Re: Children: Letting them work it out or micromanaging
From: Rachael Shapiro (
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 04:57:54 -0800 (PST)
Hi everyone- I have lived at Ecovillage-ithaca for over 9 years and with 60 kids living here we have been through many issues about what it takes to feel successful to parent in cohousing.
I think a growing sense of trust and safety- (given that there are differences in parenting styles and personalities)- is the key to feeling like parenting in cohousing is worth the added complexities. We talk with each other about it and if that is too difficult, we can get help with mediation. We periodically have parenting support groups which have been helpful. These have ranged from basic "speak from the heart" discussions about how parenting is going to specific discussions about current challenges. It has been a very good place to bring your frustrations and work on problem solving. I know how the extra meeting time can feel daunting but i think that if they are done effectively, they can really be helpful. It helps if there are a few "burning souls" that can share the focus of keeping the momentum going. Ours go in fits and starts.
Communicating our conflicts, supervision issues, establishing guidelines when needed, and inclusion/exclusion issues seem to be up there with the most challenging of parenting issues.
We have been very fortunate to have a husband/wife Montesorri teacher team that for over a year, facilitated a Kids' Council that met 1x a month. About 10-15 kids, ages 6-12 met, discussed and implemented projects of interest ( a kids' garden, a treehouse, a bike loop, talks of putting up a zip line), plus worked on conflict resolution stuff and discussed guidelines that the kids had input into, especially as it related to use of common areas. It helped to establish that they have a voice in the community. They also learned basic meeting skills-how to make decisions together, facilitating and a step towards effective communication skills. Obviously, this was labor intensive for the adults.
We have a dad's support group that has met once a month for years now and that has been very successful.

        How to have more simplicity in cohousing life is a great topic!
I am interested in the possibility of writing a book about raising children in cohousing and hope to share some of my thoughts about it in an upcoming email.
On Dec 13, 2005, at 9:17 AM, Shelly wrote:


Here at Rocky Hill Cohousing, 24 of the 28 households have moved in. Along with those houses came many active children.....heavy on the boy side and no playscape in sight as of yet. Common house under construction..

It seems that many issues have been popping up from incidents with children that vary from day to day. One day, one child feels excluded....another day someone got hit with a lightsaber too hard, one...a snowball, etc.

The ages of the kids paying ranges from around 5 to 11 and the attitudes about how much supervision the children need outside vary from "let them work it out" to "somebody needs to be supervising at all times."

As one who has a ten-year-old boy who runs out to play and a one-year-old daughter who needs my attention inside the home, I really don't have the energy or desire to pack her into a backpack carrier in a snowsuit and stand outside on the path monitoring the children every moment.

How have other communities handled this? The child care committee wants to have monthly parenting meetings where we discuss how each child is feeling and what issues have happened etc. While that sounds like a good idea, I guess, I feel a little exhausted just thinking about yet another meeting. I thought this was going to SIMPLIFY my life!

Shelly DeMeo
Rocky Hill Cohousing
Northampton, MA

Ne thing I am enjoying about cohousing is that there always seems to be somebody outside wanting to play and my boy runs out to join the action.
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