Re: Intergenerational Activities
From: pattymara (
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 13:36:03 -0600 (MDT)
On Sun, 19 May 2002 21:20:01 -0700 Becky Schaller
<bschaller [at]> writes:
 >What kinds of intergenerational activities do other communities have
where adults and kids are encouraged to interact and >get to know each
other better?

At Tierra Nueva, on the central CA coast, the most long lived activity
for young children and seniors has been our storytelling Tuesday.  Only a
few senior women have been faithful to the effort, and the kid turnout is
usually only 2 to 4 toddlers-5 yr olds,
but they meet every Tuesday in the library for an hour.  

Many of the young families here were propelled into cohousing by the what
I call the "Myth of the Many Grandparents".  They looked forward to
numerous seniors, always available, eager to become stand-in grandmas and
grandpas to their children, babysitting, doing activities, sharing their
wisdom.   The reality is far from the myth.  Our seniors, some newly
retired from their professional lives, are actively involved in outside
events, social and environmental activism and lots of travel.   They are
just as busy as the young families, and the middle age families (working
at several jobs to keep their kids in college and grad schools).  There
is no real "leisure class" here.  We're all busy.  

And when community events create opportunities for young ones and seniors
to rub against one another, more often than not, the interaction is
relatively superficial.  The kids really want to be with other kids.  The
same could be said for the adults.

The shadow issue here, not really talked about deeply, yet, is the wide
gap in parenting styles--those who raised their children in the
Eisenhower years don't really have the same perspective as the families
with young children today.   Additionally, most of the seniors here grew
up during the Great Depression.  They are adamant that all the kids
should be pitching in with community tasks, just like they had to, to
survive.  Some of the families encourage their kids to join in on work
teams, but most do not involve their kids in the maintenance and
housecleaning tasks of community life.  

Another shadow issue is that some of our seniors don't have the emotional
maturity and psychological stability necessary for developing trust
levels with the parents of young children, enough so they will entrust
their children to their care.  

The REAL relationships which seem the most valuable to me (and I am one
of those middle age parents with kids in college) are the ones that are
formed by frequent interactions on a day to day basis.  The young ones
become familiar with me because I am part of their parents' circle of
friends...we cook for one another, go places together, camp out
regularly.    We hang out.   This kind of social intimacy can't be
scheduled or manipulated by social engineering.  It just grows inch by

Patty Mara Gourley
Tierra Nueva
Cen. CA Coast

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