What is intergenerational living?
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 09:10:37 -0700 (PDT)
> Ask your seniors and empty-nesters why they want intergenerational cohousing. 
>  Remind them about mess and noise and non-intentional neighbours (the parents 
> choose to live in cohousing but the kids don't make a choice).  Have them 
> record  their reasons for wanting intergenerational cohousing when it would 
> be just as easy to build seniors cohousing.

This is a quote from a recent  message on another subject that triggers another 
— what is intergenerational living?

Interestingly, discussions of  “intergenerational” zooms directly to tolerance 
of children making messes and noise. Some parents child-rearing expectations 
are that children _should_ make messes and noise because it expresses their 
true nature and develops something in their souls that they will need later. (I 
have not a clue what this is.)

Adults are also messy and make noise. Should they be equally protected? Why not?

> Have them record  their reasons for wanting intergenerational cohousing when 
> it would be just as easy to build seniors cohousing.

Intergenerational means intergenerational, not child focussed. If that is the 
goal, why not go develop child centered cohousing? Everything built around the 
needs of children as their parents have decided? The point of intergenerational 
is wanting children to experience the full age range of adult relationships. 
Children benefit from understanding life as many people do. To have a wider 
view than their parents have. Different age groups, those without children, 
etc. How else can they form a concept of what living a life is? What it can be?

The first cohousing start up group I found when I started looking at cohousing 
was brought together by a former nun who was then about 40, married with 2 
small children. She said “This nuclear family thing just doesn’t work." I can’t 
imagine that a community of 40 nuclear families would work either. 

One of the things my children benefited from as children was the range of 
adults they had as friends. They held conversations and talked to adults as if 
they were people too. Adults welcomed them when they walked into a room and 
started conversations with them too. They behaved as was appropriate for the 

I’ve had some physical problems recently that make it difficult to walk. A 
friend in Takoma Village has been taking me shopping, etc. She knows what I 
need before I do. One day she was going to let  me off in front of the store 
and then go park. I said "I don’t need you to do that." She said, "Act your age 
and get out of the car.” She was right. I would have gotten tired too soon if I 
had walked across the parking lot and then tried to walk through the store.

I commented on her ability to guess what I needed and she said “Oma. My 
grandmother always lived with us so all our lives it was automatic to 
understand what she needed.”

A friend whose husband was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s found it a relief 
to have her 9-year-old grandson visit because he understood what his 
grandfather wanted and couldn’t express. The 9-year-od was more accepting of 
present needs than his grandmother who was angry and impatient and overwhelmed.

When I think of senior cohousing, it isn’t the children that I could do without 
but their 30-something parents who are just confronting fully adult life and 
are so self absorbed — understandably — with “their” careers and “their” 
children. And knowing everything because they are educated and modern. But they 
are the ones who can benefit from having seniors around to remind them that 
life doesn’t start at 30 or end at 40 and that children are people, not cute 

A community of 30-somethings and their children wouldn’t be a good place to 
live for the adults or their children. Particularly the children. That’s what I 
fear when I hear about the growth of senior cohousing.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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