intergenerational activities-again
From: eugeniep (
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 14:37:01 -0600 (MDT)
As someone considering cohousing, I joined this list to see what issues and joys were discussed. This has been very helpful in providing a reality check for my own attitudes and values. One recent post by Patty Mara Gourley concerning intergenerational activities was especially thought-provoking for me. Patty said: "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."

As a soon-to-be-senior who has never had children and has always taught adults, the notion of automatically becoming a stand-in grandparent is unnerving. First of all, I would be worried about legal responsibility for any harm that might befall a youngster in my care, and secondly, I really don't know HOW to take care of kids. As Patty observed later in her post, many retirees are active in other ways that preclude being the "cookie-grandma" (my term, not hers). So this is a possible issue I would like to see some more discussion of.

Another issue that Patty raised in the same post, but no one responded to was the different expectations that contemporary parents have from the "Eisenhower years" and "Depression era" generations. These generations expect children to share in the tasks and chores of the community. Apparently the parents do not expect the children to do so. Is this really true? If so, how do the children learn that they are members of a community, and not just free riders? I guess my attitude derives from my upbringing on a farm, because I believe that shared work is even more important than constructed activity (games, story hours, etc.) in both producing a sense in children that their contributions are worthwhile, and the opportunity for generations to do things side-by-side that promote the common good. Some of my best childhood memories come from helping in the work that sustained our family farm: haying, canning, cooking, animal care, etc. Most often this work was done in the company of an adult with whom I could have good conversations, or just be quiet together. When I played, it was with other kids, not adults.

So please help me out: Is my attitude towards integenerational activity too "old-fashioned" for contemporary notions of cohousing?
Eugenie Potter
thinking and rethinking whether cohousing is the right choice

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