Re: creating cohesive cohousing kids' culture
From: Laura Fitch (
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2008 05:44:45 -0700 (PDT)
I think the best things that we have done at Pioneer Valley Cohousing (14
years of raising kids in community) are:

- yearly retreat with good quality kids programs (while adults are meeting,
and talent show)
- coordinated summer camp here in the community (about 3 summers when we had
lots of young kids, we hired counselors, had field trips, etc)
- regular meals (we have always had two meals a week - and kids are expected
to "join the circle" before the meal when announcements are made.
- parents encouraging kids participation in meal work (setup, cook, dishes -
this is usually done side by side with a parent)
- parents encouraging kids participation in work days (about 4 per year):
everything from helping plant trees, to baking cookies
- parents agreeing early on that it is okay and desirable to have other
people speak to each others kids (with the assumption that it is respectful,
that kids will listen to other adults, and that the adults and kids will
inform the parents if the conversation was not satisfactory)
- occasional informal support-groups and salons
- immediate community meetings after major problems occurred (theft,
vandalism, etc - only two that I can think of in 14 years, but very
effective and respectful)
- long term men's and women's groups that are a good forum for sharing
parenting troubles, joys, advice, etc.

Laura Fitch, AIA, LEED
Kraus-Fitch Architects, Inc
110 Pulpit Hill Rd.
Amherst, MA  01002
lfitch [at]

-----Original Message-----
From: Gerald Manata [mailto:gmanata2003 [at]]
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2008 1:22 AM
To: Cohousing-L
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ creating cohesive cohousing kids' culture

     I will be watching this conversation with interest. After 4 years of
existence, our cohousing complex has never discussed or brought up this
issue. Parenting and raising children,as well as the relationship between
parents and non-parents  is very traditional here, not at all like a village
or extended family, but more like an upscale middle class condominium

Karen Scheer <karen [at]> wrote:
After numerous conversations between parents at our newly established 13
home cohousing community, Bear Grass Village, we would like to consult
with other communities about helping our children to establish
relationships/ /with each other where respect and cooperation are the
norm (rather than competition and disrespect which has been occurring
more frequently than we are comfortable with).  Others must have gone
through a similar period of adjustment to this unique style of living,
more akin to an extended family or tiny village than to a typical
neighborhood.  Also, what has helped parents learn to co-parent with
other families?

The Scene:
We are working hard to develop the landscaping, finish our yards,
furnish & decorate our common house, etc., so there is much transition
still going on here.  Our children range in age from two teeny tiny
babies to one 12 year old who has avoided participating in any way.
Currently, there are 2 girls in the community, 2 & 3 yrs. old; the rest
are boys.

We have been working together to establish simple behavior guidelines
which apply to all situations that we can teach and reinforce, like
"Stop means Stop" and "No means No."  Most of the children are too young
to generate their own list of "rules."  Most of the adults are reluctant
to create a lengthy list of "no's" and would rather the kids learn to
work out the issues with a little guidance from adults.

Thanks in advance for your input!  I hope that I have provided enough
information to convey the general picture without too much labeling,
which causes much discomfort to us parents who are all feeling differing
amounts of frustration & protectiveness.

Karen Scheer
Bear Grass Village
Ashland, OR

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