Things to talk about before moving in
From: Ann Barbarow (
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 16:34:07 -0600
At 06:52 PM 12/14/96 -0600, Anne R Tyler wrote:

>When you get/got together for cohousing, do/did any of you talk about 
>- what parenting meant to you
>- what goals you had for children and how you thought they could be achieved
>- different philosophies of parenting and why they worked/didn't work
>- ideas about working out differences as far parenting issues were concerned
>Sometimes I think that difficulties in childrearing come from not having 
>had to be clear about what's going on and why problems are occurring.
>Does this resonate with any of you?

It is interesting that you should mention this. After living at Muir Commons
for several years, a few of us were talking about things we did/didn't
expect before moving, and lots of the unexpected revolved around kids. And
it's not surprising... Before move-in, there was always organized childcare
for meetings, so we just didn't have much experience dealing with children
in the context of community. I imagine that parents were able to intermix
their experiences as parents with their coho expectations, but we
non-parents just saw a group of adults getting together and working on this
huge project together. After moving in, it became clear that most events and
community areas would become child-dominated, unless a concerted effort was
made. We had/have a lot of areas that are loosly programed, eg, without
really clear uses. Adults tend to stand back and see what developes, kids
tend to fill every vaccuum.

So my advice to pre-move in communities is to talk about these children's
issues a lot. What will it mean to parents to have their children with so
much freedom - what responsibilities can you reasonably expect from them -
who will be responsibility for cleaning up things that "Mr. Nobody" messes -
what houses will have the tv on a lot and how will you handle it if some
parents don't want their kids watching tv - how much do you want other
adults correcting your child's behavior - how much do other adults want to
correct your child's behavior - how can adults have "adult only" times and
spaces without offending parents and children - if you don't want your
children eating certin foods, how will that be regulated etc, etc, etc. This
is not to suggest that you can solve these potential problems before move-in
(or ever) but the sooner you start talking about them, the more realistic
everyone's expectations can evolve.

To answer your question - yes, this does resonate with me.

Ann, who really likes kids but feels that all her postings revolve around
children "problems". Maybe my next posting will include all the special
relationships I have with my shorter neighbors.

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