Identify two people or a caregiver (as in the case of an infant), who represent two different stages of the life span—ideally, two who do not identify with your own current stage of life span development—and set up an brief 15–20 minute interview with them for this assignment. For example, select an adolescent and a senior in late adulthood, or the parent of a newborn and a child in late childhood.
Conversationally interview these two people in order to compare what you have learned here in class, through the textbook, lectures, and videos, with their perception of what it is actually like to be in their stage of life.
Interviews may be done via phone, Skype, email, etc. Take notes or record (with permission) your interview.
Below are some suggestions for your conversation. You do not need to cover all of these topics in your paper, but they will help you shape your discussion. Be sure to note which topics you discuss.
• Which life span period do they think they belong to (offer them the names, not the ages, of the life span). For example, ask, “Would you consider yourself to be a part of young adulthood or middle adulthood?” Ask them to explain why.
• Tell them a little bit about the chronological life span they belong to and ask them if they can relate to the characteristics associated with that period. Why or why not?
• Point out specific facts or studies you learned about for their specific stage of the life span and ask them their thoughts. Do they agree or disagree? Do they have a similar experience they can share?
• Explain nature versus nurture and ask them which one they feel influenced them most.
• If appropriate to the life stage, ask if they ever experienced: midlife crisis, ageism, gender bias.
• Show one of the videos and ask your interviewee what their thoughts are. Do they agree or disagree?
• Ask them what advice they would give to someone entering their stage of the life span and explain why.
• What challenges do they face at their life stage? Do they feel these challenges are common among others within the same life stage, or do they feel unique in these challenges?
This essay presents a summary of interviewees’ discussion on the topic of the chronological life span of human development. The interviewees represent two different stages in the life span; an adolescent and a senior in late adulthood. From the interviews, I was amazed at the accuracy of psychologist classifications of the different life stages.
The first interviewee was a white 14-year-old girl who identified as an adolescent. During the interview, I was able to acquire significant information regarding her thoughts about her life span. Subject A who I named Miranda due to privacy purposes said that she belonged to the adolescent/puberty life span. Miranda associated puberty with “adult-like” behavior such as freedom, love, and fear. She no longer thinks of acts like a child, and she is more conscious about what others think of her. She could relate with every aspect I mentioned about the chronological life span they belong to. Miranda said that she had received her periods, her body had experienced a growth spurt and sexual maturation. She could not explain why suddenly she had interests in boys and the urge to try out “risky things” such as smoking or going to clubs. “ I think that I am at the age of “trial and error” and all I want is to be a cool person,” claimed Miranda. She believes that these changes are influenced by nature and not nurture. “At times I wake up sad for no reason, it must be nature, right?”. To some extent, Miranda feels that being an adolescent girl places her at a higher risk of gender-based violence. “My friends and I don’t like the way ‘Creeps’ stare at our body or make ill comments about us,” exclaimed Miranda.
The biggest challenge she is facing as a teenager is understanding transition. “There is a range of emotions that come with puberty that aggravate all these other teenage problems we face”. Hence, Miranda’s advice to someone entering puberty is to “always remember who you were as a child”. This has been her greatest weapon against peer pressure and developing deviant behaviors.
The second interviewee was a 65-year-old African American Lady identified as a senior in late adulthood. Subject B who I named Julie for privacy reasons, identified herself as a “senior citizen, older by age but vibrant in spirit”. She remembers every stage of human development as if it was yesterday. Julie was a retired nurse and chronological life span was not a new term for her. She agreed to all psychological facts regarding old age and that they manifest differently in each individual.
Julie argued that human development is a result of interaction between nature and nurture. Julie believes that some environmental aspects like lifestyle changes largely help delay some old age-related adversities. She could still exercise and do most chores by herself, while her neighbor who was 5 years younger could barely walk. For Julie, being an African American woman makes you vulnerable to all hardships and violence that life can offer. “A black woman suffers from gender, race, the economy,…. name them,” affirmed Julie. She says that other than being black, her greatest challenge at her life stage is health care costs. Julie affirmed that with aging comes severe health problems including heart diseases, vision problems, and diabetes that influence high healthcare spending.
Julie’s advice to those entering old age is that “aging is irreversible, your body aches and you suffer the risk of losing your senses at any time. Regardless, nothing beats old age like the smile of your grandbabies, getting to hold them brings energy and life in you. Ooh, also get your insurance coverage right, it’s sick in here!”
Interviewing both Julie and Miranda turned out to exciting and engaging. I felt that the process of talking to someone about their place in the life span allows you to expand on your imagination and insights regarding the subject. From the conversations, I learned that with each life span comes physical, emotional, and psychological challenges that must be well addressed. From Millan’s perspective, being an adolescent meant facing a range of emotions and feelings that can be overwhelming for their age. The adolescent stage has been associated with psychological and emotional struggles that render them vulnerable to behavioral problems such as substance abuse, mental health disorders, and illegal behaviors (Pinquart, 2017). From her advice, I grasped that most teenagers lack the appropriate support and guidance from parents or guardians, prompting them to figure things out on their own (Twenge and Park, 2019). When she says “always remember who you were as a child” all I could think of is that she lacks faith in the system that is initially supposed to guide her through the rapid changes associated with the adolescent lifespan.
I also learned that among the elderly, health care costs are a significant concern that needs to be addressed. As Schepanski et al. (2018) opine, late adulthood is associated with adverse healthcare problems linked to deteriorating immunity and cognitive capabilities. Further, Kingston et al (2017) argue that with aging, individuals become more dependent on others and highly reliable on healthcare services. Hence, I agree with Julie that late adulthood is an age featuring psychological, emotional, and social-economic problems that need demands one to be prepared in advance. Acquiring insurance cover would be a fundamental strategy for early preparation for someone entering late adulthood.
Kingston, A., Wohland, P., Wittenberg, R., Robinson, L., Brayne, C., Matthews, F. E., … & Weller, R. (2017). Is late-life dependency increasing or not? A comparison of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS). The Lancet, 390(10103), 1676-1684. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31575-1
Pinquart, M. (2017). Associations of parenting dimensions and styles with externalizing problems of children and adolescents: An updated meta-analysis. Developmental psychology, 53(5), 873. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000295
Schepanski, S., Buss, C., Hanganu-Opatz, I. L., & Arck, P. C. (2018). Prenatal immune and endocrine modulators of offspring’s brain development and cognitive functions later in life. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 2186. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.02186
Twenge, J. M., & Park, H. (2019). The decline in adult activities among US adolescents, 1976–2016. Child Development, 90(2), 638-654. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12930