Everyone goes through a life phase. We start with infancy, childhood, teenage, young adult, adult, the forties, fifties, sixties, and old age.
Much has been written about the forties. The famous line that captures the imagination is: “Life begins at forty.” I wonder why. It is really no wonder. Forties is the life phase where an individual is supposed to know himself better if not, best. Let’s take the perspective of a woman (no offense meant to the male readers) of my column. She knows her strengths and weaknesses at this age. She is equipped to manage both. This is also the phase when a mom’s kids are either teenagers or fully grownup. Now she has sufficient free time to pursue a dream, an interest, a hobby, return to school, join an advocacy, be active in church, and the like. Well lady, don’t expect full support from the people around you. Some will even criticize you. It’s normal. Just press on and pursue that aspiration. Along the way, you will meet people who will be more supportive and inspired by your pursuit. Eventually, your critics will transform into admirers and believers. They will start appreciating your dogged determination. What is life without critics anyway? Critics make us human. Critics make us humble.
If it is not our habit to evaluate every life phase we’re in, let us start now. The assessment process will enable us to appreciate the good stuff and evaluate the bad stuff. The bad stuff becomes the lessons that we grow from.
Some people will face a crisis upon reaching their forties. This is the phase where personal and professional insecurities and inadequacies come out and are most prominent. If we do not talk about it and simply ignore it, I guarantee our world shrinks, we feel choked, and ultimately swallowed. Thus, it is important that we keep a strong support system that understands what we are going through. We need a confidante or two to listen to our woes, pray with us and for us.
For the sixties and above, this is the phase where our folks need our love, care, and attention. They want to feel loved and needed. If our folks are still alive, we should exert effort to visit them often, spend time with them, and celebrate life with them. Family rituals are very important to old folks. We should make them feel a part of our life.
For the techie-savvy teenagers, we must be cool moms and dads to them. I have heard so many mothers and fathers complain about the behaviour of the young nowadays and they blame it on the environment and the ubiquitous internet. I can empathize. How can a parent compete with the pervasive internet? It is quite a challenge to become a cool parent in this day and age. The key is good old-fashioned values. I strongly believe in embedding good old-fashioned values in parenting. When kids appreciate positive values at a young age, this value system will stay with them until old age. They will probably deviate from time to time, but they never disregard it. Good old-fashioned values become their beacon to stay on the path, and return to it, if and when they stray.