The purpose of the talk was to identify the pressures men face over three different developmental age groups 12 – 19, 20 – 39 and 40 – 60.
These development groups were initially defined by American Psychologist Erik Erikson as part of his psychosocial stages . Each stage represents a specific challenge to be faced. If successful, a person can make a healthy transition to the next stage. If unsuccessful, healthy development is hindered.
Age 12 to 19: Identity vs. Role Confusion
Challenge: Social Relationships
This is a difficult time for young boys. As they start their transition into manhood they are looking for independence from their parents and trying to discover who they are and where they fit in the world.
Generally, they are more concerned with the opinions of their friends, which leads to strained relationships with parents and teachers as they refuse to listen to advice. As a result communication begins to break down, with parents refusing to accept these changes and continuing to treat their son as a child. This in turn ultimately leads to anger and frustration on both sides and sadly this is something I see regularly when working with teens.
Age 20 to 39: Intimacy vs. Isolation
Challenge: Love Relationships
Finding love is a huge uphill struggle these days with more and more men (and women) finding it hard to meet the right person. This could be down to the fear of making a mistake and getting hurt; it could be a case that they are prioritising career/financial freedom or as simple as they just refuse to commit to one person.
Age 40 to 60: Generativity vs. Stagnation
The biggest difficulty at this stage is generally the trials of being a parent. Broadly speaking, as your child hits the first phase mentioned above (12 to 19) stress levels hit an all time high as relations become strained. This is often a time of self reflection, looking back on life and trying to find a sense of accomplishment, trying to make sense of any mistakes made.
Over the next week I’ll be expanding on each phase, detailing the common issues men face at each point and outlining some potential solutions.