Re: Paying Teenagers
From: Jessie Kome (
Date: Sun, 1 Mar 2015 06:35:13 -0800 (PST)

Both my kids grew up in Cohousing. The younger one is almost 21 now and can't 
remember much outside Cohousing. Both kids have done lots of free things for 
the community, and been paid for some things. When we first moved in to Eno 
Commons, Harry was 3 and he wanted a drum set. looking for a deterrent, I told 
him I would split the cost with him. Dern if he didn't find neighbors to pay 
him to bring their papers to their doors in the morning and to take trash to 
the dumpster. 

Our daughter Georgia participated in cooking teams starting before Eno Commons 
move in. At 5, she loved making pancakes and got pretty good at it. By the time 
she was a teen, she could cook anything, and specialized in awesome vegan 
cupcakes. She cooked for free, and charged for babysitting. But she charged 
community members less than the going rate, reasoning that that was both a 
community contribution and a way to corner the market. And she would do short 
sits for free, say for a new mom who just wanted a nap or shower. She also 
charged for pet- and house-sitting, again at a cut rate.

Neither Eastern Village Cohousing, where I live now, or Eno Commons, where we 
lived until 2002, had formal policies around paying kids for some work. It just 

What advantage does anyone see to making policy in this area?

Jessie Handforth Kome
Eastern Village Cohousing
Silver Spring, Maryland
"Where, just for the fun of it, a bunch of little kids shoveled us out from our 
last storm."

Sent from my iPad

> On 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
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