Re: Intergenerational Activities
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 07:37:01 -0600 (MDT)
Ormond Otvos <ormond [at]>
is the author of the message below.
It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
because it had a "digest" subject line ; I restored the subject.
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

" 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

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? Thanks. Eugenie

Congratulations, Eugenie! You've dug almost all the way down to the
poltically correct attitudes that would try to generate community from
cohousing, instead of just meeting neighbors.

After reading this list for a long time, I've pretty much decided to stick
with my own house and just get out and mingle regularly, using the same
amount of energy that generating an expensive house in a fixed
neighborhood... There are lots of activities of a regular nature, such as
Rotary, food bank, morning donuts and coffee, an internet cafe with lots
of teens, sailing classes, library internet tutoring, high school
tutoring, mentoring, politics, and I've always wanted to start an atheist
sunday group...

Ormond Otvos, Berkeley

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