Occupying the periods between mid 30’s and mid 60’s, the middle adult years is where the famed “mid life crisis” often occurs. The unmet needs of childhood and adolescence finally rear their head and demand satisfaction. The mid life crisis is often referred to as “the second adolescence.” It is a period of reclaiming lost or undeveloped identity. It can be a radical period of transformation causing a great deal of upheaval in an established family. Separation, divorce, remarriage and blended families are not uncommon in this stage. Career change is likely. In today’s world more and more woman are now experiencing the freedom to question their needs and choices; they are having their own mid life crisis, adjusting their role in the family and embarking on careers of their own.
The traditional middle adult is generally established in his or her career. Choices as to “what do I want to be when I grow up” are no longer entertained. Work energy now is channeled towards productivity and longevity. The middle adult may be engaged in various community activities, service organizations or as a board member for social agencies.
The primary developmental need of middle adulthood is geared towards the family and the community. The father is the provider and the mother is the homemaker. Each has their own defined rules and roles. In today’s world, these roles have shifted and become somewhat blurred with dual family incomes and blended families. Some keywords that characterize this stage would be “caring,” “giving,” “helping,” and “community.” Personal needs are beginning to shift away from one’s own psychological development and towards the welfare of others. This is a shift towards the satisfaction of social/spiritual needs.
To help meet the needs of middle adulthood a person can:
- Recognize the shift in emphasis towards giving back, caring for others, productivity and the growing need to acknowledge the spiritual part of your being.
- If you find yourself in a midlife identity crisis, you can greatly benefit by seeing a professional counselor to help clarify the issues and provide objective feedback. No counselor worth his or her credentials will tell you what to do. A successful passage through a midlife crisis is dependent on difficult, personal, individual decisions.
- If your identity is relatively intact, accept who you have become and the limitations of that self. At this stage of life, options are less but momentum is greater. Utilize the training, education and experience accumulated to move you forward.
- Contribute to your family and your community, these are the major needs during this developmental stage. But, be careful not to overextend yourself in an attempt to compensate for shortcomings.
Adults in this phase of the journey who fail to meet the developmental needs of this stage could easily find themselves burned out, stagnating, self-absorbed and cynical.
The long haul through middle adulthood yields the golden years which can prove to be extremely rewarding.