Adulthood II: A Whole New Stage In The Life Cycle with Mary Catherine Bateson, Ph.D.

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People are living longer but this new longevity is not equivalent to an extension of old age or years added on at the end of life. Children have left home and many are facing retirement, but are not ready to spend this time on the golf course, or playing endless hands of bridge. There is the possibility of opening up to a second and different kind of adulthood. This stage is endowed with wisdom, health, and energy. As trustees for the future, what are the new roles elders will take on? Can they become the needed visionaries in our society? What can elders do with this unique combination of energy and knowledge? Mary Catherine Bateson challenges us by saying, "We need to reengage, make our voices heard, clear off some of the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years, and focus on what we care about the most. We are opening up to a second and different kind of adulthood." (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Mary Catherine Bateson, Ph.D. was the Clarence J. Robinson’s Professor in Anthropology and English at George Mason University from 1987 to 2002, when she became Professor Emerita. She is a Visiting Scholar at the Center of Aging and Workplace Flexibility at Boston College, and, until recently, was President of the Institute of Intercultural Studies in New York City.

She is the author of many books and papers, including:

To learn more about the work of Mary Catherine Bateson go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How independence is a dangerous illusion
  • What is "Adulthood II"
  • What are the internal mechanisms and built-in prejudices of ageism
  • How important are long-term friendships as we age
  • Why are post-reproductive women needed for a healthy society
  • How can we best form intergenerational relationships
  • How deep-listening and asking questions help elders avoid becoming boring to others
  • Why polls are not accurate because they assume everyone over 60 is the same
  • How the perspective of time and tolerance for ambiguities change as we age

Host: Justine Willis Toms     Interview Date: 10/1/2010     Program Number: 3382

Music Playlist

From Album: IN STRIDE
Artist: Oregon
2010 Cam Jazz #PRM7830-2

Opening Essay: Track 02 As She Sleeps
Music Break 1: Track 05 On the Rise
Music Break 2: Track 09 Petroglyph
Music Break 3: Track 02 As She Sleeps