In regards to Robert Havighurst theory that developmental tasks for middle-aged adults are threefold: (1) managing a household, (2) child rearing, and (3)how might middle-aged adults accomplish...

In regards to Robert Havighurst theory that developmental tasks for middle-aged adults are threefold: (1) managing a household, (2) child rearing, and (3)how might middle-aged adults accomplish these tasks?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Robert Havinghurst's Developmental Task and Education theory (1952) is similar to that of Erik Erikson's psychosocial development theory in that they both contend that aging  is divided by stages, in which key developmental opportunities come by way of challenges to meet, or tasks to accomplish. 

In Havinghursts's theory, middle age adulthood falls in between the ages of 30 through 60. During this period of years, according to the theory, men and women are a the height of their productivity periods, influencing many people around them in many ways: as parents, mentors, peers, teachers, bosses, coaches, friends, husbands, or wives.  

This is also a period where maturity is expected to occur since society expects people of these age to be mature, have stability, be serious about things, and move away from the immaturities and insecurities from adolescence and young adulthood. 

The tasks of managing a household, child rearing, and caring for parents are achievable by the following ways:

1. Through physical changes in the body (maturity may bring with it more hormonal and thus emotional stability)

2. Pressure from the environment: Family issues, financial gains or loses, expectations placed upon the individual by friends, partners, or family. 

3. Personal demands: With age come personal expectations as well. Some people use a bucket list, others just want to prevent debt, and others plan for retirement 

Now, these tasks are all dependent on the environment. For example, rearing a family comes as a result of achieving the financial stability (or get financial assistance) to focus entirely on family. Similarly, a teenager cannot be a good and healthy son or daughter if the mother or father have not reared the family properly. 

Managing a Household:  Managing a household is a combination of learned behaviors (social learning) and personal knowledge. To be able to do it properly the mid-adult should establish and maintain a standard of living, as well as adjust to the fluctuating changes that come with the changing economy, changes in the size of a family, final expenses, taxing, and the individual activities of those inside the household. 

Child Rearing: Undergoing a period of self-awareness and experiencing empathy, sympathy and altruism are the key factors to be able to raise children properly. Detaching the self from individual needs and focusing on the needs of the children is the first step. The second is achieving the empathy and sympathy to understand the changes of the child. Most importantly, separating the role of the friend and mentor from that of the "parent" is essential. This is because the middle adult will have an opportunity to fulfill the roles of friends, mentor, and other things with peers and other people. With their own offspring the only role that is imperative to fulfill is that of "parent". 

In all, a combination of internal and external variables affect us all throughout separate periods of our development. The way that we interact with those environmental factors will prove to be the way to succeed at our challenges and be able to open to new ones.