Re: Paying Teenagers
From: Pare Gerou (
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2015 08:08:22 -0800 (PST)
Sharon- I have a teenager who lived in cohousing.  He was required, without
pay, to do his mandatory workday work (garden and landscape work usually)
and to do his work in the Common House in order to get Common House
privileges (vacuuming mostly) so he could be allowed to be alone there.  He
could earn more money by doing things for his neighbors.  This was the only
way he had to earn money. He advertised and got paid for collecting bottles
to take to the market for deposit, helping with cleaning and other projects
with neighbors, and teaching chess lessons to a few children.  This
generally worked very well, although there was one family who paid girls to
babysit but felt that paying a boy to carry boxes was not right.  I think
the key is to have structured mandatory work or structured work for
privileges so they do not feel that everything they do they should get paid
for, but at the same time they should also feel that they are valued, and
this I believe is a challenge for cohousing communities.

I believe that, if we had had a teen advisory committee that had meaningful
impact on community decisions, that my tween would have volunteered for
certain projects in the community more rather than performing only his
mandatory work and work for privileges.  Another way to think about the
issue you bring up is to ask how to make teenagers more a part of the
process so they feel invested and valued and that their interests are
heard.  The volunteering then would likely occur naturally just as,
frankly, adults volunteer because they realize they are part of something
they are helping to build and that values them.  By the end of several
years there, my son was running to the moving vans and volunteering to help
unload boxes for new owners.  This is because people had treated him like
he belonged, and he felt invested in that and enthusiastic to pass that
feeling along, but he did not feel the same way about community decisions
and power, so he did not run to help with a project he had no part in
building.  Including teens and teaching them best process and governance
practices will ensure a new generation of evolving and even better
cohousing---- if that is possible :)

Pare Gerou
1725 Belvedere Place
Charlottesville, VA 22901

On Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 10:20 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]
> wrote:

> I'm conflicted about the issue of paying teenagers to help with tasks that
> an adult community member would just do for me, like taking out my trash
> and recycling when I'm sick. Running across the street to the market.
> Helping me repot plants. Break up the ice in my parking space.
> It seems clear that if I ask a 15-year-old to come work for an hour or two
> to help with chores that I would pay them. But if another person would just
> clear off the snow on my car gratis or grab my trash when taking out
> theirs, should I pay a teenager to do it?
> Since I want teenagers to feel more like members of the community, why not
> expect them to be part of the community?
> There is some line here that is blurry. Since they are often saving money
> for something, they need money. Sometimes to pay for their own phone or a
> new bicycle helmet or something their parent has said yes but you have to
> earn the money. Since they are in school and often helping at home as well,
> having a job is not practical. So paying teenagers is helping them earn the
> typical teenage necessities and it's helping the parents as much as the
> teens.
> What do other communities do about this?
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.