Re: off limits to kids?
From: Bonnie Fergusson (
Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2006 11:43:09 -0700 (PDT)
    At Swans I believe children are not allowed in the
workshop, and must be supervised in the exercise room,
and even the kids room (which has floor to ceiling
windows).  The machinery is potentially dangerous, and
the potential emotional and legal consequences to the
community of a bad accident are too great to trifle
with.  Parent's who don't want the community to have a
say in when/where their kids can do whatever are
predictably quite unlikely to be happy in cohousing in
the long run.  The reality is that the flip side to
"it takes a village to raise a child" is that the
whole village has a say in how things are done.  The
ways in which your neighbors in cohousing will affect
the raising of your kids are many, subtle, and deep;
the issue of supervision or no access to potentially
dangerous areas is the tip of the iceberg.  Don't try
to hurry past this one.  Long,deep discussions,
possibly facilitated by an outside expert would be my
recommendation.  The more you work through some of
this beforehand the happier you will be later.
    The benefits are enormous in my opinion, close
relationships with many non family adults are part of
the richness of community which many people morn the
loss of in our modern lifestyles.  You don't even
realize how wonderful the interactions can be until
you experience them.  But there is hard stuff, too. 
It's harder to stay in denial about anything in
Cohousing.  And you are confronted about the
consequences of your decisions early rather than late.
 This is actually an advantage in the long run but
doesn't always feel terrific at the time.  Learning to
trust and listen to each others concerns and
accomodating them is at the heart of community.
    My personal belief is that the peculiarly American
notion that your children are your property and child
rearing your personal hobby and no one else's
business, is an artifact of the fact that most of us
come from immigrants who had to cut family and
community ties to come here and so we developed this
rather extreme individualism.
In most other parts of the world, it is tacitly
assumed that the community has a stake in the family
since how the children grow up affects us all in the
long run.  Good luck in working this out, it's much
deeper and more important than you may realize at
first look.
                Bonnie Fergusson
                 Swan's Market Cohousing
                  Oakland, CA

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