Načini ispoljavanja krize srednjih godina, osećanje smisla života i oblici usklađivanja porodičnih i profesionalnih uloga u Srbiji
Manifestations of mid-life crisis, the sense of meaning in life and the balance between professional and family roles in Serbia
AuthorPavlović, Milica M.
Committee membersZlatanović, Ljubiša
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The main objective of this research was to explore the relationship beetwen characteristic manifestations of mid-life crisis, the attained sense of meaning in life, the satisfaction with professional and family roles, and the way people in Serbia balance all of these. More precisely, it examined the connection beetwen denial by escape, denial by overcompensation, decompensation, and creative and successful coping with the crisis, as different aspects of the external manifestations of midlife crisis, and the establishment of a new balance between the opposites such as young-old, masculine-feminine, destructioncreation and closeness-separation, which are all profound internal changes caused by the crisis, with the attained meaning in life, satisfaction with different aspects of professional and family roles, and the ways people balance them in Serbia. The values of these variables are compared with those of middle-aged people, as well as younger and older people, in order to identify any... specific characteristics that middle-aged population might have. In addition to these main differences, some others were observed, measured and noted down following the comparison to the 8 control variables. For the purpose of this research, which is part of a doctoral dissertation, a sample of 600 respondents was chosen, 200 of whom were middle-aged (between 40 and 64 years), 200 younger (between 25 and 39 years), and another 200 older (aged 65 to 80 years). Data were collected from July to December of 2012. The study included five major regions, or 10 cities of the Republic of Serbia (Northern Serbia: Novi Sad and Belgrade, Central Serbia: Jagodina and Kruševac, Southern Serbia: Leskovac and Lebane, Eastern Serbia: Niš and Knjaževac and Western Serbia: Novi Pazar and Užice) . The following instruments were used: A list of subjects’ basic biodata, Midlife Crisis Scale-MCS, Midlife Crisis Scale-SKSG, which was specially created for the purposes of this study, Bem Sex-Role Inventory, adapted Loyola generativity scale, adapted scale of preferred aloneness, Meaning in Life Questionnaire, the modified Role Quality Scale, Work-Family Conflict Scale, Work-Family Positive Spillover Scale, Measures of Supports from Family and Work, adapted Work-Family Role Interdependence Scale and Scale of stressful life events occurring on the modified list of stressful life events by Jelena Vlajković. Descriptive statistics was used to process the data, including appropriate correlation coefficients, specific procedures for determining the normality of distribution of all variables in the scores of respondents, specific procedures for identifying and testing psychometric characteristics of the instruments and methods of factor analysis to determine the adequacy of the internal structure of the instrument, correlation coefficients for determining the correlation between variables and various procedures for testing the difference between groups of respondents. The statistical analysis of the data was performed using SPSS version 20 for data analysis in social sciences. Obtained results show the connection between certain external and internal manifestations of midlife crisis with the attained sense of meaning in life, means of balancing professional and family roles and different aspects of satisfaction with their performance. The paper offers models (schematic diagram) of the relationships of these variables, in relation to both the whole sample, and the middle-aged portion of the sample. Furthermore, it can be concluded that differences in these key variables between groups of participants of different gender, level of education, financial status, employment status, marital status, with different places of residence and work in one of the five major 8 regions of Serbia, as well as different numbers and types of stressful events that were experienced in life. When it comes to the deep internal changes, which are of unconscious nature, middleaged people first display a change in behavior. Denial by overcompensation is most intense in the period between 25 and 30 years of age, because it includes behaviors that are typical of this age. Decompensation and denial by escape occur most intensely between the ages of 50 and 54, possibly as the first response to the crisis and the new state. It takes some time for a person to fully realize what has happened to them and to gain the capacity to find a creative and successful way to deal with the crisis, which in the majority of people occurs somewhere between the ages of 60 and 64. These changes are indicative of the existence of deep, and most importantly, long-term psychological processes of shifting the internal balance, which results in significant changes in the internal structure of a person much later in life. The first internal change in which it is possible to register a significant progress in establishing a new balance and the reconciliation of a pair of opposites, is the one related to the reconciliation of male and female roles in a person, or masculine and feminine personality traits, and it happens somewhere between the ages of 40 and 44. Finally accepting one’s own finality and the process of aging as inevitable but normal and natural life process, or the reconciliation between youth and old age, is most intense between 60 and 64 years of age. The most intensive progress in establishing a new balance between the last two pairs of opposites – the gain-loss and closeness-separation reconciliation is the last to take place in one’s life, and occurs between the ages of 75 and 80. Each life crisis causes a person at some point to open and re-examine the basic existential questions about the meaning of life. Generally speaking, middle-aged people have the lowest level of stable feeling towards the existence of meaning in life. It is lower than the intensity of this feeling among young people, and reaches its lowest between the ages of 55 and 59, or according to some more rough estimates, between 50 and 59 years of age. In the elderly the sense of meaning is almost fully formed, and with the passage of time, they increasingly seek to find some of its new aspects. On the other hand, middle-aged people are constantly faced with discovering new aspects of meaning in life. The search for the meaning of life begins to grow more intense somewhere between the ages of 45 and 49, then fluctuates slightly over the next nine years, and culminates in the period between 60 and 64 years of age, after which it has been recorded to decrease in intensity. It can be concluded that, generally speaking, mid-life is the period of life characterised by questioning the meaning of life. People don’t have a clear notion that they have found adequate and satisfactory sense in their lives, and they are constantly trying to find or rediscover it. In the group of middle-aged people, the conflict of roles is most pronounced in the period between the ages of 40 and 44, while the spillover reaches its peak slightly later, between the ages of 60 and 64. The intertwining of roles and the sacrifice of time that could be spent with the family due to professional obligations as a forms of interdependence of work and family roles, are also most intense between the ages of 40 and 44. This could mean that people, upon entering mid-life fail to adequately distinguish and separate family and professional roles, which are often in some kind of conflict. It is only at the end of this period that we see a positive exchange of experiences, which enriches and facilitates the performance of family and professional responsibilities and activities. Compared to young and old, mid-life people are most content with performing certain family and professional roles, yet at the same time, they feel the highest level of stress, too. The stress seems to reach its peak earlier, in the period of life between the ages of 50 and 54, while the contentment with the role is at its height between the ages of 60 and 64. The lowest level of stress and contentment with roles were observed in the elderly, between 65 and 69 years of age. In mid-life people, the highest levels of stress were noted between 50 and 54 9 years of age, when a rapid decline in values begins, while at the same time satisfaction with children oscillates, reaching its maximum in the third phase of life. As a general conclusion it may be pointed out that mid-life and crises occurring at the transition from the first to the second half of life is really an important milestone in the development, which requires a substantial reconstruction of the previous way of functioning in all important aspects of life. The second half of life is more difficult, painful and certainly more complex than the first. However, if the person is wise and manages to listen to the voices from the depths of their soul, they will succeed in finding new resources and developing their potential despite the complexity of circumstances. Each person must find their own unique path in life.