Every human being aspires to leave a positive legacy in human development. According to Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, each stage of human development exposes an individual to a psychosocial crisis, which can have a huge impact on personality development and life perspective. Middle and late adulthood mainly describe adulthood conflict characterized by generativity vs. stagnation and integrity vs. despair, respectively. According to Syed and McLean (2017), individuals generate new ideas, products, and new beings in middle adulthood. During the generativity stage, individuals establish family and career and focus on leaving a positive legacy themselves. Successful attainment of generativity leads to the virtue of care, and individuals focus on taking care of the persons, products, and ideas generated. Failure to self-generation and negative development leads to a sense of stagnation. An inspirational figure in the generativity stage that I look up to is Mr. Cook, a 52-year-old family friend and hardworking lawyer.
According to Erik Erickson, two critical roles that define a person’s generativity are parenting roles and occupational careers. For Mr. Cook, family life is his most intimate base of social relationships. Mr. Cook has a wife and three children aged 18, 12, and 5 years. His primary responsibilities include parenting and taking care of his marriage. All his children are schooling, with the eldest currently studying at Maryland University. He has bought his second home and claims to be living happily with his family. Mr. Cook pays for his family bills and school fees for all his children. Every year he takes his family for a vacation in different countries. He is dedicated to protecting his family and raising independent and industrious children. Mr. Cook has an established career in law. He owns a law firm and is currently pursuing his PhD in law to become a barrister. Mr. Cook has 19 years of experience in law and has worked in different roles such as supervisor and manager. Currently, he is the manager at his law firm. Mr. Cook is attached to his job and works for 16 hours per day. Mr. Cook believes in the virtue of equality for all people and fights against discrimination in his society. He runs a campaign dubbed” All deserve equal chances and opportunities” to fight against inequality in society.
Mr. Cook contributes positively to community growth through charity events and mentorship programs. Mr. Cook contributes to charity for the orphaned and widows and gives back to society financially and intellectually. He is a mentor to his eldest daughter and other young adolescents. Mr. Cook leads a group of young adolescents focused on equipping them with life skills needed to overcome life challenges such as substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and suicide. Mr. Cook and his friends visit the elderly during the Christmas holidays and gift them clothes and foodstuffs.
Mr. Cook also takes good care of his health and his family by encouraging healthy lifestyles such as daily physical exercise and consuming healthy meals. He and his family exercise for one hour every morning from 5 am-6 am. Mr. Cook also encourages his family members to drink at least two gallons of water per day and eat many fruits and vegetables. He also undergoes health screening twice per year to ensure better health.
How Actions Reflect Mr. Cook’s Perspective
Mr. Cook’s generativity is premised on his principles of building positive relationships, enhanced productivity, life fulfillment, community participation, and good health. For Mr. Cook, family and parenting are essential tools for making a difference. He takes pride in his family and children, and he believes he has built a happy family and well-disciplined and independent children. A happy family provides him with a sense of belonging, and taking care of his children, friends, and others in society is the only way to leave a positive impact. He feels included in community projects through participation in charity and social organizations. A systematic review by Cordier et al. (2017) shows that social participation assists in the development of generativity by creating a sense of inclusion. Mr. Cook engages in different social activities that make him part of the larger community.
Mr. Cook’s work ethic and career progress describe his perspective on productivity. Various accomplishments at the law firm and pursuance of a PhD in law provide Mr. Cook with a sense of accomplishment and pride, motivating him to remain productive. Increased productivity in his personal life and work mirrors his participatory role in society. According to Erik Erikson, generativity is focused on making positive contributions to achieve greater fulfillment in life. Mr. Cook’s’ contribution to family, work, and community reflect successful generativity. His efforts will positively impact young adolescents, their children, the workplace, and the community. Mr. Cook’s contributions give him a sense of meaning, enabling him to feel that his accomplishments and achievements at individual, family, and community levels have a lasting impact on the world.
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Mr. Cook’s journey has taught me that a person’s legacy in the world is determined by their contributions to their families and the community at large. His actions motivate me to become a better person by assuming responsibilities, learning new skills, increasing social participation and mentoring others. I also aspire to have healthy relationships with others and obtain a sense of control over my life.
Generativity and Integrity
Generativity enhances the desire for immortality and integrity by providing life with purpose and symbolic immortality. According to Erikson’s theory, integrity is attained through reflecting on the past through a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment (Syed and McLean, 2017). Successful formation of positive relationships, work accomplishments, and positive contributions to the world during the generativity stage provide people with a sense of integrity. Contributing to something bigger than the self, such as family and society, enables people to connect with their culture, thereby enhancing their sense of immortality.
Cordier, R., Milbourn, B., Martin, R., Buchanan, A., Chung, D., & Speyer, R. (2017). A systematic review evaluating the psychometric properties of measures of social inclusion. PloS one, 12(6), e0179109. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0179109 Syed, M., & McLean, K. C. (2017). Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. https://psyarxiv.com/zf35d/