Re: Senior's needs? (was Achieving age diversity)
From: James Kacki (
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2006 20:57:45 -0800 (PST)
Beautifully stated,Lia!!

Lia Olson wrote:
I have to preface that I'm not currently living in co-housing (that's my dream
for the future), but the issue of senior vs. kids needs--especially as
articulated by sharon--seems to really speak to larger issues.
Let me say this --as someone about to celebrate a 60th birthday, I'm in the
senior camp.  At the same time, I am a single mother who was as child-centered,
child-focused as they come.  Basically, I chose to remain single and put my
energy into providing a stellar start for my precious son during my prime
coupling years and I would do it again, despite the fact that it's not really
fun to find myself living alone at my age.
Here's the thing.  Putting my son first and foremost did not mean that I didn't
teach him how to live in harmony with others.  Believe it or not, we had
candlelit civilized dinners every night.  And, you know what, we almost NEVER
were alone, because his friends practically clawed their way into invitations
to participate in our gentle rituals.  My good friend says now that her son
rarely wanted to eat at home, but chose to hang out at our house because he
loved the beauty, civility and respect evident at our dinner table.  Frankly,
he rarely was absent, because meals at his home were free form and flexible to
the point that they didn't feed his spirit.
Are we sure that kids want to run wild at mealtimes?   That has NOT been my
experience.  That might be what they do without structure, but I wonder if lack
of limits doesn't correlate with lack of meaning?
I found that when I integrated these wild children into a meaningful way of
being together, they acted like plants deprived of moisture suddenly watered. My friend's son, now grown and moving into a marriage commitment, swears that
he will institute the sort of limits and opportunities he found in my home when
he becomes a father.
Is it possible that kids don't really want to run wild and trample on the
rights and needs of others?  That is my humble experience, and I wonder if it
has been explored in co-housing communities, or whether the ideal of "freedom"
has pre-empted exploration into what children really need.  It sure isn't the
constrictive milieu of the 50's, but I wonder if there isn't something more
nurtuing we can offer children that involves empathy, sensitivity, and
responsiveness to beauty, ritual, and sensitivity.  There are times to shed
restictions and simply explore the riches of the universe with abandon, but are
community meals one of those experiences?
Expecting piotshots, but still beliving in the integrity of my question,

--- Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> wrote:e

On Nov 11, 2006, at 11:52 AM, Andrew Netherton wrote:

So what do seniors need?


The space that communities can afford does not allow for special kids spaces AND completely separate kid free spaces. More and more space seems always to be needed by the kids, particularly in urban apartment style communities where you can't let kids roam outside alone.

Personally, I wouldn't want to live in a kid-free community but often parents are not willing to resolve the conflicts that result from adults (not all seniors) wanting some spaces to be peanut butter and jelly fingers free or out of bounds of soccer balls. Having to ask children to leave doesn't feel like a good option. Constantly picking up after children gets old when one has already picked up after one's own for years and years.

Child-friendly too often drifts to child-centered and child-centered has become a common parenting style.

On the other hand, children provide wonderful entertainment and serve as wheel-greasers between households. I'm not sure how this happens in a senior community.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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