When I was growing up, the common understanding was that only women had a mid-life crisis. It was called (s-h-h-h) the change of life, which was code for menopause. Sounded awful. Apparently, women went crazy-mood swings, crying spells, all kinds of erratic behavior. Since then, it's become generally accepted that men have their own "mid-life crises" as well-and it's certainly not pretty, either.
But we can celebrate this New Year with a new outlook on mid-life for women. Because for most women, the middle of life is like a new year, a time of awakening and renewal.
Women generally have a better transition from youth to midlife than men do. In Sex and the Seasoned Woman, Gail Sheehy describes mid-life for women as dynamic and full of vitality. Ravenna Helson, the lead researcher of the Mills College study into women's transition into mid-life, reported that while "people generally describe personality change in middle age as a mid-life crisis, with all its negative connotations... in the Mills' women, the change was positive-a reorienting, not a crisis." This confirmed what Helson had found in another study, which revealed that women moving into mid-life become more self-sufficient, more decisive, more self-assured and secure, and less critical. These positive changes were accompanies by increased coping skills and increased comfort and stability.
Why is the mid-life experience so different for women?
I believe the difference in men and women's mid-life experience is not rooted in a difference in underlying human development, but rather stems from three simple circumstances: more control, more support, and believe it or not, menopause.
Over the next few weeks, I'll delve into each of these three topics, explaining how each contributes to the revitalization of mid-life for women... and communication strategies to use when marketing to these Boomer women.