Middle adulthood is the age between the young adulthood and the old age. There have been several attempts to define this life stages since it occupies more than three quarter of the lifespan of an individual. Middle adulthood has been described to occupy the age between 45 and 60 years (Dacey and Travers, 2005). However, there has not been a consensus on the exact age that is occupied by this period. For example the United States census defines the middle adulthood as the period between 35 to 54 years, Erickson, how is a renown theorist defined it as period between 40 and 65 years while Brian Boyle, who is also a theorist defines it as a period between 35 and 60 years. Despite the difference in the age definition, middle adulthood is recognized as the period between young adulthood and the onset of old age.
In order to understand the changes that occur in this period of life, we are going to interview Mrs. Doyle who is a teacher. We will relate her experience and perception about middle adulthood in order to understand this life stage well.
Middle adulthood according to Mrs. Doyle
Other than her adolescent, the middle adulthood has been one of the most interesting and perplexing life stage in Mrs. Doyle life. It has been one of the most satisfying periods of her life, yet it has been filled with different crisis and challenges. She has achieved a lot at this stage but she feels that some of the things she dreamt of achieving in life seem unachievable and therefore success has been obstructed by frustrations. However, Mrs. Doyle rests her case by looking at her successes rather than her failure, being quite optimistic amidst the life crisis.
At 43, Mrs. Doyle feels she is at the height of her life. She confides that this is the most interesting stages in her life. There are many factors that makes this stage the most interesting in her entire life but most important has been the joy she draws to see her children climb the ladders of success in life (Dacey and Travers, 2005). Like any other mother, Mrs. Doyle draws her satisfaction and interest in life from her two children who have been everything to her. Apart from the children, Mrs. Doyle is also happy with the achievement in her career as she is a respected teacher and heads the local teachers association. “My children are all I have, my career keeps me busy, and people around me makes me complete” are the word that Mrs. Doyle use to express her satisfaction in life.
However, her satisfaction in life is sometimes obstructed by different challenges that she faces in life (Dacey and Travers, 2005). One of the greatest challenges has been providing for her family as a single parent. According to Mrs. Doyle, her family needs have far exceeded her income and she has to borrow loans to keep her children in higher learning institution. “Like any other single mother, I have a great challenge providing for my children. They want to do medicine, I cannot afford. Sometimes I feel frustrated” laments Mrs. Doyle. Mrs. Doyle had been married to Mr. Doyle for 13 years before his life ended in a tragic road accident. She had to inherit the burden of bringing up the children alone from her meager income but she has always strived to provide the best for them. She is also facing another challenge from coping with the changes in her life.
From her own words, Mrs. Doyle has had different accomplishment in life. Her greatest achievement has been bringing up her children and providing the best education she could. When her husband died, the family had nothing since her husband worked in a local mine while Mrs. Doyle was still at school. She has been able to pay mortgage for the family house. She has taken her children to higher institutions of learning and both will be graduating in one year time. “There is nothing I would have dreamt of in this stage of life, rather than what I have achieved for my family,” she concludes on her life achievement. To sum up her feelings about this stage of her life, Mrs. Doyle says “it’s the peak of my life, may be I have lived for what I will live later in life”.
Mrs. Doyle feels that there are different things that are happening in her physical, cognitive and psychological life. In her physical changes, Mr. Doyle confides that after years of hard work, she is feeling gradual changes in her body. She has gained two pounds in the last two years and her weight is set to increase despite her dieting patterns (Dacey and Travers, 2005). She also feels that her body strength is decreasing and she has to ask for help to move her dinning table. Recently she visited a cardiologist and her cardiac output has decreased by half. Her vision is decreasing while sensitivity is increasing. In her cognitive development, Mrs. Doyle says that she apply post formal thinking in making executive decisions.
She is at the responsible stage in her cognition and makes a lot of consideration of future impact of her decision. However, she also feels that there is more cognitive decline in her life and her children are sometimes complaining of her less abstract reasoning. “Sometimes we quarrel with my children over this and that, only to realize later that my decision was not right” she says. There have been several psychosocial changes in her life as well. She feels that she is in a form of mid-life crisis as she is becoming aware of her mortality, the fast passing years and physical health decline. Although psychologically she is feel satisfied with her life, there is a lot of anticipation and identity development. Although she maintains cordial relationship with her children, she is lonely at home and mostly finds solace interacting with neighbors (Dacey and Travers, 2005). As a leader of local teachers association, she is in close contact with different individuals in the society. With her husband having died early, she has not been sexually active compare to other women of her age. However, she feels that menopause is beckoning and her sexual drive is decreasing. She confides that her menstrual period has already ceased. However she confides that she still feels lonely and longs for a companion.
At this stage, the most influential thing in Mrs. Doyle life is her children. Her children have influenced her to maintain a positive approach to life and they are the most important thing that she has lived for. However, she also says that she draw inspiration from her friends as well. “My workmates inspires a lot, especially my fellow women, we move together to accomplish more in life” she says. Apart from this stage in life, Mrs. Doyle looks forward to her later years in life when she would live with her grand children. She looks forward to the day when she would retire to a quite life at home and she wants to spend that time with her grand children. Concluding her interview, Mrs. Doyle argues that her most important contribution to the society has been imparting knowledge to the young ones. As a teacher, she is concerned about the generation that will inherit this world and she has been doing her best to make it a better generation than this one.
In my view, I feel that Mrs. Doyle life can be related to the theories of personality that we learnt in class. According to Eriksson stage of development, Mrs. Doyle fits in stage 7 of middle adulthood and she meets all the characteristics described by Erickson marking this stage (Davis and Clifton, 1995).
Middle adulthood is one of the most important stages in individual life. It has been described as a stage when individuals assess their overall achievement and also as one of the life stages filled with different conflict. From the interview, it is clear that Mrs. Doyle describes her life as a mixture of success and conflicts. Although she is happy and satisfied with her achievement in life, she is obstructed by mid-life crisis. Her life is can be explained in context of development theories.
Dacey, J. S., & Travers, J. F. (2005). Human Development across the lifespan. McGraw-Hill Publishers
Davis, D. & Clifton, A. (1995). Psychosocial Theory: Erikson. Haverford Publishers
 Not her real name