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Stages in the Family-Life Cycle "Launching Phase"

PRM639 Family Development Carter, Ch. 17

Danelle Puente

on 11 April 2011

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Transcript of Stages in the Family-Life Cycle "Launching Phase"

Presentation by
Danelle Puente & Isaac Almaguer "Launching Phase" Stages in the
Family-Life Cycle Myths of Midlife "Launching Children" "Empty Nest" "Midlife Crisis" This is when the end of a meaningful life takes place. Many times is seen as a period of decline, depression and death. Role of child rearing is complete Worse off than men Men Are disconnected from their unfulfilled wife Viewed more optimistically Marriage is assumed to be at the low point of satisfaction. Women Thought of as rattling through an empty house to try and make a . life for themselves. 2. A study of 3,000 adults found that empty nesters were actually less depressed than adults living with children or those who never had children 4. Men go through a period of reassessment at midlife, and most of them experience an increase in their capacity for relationship skills and an interest in connecting with family members. The Graying of America and the Midlife Stage Awareness of Mortality The Impact of Class and Culture 1. Midlifers who have launched their children report more enjoyment of life and more happiness in their marriages than do people the same age who have children at home. 3. Women anticipate and welcome the departure of their children from the home and cope even better than men do with this stage of the life cycle. Middle Age: implies that we are living longer What is Launching? Majority of World War II baby boomers are now entering middle age Baby boomers have higher expectations than previous generation midlifers and small families As a result, families will finish the launching phase earlier longer post-launch period To adapt to changes over a 20-25 year period, many will reevaluate roles in: Family Marriage Work Support Systems Life Expectations Previously, human development was thought to stabilize in early adulthood Many begin to measure their position in the life cycle by how much time they have left rather than time spent thus far; changing priorities (Neugarten) Erikson and Levinson hold that development occurs throughout life and one must form life meaning and purpose during midlife stage, called "generativity" reassessment expected Class Culture Midlife is pictured as "the prime of life" (applies only to middle and upper socioeconomic classes - lower socioeconomic classes expect decreasing job opportunities) Having little economic automony means no reevaluation of the life course nor development of new plans and dreams Gallagher suggests the idea of a midlife crisis is only applicable to middle and upper classes Culture, ethnic identification and norms strongly influence how families approach midlife tasks Examples: Anglo-American and Polish children are expected to establish independence with less parental help than Italian or Brazilian families Greek families do not expect women to find emplayment while Jewish families do. African-American families may never experience an "empty nest" as they place high value on family interconnectedness. Dutch families readily accept adult children living at home more than German families do Gender Issues:
Men and Women at Midlife Baby Boomer Values A New Life Cycle Stage The most recently identified stage (1978) Currently the longest phase in the life cycle - approximately age 46-65 (includes launching the first child to retirement) Phase length may increase as health care and longevity increase Many people begin new families in midlife rather than launching them. NOTE: In 1963, Betty Friedan published "The Feminine Mystique," which introduced them to the sexual revolution reared with traditional values and gender role expectations: to be hetrosexual, find a spouse, marry early, and if female - stay home male entitlement strongly permeated their socialization women were among the first to respond to this prescription for social change. for the first time, women attended college, entered the full-time workforce, and got divorced in great numbers. Middle Aged Women:
Postmenopausal Zest! Although women do experience changes and may feel a sense of discomfort and/or loss, the most commonly expressed feeling is (Shapiro, 1996) relief! The media depicts the physical changes associated with monopause as unbearably uncomfortable, and the loss of fertility is thought to trigger a preoccupation with mortality that leads to depression. Research shows that most women anticipate and welcome the arrival of menopause 90 percent of menopausal women report no significant changes in anger, anxiety, depression, or self-consciousness related to menopause (Gallagher, 1993). Nonetheless, 75 percent of menopausal women do notice some physical changes related to menopausal hormonal shifts, such as hot flashes, weight gain, increased vulnerability to osteoporosis, and changes in cognitive processing (Leiblum, 1990; Warga, 1997). Contrary to the negative stereotype of menopause as a time of constriction, many women actually experience it as a catalyst for change and growth. Women describe themselves as feeling: more assertive confident sexually freer energetic The Male Midlife Crisis Unlike women, whose postlaunch wake-up call leads to an energized zest for life, men's experience of mortality is a lengthy, internal process. By age 40, men begin to experience a gradual series of physical changes that do not really bring them much below their maximal level of functioning. However, these changes are significant enough to notice such as: baldness paunchiness wrinkles According to a theory by Levinson (1978), every man must grieve and accept the symbolic death of the youthful hero in himself and then work through a process of reevaluation and reassessment. OUT OF SYNC Men Women Focus more intensely on their careers to enable that one last shot at success. Slowly they become more introspective as they seriously reassess their lives. This process is triggered by: physical signs of the aging process, a promotion or failure at work, a retirement package, a personal or family illness, or a death. Get energized before the launching phase. Anticipating their children leaving home several years before it actually takes place, allows women to envision new plans for themselves. Feel like there is a big world outside waiting for them and are excited to go back to school, begin new jobs, or return to full-time employment. Launching Children: What It Feels Like The over-all experience is different for fathers and mothers. There may be mixed feelings of happiness and sorrow at the loss of active parenting. After a short time, mothers feel relieved, revitalized, and ready for their own launching. As their children are leaving home, fathers are beginning to be ready to spend less time at work and more time with their families. The launching phase might be more problematic for men because they often find themselves without either their wives or children at home when they want them. Midlife Marriages Research Suggests That... 1. Marital happiness reaches its peak during midlife.

2. Two of the three most dramatic divorce peaks of the life cycle occur during midlife.
Launching children is the most significant factor related to midlife marital status. PEAK Happiness at its Marital Presence of children has not been found to correlate with marital happiness in any age group Marital happiness peaks after the wedding and during launching stage Removal of stress

Simplified household routines

Focus moves from children to each other

Higher relationship expectation due to awareness of time passing

Nature of marriage changes during midlife
(now characterized by friendship, companionship, equality, tolerance, and shared interests) Studies show that launching
children is good for marriages
and spouses' feeling of well-being. Reasons: Midlife Sexual Love Physical changes during midlife necessitate changes in a couple's sex life Men's reactions depend on self-esteem and ability to accept the need for affection. Bodies show obvious signs of age, however most perceive their bodies younger than they are, resulting in little significant inhibition by phyiscal signs of aging. With children gone, partners are less inhibited and preoccupied, particularly women. Men have increased vulnerability and expressiveness, women are more willing to express their needs. After many years of marriage, partners are more patient and tolerant of one another. Midlife Divorce The High Divorce Rate at Midlife 1995 - 14% of population divorced between ages 40-54 (11% increase from 1985) Divorce peaks after 15-18 years and 25-28 years of marriage. 1950s - only 4% of marriages over 15 years ended in divorce. 1980s - 25% of marriages over 15 years ended in divorce. 1970 - 1.5 million people are divorced and have not remarried 1991 - 6.1 million people are divorced and have not remarried. 1993 - 75% of those in midlife still married or have partners. Why After All Those Years? 85% of divorces instigated by women After launching, some couples realize their marriage is empty after years of ignoring differences, concealing feelings, or distancing from one another. Some marriages require children to survive. Two factors influence midlife divorce: 1. The structural change of the family creates additional freedom, time, finances, and emotional focus
opportunity for change.

2. One or both are motivated to divorce by the thought of living the remainder of life alone with a stranger or antagonist. Women On Their Own "Whereas divorcing women are likely to discover their capacity for independence, divorcing men are likely to discover their dependence." -Terri Apter Women do better than men on their own. Money management

Fulfilling the need for physical affection and sexual gratification

Overcoming the sense of deprivation

Accepting the possibility of life without a sexual partner Divorce is a crisis, causing confusion, disillusionment, or being separated from a family. Midlife women have a larger support system of friends and family, enabling them to recover more quickly and be more likely to use the divorce as a spark for personal growth. Primary challenges: Midlifers At Work Women find meaning and pleasure in their career. Work provides women with a new sense of community. Women are clouded by the endurance of sexual discrimination. Salaries of women are much lower than those of men's salaries. Men are still strongly career focused, but begin to reprioritize marital satisfaction as a central factor to their happiness. Of 4,000 male executives, 68% admitted they had neglected their families for their careers. Terminations may result in an initial sense of betrayal, disillusionment, and confusion. This is true of men who viewed themselves as good compan en and might fear that they may no longer be unemployable because of their age, type of experience, and high salary level. Redefining Family Relationships at Midlife The Sandwich Generation Death of Parents Managing the death of parents is an expected task in midlife Tasks inherent to midlife phase may be influential on death-of-parent resolution Accepting one's own mortality is a crucial task of midlife (triggers reassessment) Roles in families are redefined as midlifers become heads of families and are expected to maintain family values, contact, guidance, and resolving past issues with siblings Self-perception may change, causing some to be more independent individuals and be more connected to others Unresolved issues may resurface later if not attended to Redefining Relationships
Adult Children
Boomerang Kids Beginning to see their children as adults and relating to them as such does not happen automatically Research has found that relationships between parents and children become more loving and close after launching Adult children in the home can be particularly stressful because parents expected freedom to come with the children leaving 1. Primary factor is parent's view of the adult child at home, which is influenced by class and ethnicity

2. Stress is lessened the more automomous the child is and if he or she is working or going to school Accepting the Expansion of Family through Marriage and Grandchildren As families contract due to death of parents and launching children, they also grow through marriage and the birth of grandchildren, which families must learn to incorporate. Blending of families is easier if ethnic, class, and religious values are shared or if open to differences. If a child marries with the intention of distancing from parents, blending becomes complicated, parents feel unwanted, and over/underinvolvement of parents or cutoff may result; most difficult problems usually occur between womenof the family. Grandparenting is described as the greatest reward of midlife. As their children raise children of their own, they reenact significant life cycle traditions Difficulties occur if grandparents or parent are divorced or remarried over invitation to family events, who the "real" grandparents are, and continued visitation of in-laws. Further difficulty of midlife occurs if adult children are debilitated by drug abuse or illness and parents are obligated to raise their grandchildren. Relations With Siblings And Other Kin Relationships with siblings lasts longer than any other family relationship, including parents, spouses, or children, usually enduring throughout life. Midlife siblings draw together as parents, aunts, and uncles and assume the place of the older generation as parents and grandparents pass. Providing care to aging parents is a potential stressor as it is often not distributed equally; either oldest or closest sister usually assumes the role of primary caregiver. Friendship at Midlife Friendships become highly important once again as children are no longer the focus
Long-term friends provide sense of belonging, new friends provide new interests. Friendships are highly valued at midlife due to increased awareness of mortality. Summing it up... Midlife is the longest phase of the life cycle This is a time of major family reconstructuring. Families will need to adjust to the realignments and redefinitions of roles that result from these reconstructurings. Rather than being a time of winding down, midlife is a long life cycle stage that can be a fertile time for new options, growth, and change..
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