Ellie Greenberg

Dear Ellie

Think of Dear Ellie as your very own kitchen table, where you can discuss the things that are on your mind. Now that the boomers are turning 60 and those in the Greatest Generation are in their 70s, 80s, and 90swe are all blazing new trails in the third third of life. So, have a cup of coffee and let’s talk about life: the past, the present, and the future. [Editor's note: Dr. Greenberg no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]

Each Generation of Women Has Its Own Concerns

Cross the generational lines

By Elinor Miller Greenberg, EdD

Dear Ellie:

I was in a women’s group meeting recently, and I was surprised at the
differences in the interests and concerns of women of different ages. I
guess I never realized how much our age affects our perspectives. Do
you have the same experience when you teach, make a presentation, or
just go to an event with women of different ages? Debbie

Dear Debbie:

Yes, of course. Women—and men, for that matter—of different ages have
lived through different historical events, and they focus on the
particular issues of their own personal lives at different stages. Our
age often determines what our most important issues are. The research
on adult development gives us some guidelines about what to expect at
different stages of our lives.

I made a presentation at a women’s group recently and started the
program with a question that I often ask my audiences to address in
pairs, preferably with someone they do not know. What is the most important issue in your life right now? was the question. Here are
some of the answers I recorded in my notes:

  • The 20-year-olds: Gaining self-confidence, developing my
    professional and personal life, the tough economy, and having a sense
    of hopelessness
  • The 30-year-olds: Juggling my career with preschool-age children,
    not enough time with my husband, and deciding whether to keep working
    or stay at home with my children while they are young
  • The 40-year-olds: Discovering who I am as a woman, finding my
    voice, "putting it all together," and thriving in the midst of so many
    demands on me
  • The 50-year-olds: Political issues like health care reform, improving my technical skills, and trying to make money
  • The 60-year-olds: Making the most of these years, time running out, invisibility, and physical changes
  • The 70-year-olds: My husband’s poor health, finding ways to
    continue to work, and staying healthy in order to continue to live with
    vitality and purpose

There were no women in their 80s or 90s in this particular group, but I
plan to write another article about them, because they are so
interesting and energetic.

From just those few examples above, you can see the entire life cycle
and the different things that concern us at different ages. Of course,
we are not all alike, and many issues cross various ages. However, I
sincerely believe that we would learn so much from one another if we
got together in intergenerational groups instead of confining ourselves
to groups of people who have circumstances similar to our own.

Whenever you have the opportunity, join women of various ages. Make
friends across generational lines. Your life will be greatly enriched,
and you just may be able to avoid some future problems and find some
solutions to your own concerns. Ellie

By Elinor Miller Greenberg, EdD
Dear Ellie Blog


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