Who is engaged in the process of aging? Your grandparents? Your parents? YOU??
The fact is, we are all progressing in age and moving through the normal stages of life we have come to know as aging. Each stage has tasks to be accomplished before moving on to the next stage. Although there will, of course, be some variation in how these stages are broached, particularly as increasing numbers of people are electing singlehood as a lifestyle, the general sequence of events continues to hold for many others.
The first stage, childhood, requires growing physically, learning, and finding a place within the family.
In the second stage, the unattached adult differentiates her- or himself from parents, develops peer relationships, and establishes a place in the world of work.
The third stage is that of joining families through marriage. This stage involves forming of a new unit and realigning the individual self to incorporate a significant other into the established arrangement of family and friends.
The fourth stage is that of the family with young children. Tasks associated with this stage include adjusting to marriage, getting used to children and parenting, and experiencing one’s own parents as grandparents.
A family with adolescents encompasses the fifth stage, where flexibility in parenting is required. Mid-life marriage, career, and concerns for the older generation also are present during this period.
The sixth stage involves the launching of children. This is a time when parents once again become a couple, when they form adult relationships with their children, and when they may be required to face the illness, disability, and death of a spouse or parent.
Lastly comes the family in later life. This is a time when the couple begins to decline, when they deal with losses, support the middle generation, and conduct a life review.