Aging: Baby-Boomer Women Coming into Their Wisdom

In the year 2011, the first wave of the 76 million baby-boomers will turn 65. Our changing demographics, fueled by increased longevity and the aging of baby-boomers creates the basis for a social transformation heretofore unknown in America.

Because of our increased life expectancy, and better health care, aging and concepts of middle age means something very different today to women than it did to previous generations. It is a time of spiritual and psychological potentials. It is a time when a woman becomes a wise woman or crone.

Baby-Boomer women are aging differently than any generations before them. They challenged the norms of prior generations. It began in the 1960s when they protested the war, ushered in the first wave of women’s liberation, developed careers beyond the standard women’s roles of teaching, nursing, or office administration.

Women born in the period after WWII challenged the norms of society, made conscious choices about marriage, divorce and/or being single. They made, and continue to make alternative decisions about methods of birthing, health care, retirement, and death and dying. In short, they have questioned the norms that society had previously set. This author believes baby-boomers will follow the same paradigms of innovation as they move into the next cycle of their lives.

There can be rewards of growing older that include self-determination, freedom of choice, joys of relationships, meaningful work and interests, social support, spirituality, and self-understanding. The benefits of these rewards also include emotional balance, self-assurance, inner directedness, self-acceptance, and acceptance of one’s current life.

Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen expressed that our culture does not value the wisdom of old age or of women, thus creating a potential for anxiety about aging. For example, in past history women were burned at the stake and called witches for having valuable knowledge. She pointed out positive spiritual and psychological possibilities women gain as they become wise women. In fact, the term “crone” carries baggage from witch-burning history, when negative associations were attached to traditional knowledge and the powerful women who linked their communities to it.

To take her place as a wise woman, a postmenopausal woman has to overcome her fears of aging and fears of speaking with authority. Comparing traditional and tribal societies where the crone stage is considered a woman’s time or arrival into her full wisdom and power in exposes a contrast to our modern society. It is one that reveres the glamour of youth, often at the expense of maturity. Menopause can be an exhilarating time of freedom, growth, and empowerment. The rewards of aging include an inner directedness, self-acceptance, and acceptance of one’s current life.

Mid-life baby-boomer women are on a passage to becoming wise crones. This generation is defining aging in a new paradigm. Midlife no longer defines the stereotypes of old age that once included limitations, loneliness, and retirement. Life can be an opportunity for rewards connected with aging; an expansion from the rich knowledge and experiences that have been part of their life’s path. The path of aging can be one filled with new horizons.

Women can learn to celebrate the freedom that comes with becoming a crone. Because of our increased life expectancy, and better health care, aging and concepts of middle age means something very different today than it did in previous generations. Instead of entering menopause with anxiety and a sense of loss, it should be a time to claim power at this phase of life. It is a time of spiritual and psychological potentials. This phase of life brings possibility of wisdom about life and the potential to inspire others through this insight.

© Copyright 2009 by Ruth Subrin MFT ATR, therapist in Santa Monica, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Nadine

    Nadine

    April 4th, 2009 at 9:32 AM

    I cannot tell you how much better I feel about myself now that I have gotten older- sounds backwards doesn’t it but it really is true. I have developed much more of a self awareness than I ever had in my younger days and now feel prepared to take on the world both spiritually and emotionally. This is something that I never felt when I was young but have fully embraced as I have grown older and I know wiser. I am accepting the whole aging thing with grace like I never expected that I would be able to and I have to say that it feels great! I wish that more older women would look to themselves to make themselves happy rather than always looking for the latest new cosmetic surgeries or a man to make them happy. The kind of peace that I have about life now is something that no man or cosmetic filler or procedure could ever bring me.

  • Allie

    Allie

    April 4th, 2009 at 11:17 AM

    What a wonderful way to look at aging. I don’t think I am scared of getting older and I am happy about my age (38), and I don’t act it one bit, but I do get a little discouraged about the little lines popping up.

  • Bonnie

    Bonnie

    April 5th, 2009 at 10:36 AM

    I guess this is where we can say we need to learn to “grow old gracefully”

  • Gaylea

    Gaylea

    April 6th, 2009 at 1:54 AM

    I believe a lot of us become wiser and smarter as we grow older. I’ve always said if I knew then what I know now, I would have done some things differently. When we are younger, we make some silly mistakes that when we look back, we should have know better. I understand the importance of things when we grow older.

  • Lara

    Lara

    April 6th, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    Personally I am having a very hard time with the whole issue of aging and getting older. I think about all of the things that I am leaving behind like youth and beauty and then the losses of my children as they grow older and go on the get married and have families of thheir own. I think I am in the midst of the classic mid life crisis and I do not know how to deal with that. So much emphasis has been put on holding women at their premium when they are young and pretty and I do not know how to reconcile that with the fact that now advertisers are supposedly telling us that it is ok to age and grow old gracefully. How do I fight back all of the info we have been given about this for so long and now embrace something totally different? I do not mean to sound shallow but getting older is not something that I look forward to with very much excitement and anticipation at all!

  • candace

    candace

    April 7th, 2009 at 8:21 AM

    I hope when i get older that I have a positive outlook on life. Right now, I fear of not being able to get around or do the things I do now. I hope I can really embrace the idea of wisdom when I reach that stage.

  • Nan

    Nan

    April 8th, 2009 at 4:59 AM

    Think about everything you have learned as you have gotten older and the many ways that you can now use this to your advantage in your later years. What a blessing that will be!

  • Lydia K

    Lydia K

    April 9th, 2009 at 6:43 AM

    Embrace the lines and wrinkles ladies! What a story each one of them has to tell!

  • Carol

    Carol

    April 10th, 2009 at 10:14 AM

    Thanks for that advice Lydia. I hope to take that to heart!

  • Ruthie

    Ruthie

    April 14th, 2009 at 3:46 AM

    For so many years we as women have been fed the line that we should feel bad about getting old and need to do what we can to stop aging in its tracks. But now we are being told differently and while I am happy to hear this because the last time I checked it is hard to stop the progress of time it still makes me think that it is almost like one of those backhanded compliments. Go ahead and age it will be ok sort of thing. You still never really see older females embraced for their beauty- they are still made to feel old and scraggly no matter where we turn. When is the last time you saw an article promoting looking good in a bikini for women over 30? Never and it ain’t ever gonna happen!We should all welcome aging that is true- it is better than the alternative after all.

  • Dorothea Hover-Kramer

    Dorothea Hover-Kramer

    July 7th, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    Yes, views of aging are changing! Gray hair is in and many can begin to see how true beauty shines from within. The last time I talked with a teenage beauty queen I was struck with how boring her world was, how little she knew of the bigger world, compared to my baby boomer friends.
    It’s time for us to acknowledge each other and celbrate the beauty and freedom we really have!
    Dorothea Hover-Kramer, author of “Second Chance at Your Dream”

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