the client distinguish between what is helpful and what is harmful Finding

The client distinguish between what is helpful and

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the client distinguish between what is helpful and what is harmful. Finding purpose and meaning in a seemingly bleak situation is one component of spiritual- ity (Gotterer, 2001). Human beings, theologian Karen Armstrong (1993) suggests, cannot endure emptiness and desolation; they will fill the vacuum by creating a new focus of meaning. Often the search for meaning leads them in a spiritual direction to a sense of oneness with the universe. Spiritual developments are highly personal and do not require ritualism or reci- tation of religious creeds. Attending religious services, in contrast, helps meet one’s need for companionship and community. Social Aspects of Middle Age Friendship comes easily to the young, whether attending school, living in a dorm, traveling together, or dating. Parents of small children often become friends with the parents of their children’s playmates. In a neighborhood, chil- dren who play outdoors are often a link among families. Sometimes the babysitter is the link. Later, along with the empty nest may come an empty social life. Family life changes for middle-aged persons as well. A woman’s responsibilities as a care- taker for her children may lessen at this stage, while she becomes more of a caretaker for an ailing older family member. This role may pro- vide fulfillment or distress, depending on the circumstances—medical and economic—and the personalities involved. Sibling bonds are very often strengthened as more time is spent in each other’s company. Middle age is a time to mend fences as brothers and sisters together face the loss of their parents. Work roles may become more significant at this time—or less so depending on competing demands, personal needs, and opportunity. Many people are at the peak of their earning potential during this pe- riod and do not welcome the thought of retire- ment. Others eagerly look forward to getting out of the rat race and doing the things they were too busy to do before. Critical to an understanding of midlife de- velopment, Moen and Wethington (1999) con- tend, is the degree of predictability of transitions. Anticipated changes such as the departure of grown children can be handled much more easily than sudden occurrences such as divorce or early widowhood. Grandparenthood is often a welcome event, but, even here, timing is im- portant. Becoming a grandparent in one’s thir- ties may not be such a good thing, while parents who are still waiting in their sixties for their children to have children may grow increasingly anxious. According to a research study of more than two thousand University of North Carolina alumni, major midlife jolts, especially negative ones, can apparently alter personality qualities long assumed to be stable (Herbst, McCrae, Costa, Feaganes, & Siegler, 2000). Otherwise, no evidence for a midlife crisis was found in either gender. Oddly, divorce in middle age was found to be more empowering for women and harm- ful for men. Men who divorced in their forties became more depressed and lowered their achievement goals. Women, however, became
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