emotions from unpleasant memories tend to fade © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  17. Factors that Influence Happiness • Social Support • Friends • Spouse • Being extraverted and conscientious • Quality of work and leisure • Feeling grateful or thankful © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  18. Ryff’s Dimensions of Well-Being • Self-acceptance • Positive relations with others • Autonomy • Environmental mastery • Purpose in life • Personal growth © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  19. Social Well-Being The quality of a person’s self-reported relationships with other people: • Neighborhood • Community © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  20. Five Dimensions of Social Well-Being © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  21. Generativity and Well-Being • The best adjusted people are generally the most generative • Leaders in organizations and communities • Responsible for others at work and with family • Generous with charities © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  22. Theories of Social Contact: Social Convoy Theory People move through life surrounded by social convoys • Circles of close friends and family members on whom they rely for assistance • In return, they offer care, support and concern © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  23. Theories of Social Contact: Socioemotional Selectivity Theory Social interaction has 3 main goals: 1. Source of information 2. Helps develop a sense of self 3. Source of comfort or well-being © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  24. Marriage • Couples tend to be more satisfied at 35-44 years of marriage than during first four • Maritial satisfaction tends to bottom out early in middle age • When many couples have teenagers © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  25. Benefits of Marriage • Social support • Easier to accumulate wealth • Better physical and mental health • Encouragement of healthy behaviors • Being single is hardest on midlife men © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  26. Cohabitation and Mental Health • Men: More depressed than married counterparts • Women: No differences in mental health from married counterparts • Why the gender difference? • Women may want intimacy without obligation of caring for a husband • Men may benefit from the kind of care wives traditionally provide © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  27. Marital Capital Financial and emotional benefits of marriage • Becomes difficult to give up • Makes long-standing marriages less likely to break up • Middle-aged women tend to lose the most marital capital if they divorce © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  28. Gay and Lesbian Relationships in Midlife • Middle-aged gays and lesbians grew up when homosexuality was considered mental illness • Issues surrounding identity more complicated than for younger counterparts • Many may be openly gay for first time in their lives • Gay couples do better and are stronger if they have social support © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  29. Friendships in Midlife • Social networks are smaller and more intimate • Friendships are an especially strong source of support for women • Quality of time makes up for lack of quantity of time spent with friends • Conflicts tend to center around values, beliefs and lifestyles © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  30. Relationships withMature Children Today, middle age parents have to deal with: • Adult children still living at home • Adult children returning to live at home • Concern over “How did my child turn out?” © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  31. Middle-Aged Parents with Adolescent Children • Teens usually have middle-aged parents • For parents, this period is usually a time of: • Questioning • Reappraisal • Diminished well-being • Mix of positive and negative emotions © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  32. The Empty Nest A transition period when the youngest child leaves home • Women heavily invested in mothering typically find this transition difficult • Most women find the transition liberating Relief from the “chronic emergencies” of parenthood © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  33. Good marriages Empty nest may start a ‘second honeymoon’ phase Shaky marriages May stress marriage, lead to divorce Empty Nest and Marital Satisfaction © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  34. Parenting Grown Children • Parents tend to give more support as the children are establishing careers and families. • Some parents have troubles treating the children as adults. • Most conflicts at this stage can be solved with open airing of feelings. © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  35. The Cluttered Nest • What happens when the nest doesn’t empty when it should or unexpectedly refills? • Also called • Revolving door syndrome • Boomerang phenomenon • Has become more common as more adults return home • Most likely to return: • Men • Single • Divorced or separated © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  36. Aging Parents:Contact and Mutual Help • Most middle-aged adults have affectionate relationships with their parents • Frequent contact and mutual help is typical • A life stage of ‘filial maturity’ • Middle-aged children accepting and meeting their parents’ dependency needs • A healthy outcome of ‘filial crisis’ • Middle-aged adults balancing love and duty for their parents © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  37. Caring for Aging Parents • When older people become infirm, it can strain the relationship • Many elders receive long-term care in the home of the caregiver Typically, a daughter takes caregiver role © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  38. Strains of Caring for Parents • Caregiving is a physical, mental and financial burden • Sandwich generation - caring for both elderly parents and own children • Stressful caring for physical ailments, as well as mental ailments, like dementia • Caring for demented parent can be agonizingly isolating • Well-being is likely to suffer • Caregiver burnout © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  39. Relationships with Siblings • Often takes the form of an hourglass • Most contact is at the two ends – childhood and late adulthood • Although some studies show decrease in contact throughout adulthood • Caring for aging parents can bring siblings closer or cause resentment © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  40. Grandparenthood • Grandparenting often begins before the end of active parenting • Average grandparent: • Starts at age 45 • Has 6 grandchildren • Still has living parents © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  41. The Grandparents’ Role • 68% see at least one grandchild every 2 weeks • Grandmothers tend to be ‘kinkeepers’ • Keep in touch with the grandchildren • Have warmer relationships than grandfathers • Grandparents are the nation’s primary childcare providers • Many spend money on educational needs of grandchildren © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  42. Common Activities with Grandchildren • Having dinner together • Watching TV • Going shopping • Reading together • Exercise and sports © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  43. Grandparenting after ParentalDivorce or Remarriage After grandchildren’s parents divorce: • Maternal grandparents: tend to have more contact with grandchildren • Paternal grandparents: Remarriage of mother further decreases chances for contact © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  44. Raising Grandchildren: Skip-Generation Families • Many grandparents are sole caregivers of grandchildren • Parents unable to care for children due to: • Teenage pregnancy • Substance abuse • Illness • Divorce • Death • Kinship care © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

  45. Effects of ‘Parenting by Default’ Unplanned surrogate parenting is draining: • Physically • Emotionally • Generation gap can be larger than between parents and children • Unclear legal rights may cause complications • Financially • Many have to abandon leisure and retirement pursuits © 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc