One of my pet peeves is when people compare cohousing to being in a family. Some families are awful! Of course, everyone tries their best, but some have so many issues. We have all met people who have left their families because it was the healthiest thing to do.
I always thought my family was dysfunctional, then I moved into cohousing and realized others came from real dysfunctional families. My family called themselves dysfunctional because they divorced in the 70s. My brother just went to a high school reunion and found that everyone else’s parents were divorcing then too. It was considered so bad and shameful. Of course it’s not fun, but it doesn’t necessarily make the family dysfunctional.
I wanted to move into cohousing because my mother was dying. We had a community neighborhood. She was down the street and my sister over the hill. I thought cohousing could be the same. I was wrong. My mother didn’t talk to me twice in our relationship. I hated it. But we met with a mediator and patched it up. With my family, I knew there was always a way back. In my cohousing, they didn’t show a way back. The conflict was the conflict and I would always be blamed and not let back in the fold. So, it seemed. They don’t love you like family. This group may love like their families of origin – conditionally.
Everyone has baggage and that comes out with conflict. Some come from trauma and relive that trauma. Others act in abusive ways. Of course, cohousing groups that function well have made methods in their community where everyone treats each other well, no matter what. Non Violent Communication is usually one of these tools. Most of us didn’t learn this from our family. We need to re learn to be a close community or organization.
Families can also look good from the outside. That is important to many families, especially if they blame one child for all the tension. Or there is alcoholism or drug addiction or other secrets. For me, I hate secrets. I can’t play that game.
You can see my family on my car. I bought those stickers that represent the family because I love seeing them. Well, my kids were mad at each other and soon the baby sticker was on the other side of the back window. They were taking out their frustrations on our bumper sticker version of the family. I added a dinosaur sticker so other drivers think a dinosaur did it instead.