Re: Elders vs. Kids
From: OC611NGC (
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 15:44:10 -0700 (PDT)
In our community there does not seem to be any effort to enable children to be integral parts of our social milieu. An observer can see that there are meetings for adults in which problems posed by children may be discussed, and there are meetings of a "Family Committee" that implies that only households with children qualify as families. The latter is a subset whose focus is to improve the child-friendly environment of the community. No separate group focuses on the desires of the elders, such as better lighting, improved safety, and a common house with indoor unpolluted air.

Thus, children are regarded as separate inhabitants of our community who need to have special expensive facilities devoted to them. The "Family Committee" has a separate budget which draws from our general expenses. I see no effort to enable children to offer contributions to the community in the hopes that they can have a role in providing support to defray some of the costs devoted to them. We have monthly work activities, but children are not part of the picture. Instead, the children are an expense. Most people like the presence of children. However, some of us feel that we do not have a child friendly environment because we adults do not devote a lot of time and energy into child centered activities and we tend to complain about the children.

We already have a large play room, an outdoor play area, a spa, and a swimming pool. But few adults want to get involved in kids activities, mainly because it can be exhausting. At one time, we did have a father who was actively involved in kid's fun activities, but he was chastised for being "too close" to the girls. So now we have those who lament that we do not have more adults involved with kids, and those who terminated whatever activity we did have because it was "too close".

There is a pattern followed in one-room schools where the older children act as tutors of the young ones. This builds self esteem and makes a young person feel valuable. When I was a child and my family had money troubles, we children were expected to pitch in and help wherever we could. We felt valuable to the family. If this kind of pattern could be established in our community, the children could contribute and value our community as much as the adults do.

Leaving the children out and making the adults the sole caretakers of the community breeds an "us vs. them" mentality.

Norm Gauss
Oak Creek Commons
Paso Robles, CA
----- Original Message ----- From: "Sharon Villines" <sharon [at]>
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Friday, July 11, 2008 2:19 PM
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Elders vs. Kids

On Jul 9, 2008, at 1:25 PM, Gloria Hoffman wrote:

In visiting several cohousing developments, I picked up some vibes
issues concerning the amount of resources and tolerance going to
kids vs.
elders and the disabled.

1. We have no issues related to disabled because our disabled are the
least demanding and most self-reliant people in the community. And the
most good natured.

2. Elders only shows up in issues of kids & parents vs adults without
young children, not elders specifically.

3. The best thing we have done in relation to tensions around kids is
to talk about it as a group. Many of the offensive behaviors fade away
after we have a session, even though we have made no "rules." Pets are
pretty much in the same category and talked about in the same meetings.

Noise is the biggest issue with kids, then running and rough housing
in the dining room. Ball playing in the piazza because it is an echo
chamber surrounded with three storeys of apartments and is noisy and
irritating when kids dribble or kick the balls against brick walls.
And then smaller things like climbing on the furniture in the CH.

Everyone wants more room for kids to do active play. We don't have a
rec room in the basement as many other communities do but parents
don't want their pre- and teens in a group where no one can see them.
We have just fenced in a piece of land where older kids can play but I
must say I have rarely seen them out there and my unit overlooks it.

We have a small kids room and tot lot, both last to about age 6. A
movie watching room for age 6 and up.

So I guess we deal with it by talking and trying to set aside

One issue that is hard for me personally is that no one discusses
parenting. No one. And there are many disagreements about how parents
parent. Primarily around manners and community expectations -- not
neglect or anything. Messy food habits.

I feel that as a cohousing community we should have some consistency
and to be teaching children to be well mannered. No one else wants to
touch it. In addition to all the games and processes for helping
people design communities, I wish there was some series of structured
discussions designed for adults and kids to discuss manners and good
habits. The child centered parenting it seems should also include
teaching good manners and habits, not just cleaning up after them with
no complaints and bussing them all over town to classes and other

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

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