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What It Means To Be 'Middle-Aged'

With Kimberly Atkins

So you’re middle-aged now, but does that mean you’re really a grown-up? Maybe not.


Pamela Druckerman, journalist and Author of four books, including “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers The Wisdom of French Parenting.” Her most recent book is “There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story.” Contributing opinion writer at the New York Times. (@pameladruck)

Beth Teitell, features writer for the Boston Globe. (@BethTeitell)

From The Reading List:

The Boston Globe: The new insult: calling someone middle aged. Even — or especially — if they are” — “Hey, buddy, who you callin’ middle aged?

As those in the dreaded cohort know, the term is so pejorative it hits like a back spasm when you get off the couch:

You overhear a twentysomething colleague referring to you as ‘middle aged’ — and the part of you that thought your cool sneakers were fooling people dies.

Your teenager mocks you for wearing a jacket when it’s 70 degrees, but then consoles you. ‘It’s OK, middle-aged moms are always cold.’

A saleswoman in the eyeglasses store points you to ‘youthful’ looking bifocals. ‘Middle-aged people love these,’ she chirps.

Here we are in 2018 — a golden age of rebranding — but who’s working to reintroduce ‘middle aged’ to the American people?

Middle age, look around you! There are second acts in America: Dunkin’ is experimenting with shedding ‘Donuts’ from its name. Some vegans are recasting themselves as plant-based. Meditation began calling itself mindfulness and has left the ashram for the boardroom.”

Excerpt from ‘There Are No Grown Ups’: 

Being in your 40s doesn’t mean middle aged anymore – but what does it mean? Are you supposed to have things figured out by then – career, family, friendships? How are you supposed to handle the physical changes that happen during those years? What happens when others’ perceptions of you don’t match how you feel? And what do mid-life crises look like in this millennia?

This hour, On Point: are we really grownups at middle age?

– Kimberly Atkins

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A couple relaxes at Le Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France. (Marie-Sophie Tékian/Unsplash)
A couple relaxes at Le Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France. (Marie-Sophie Tékian/Unsplash)