I am writing today on my step-daughter’s birthday. She made me an instant parent over 20 years ago. It was baptism by fire. All the changes in her life didn’t sit well with a 5 year old and I found paperwork from the school lately that said she had a bit of post traumatic stress disorder. For her, suddenly, she has this new adult in her life. So, when we were at a big box store and I told her she could not have a candy bar, she literally melted down. I do remember somehow getting her out of the store but she was wriggling on the ground by the door as I held her hand so she wouldn’t run away (later at school she was labeled a runner and gave workouts to some teachers). As my mom loaded the car with all our stuff, I just let her cry it out and kick and flail. People walked by and say comments about the joys of parenting or to spank her or whatever. I just ignored them. I put her in the car and buckled her and within 10 minutes of driving, she was fast asleep. Now she’s a wonderful grown woman who is kind and calm and resilient.
Moving to cohousing, I”m not sure how many people realize that you will be parenting in a fish bowl. We hope you won’t be judged but people will see how you parent and may have opinions on it. And your style could clash with others. I think the most important is just the points where it interacts with other neighbors of all ages and how to promote thinking of others among everyone.
I was talking to someone whose ex husband lives in cohousing so she hears of the struggles of parenting styles being very different than most others. She wondered how hard that could be. Parenting is so personal these days. It’s a verb and tied up with a lot of people’s identities. Then, to move into cohousing where it could be criticized or cause problems or judged, that must be hard for many parents.
She pondered how you couldn’t really escape it either. In most neighborhoods you can have the kids play in the yard but cohousing tends to have small yards and most of the play areas are shared spaces.
Having to defend your parenting style could be exhausting. I know one cohousing parent was feeling the pressure and said “I felt like my own personal parenting philosophy was being overridden by others’ preferences.”
I was most excited to hear about cohousing as a parent. I imagined by toddler running around with all the neighborhood kids. Then I moved into cohousing and the toddler had grown into a pre-teen and all the other kids were preschoolers. I was jealous of those parents – watching their kids having the times of their lives. However, within a year, problems were popping up and suddenly, I wasn’t jealous anymore. I hadn’t thought of the serious conflicts. What if some of the kids are acting out violently? How will the community deal with bullying? (which I later found can be an issue with adults too). There can be even worse concerns but I’ll wait a ton of posts before I add that.
Anyways, I thought I’d just put out some food for thought. Goldfish food this time.