Treating Kids like Dogs

The comment traffic on this blog is picking up, which is great, though i am not able to respond to all of them as i once did, which makes me a bit sad.  In response to a comment by Keenan about kids being a deal breaker for people moving into community – when we don’t have room for them,  i got this comment from Courtney:

I am confused about the concept of having an upper limit on kids, as you do on dogs…

i did not have time to respond to it before i hopped in the car and went to my last sales calls for this hammocks marketing trip, which gave me a lot of time to think about it on my way back from Connecticut to Death City.  I decided i have three different leaves of answers: defensive, contextual and aggressive.  Here they are:

Defensive Response:  The community thinks of our children as ours, not just those of the parents.  We want to be asked about pregnancy and family planning.   Part of this is simply pragmatic – we want a generous child care program.  We want parents to not feel stressed about covering their quota obligations to the community and doing a good job raising their kids, which takes time.  If you compare our “maternity and paternity” leave policies, we make the Scandinavian countries policies (the most generous in the world) look stingy.  We won’t even talk about comparing the paltry US parental leave policies with those of the commune.  We feel like we can afford to have one child per 5 working adult members, so this creates a cap on the number of kids we can accommodate at any given time.  Sadly, we have had to turn away a number of great families who wanted to join us in times when we did not have any kid spaces available.

Contextual Response:  It is completely true that we limit both children and dogs.  We also limit adults (by the number of bedrooms in the community) and cars (17 for quite some years, despite increasing population and demand).  We limit the number of businesses we have (currently 5) and only change it after a bunch of process.  We limit our allowance (currently around $85 per month.)And how often you can take a prolonged leave from the community (once every three years, for as long as a year) and return as a member without doing process upon your return.  We limit the amount of time you can owe the community money or labor.  We limit the number of guns and motorcycles you can have personally (zero each).  In fact, we limit many different aspects of living in community.

Aggressive Response:  The notion that people should be able to have as many children as they want or that the community should take as many as anyone might want to bring is unsustainable and naively privileged.   The mainstream culture, which requires licences for dogs and cars, pretty much lets anyone who wants to have as many kids as they like.  The results are that lots of kids don’t get the attention or access to resources they need to thrive.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have a kid growing up in community; i hope to create more of these types of places for more kids to grow up.  But i don’t presume this is somehow an unlimited opportunity which anyone can just stroll up and say they deserve.

Paxus42

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Tags: , , , , ,

About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

9 responses to “Treating Kids like Dogs”

  1. richard w. lisko says :

    This piece reminds me of a poet I heard on the radio yesterday and her reference to her first sight of LA and seeing it as an over breeding problem.

  2. ezrafreeman says :

    Good post, Pax. I like what you have to say here. It’s true that while I appreciate all of the resources, time, etc. that the community gives me to raise and homeschool my kids, I also wish we were more open to outside folks with kids. As I have spent more time here, and more time raising kids, I see that the relationship between number of kids and amount of resources it takes to raise them is not strictly linear. That is, 8 kids do not take four times as much time and money as two kids, and that you can do a lot with ‘economies of scale,’ especially if parents are willing to take a cut in the amount of $, hours, and rooms given to their own kids in order to take in more. But that’s a whole different conversation. Ennyhoo, this was an interesting read. Thx

    • paxus says :

      Thx Ez. And we are in broad agreement, i do think the place would be better off with half again to twice as many kids. Perhaps we should sit and scheme about how to make this happen.

  3. tickledspirit says :

    It seems like there’s been (yet another) shift in the childcare scene at TO since the time when I lived there (8 years ago). Then, childcare was largely 1 on 1, and folks doing childcare took half-credit for it, to stretch the amount of hours available. Now the collective schooling that happens every weekday morning allows a couple communards to take full credit, the kids to learn from each other and develop cross-age relationships more fully. I imagine the childcare labor budgets go farther now — with kids having only one primary (1 on 1) per day, rather than 2. And it seems like even then, some folks do multiple kids per primary.

    So what’s my point? I guess it’s what Ezra was saying, that economies of scale allow for more possibilities. Kids are happier with other kids to play and learn with, and peers are important. I’d be excited to see TO go through a child ratio revolution… Go for it, Ez and Paxus!

  4. Kip Gardner says :

    While having only been a visitor at conference time over the years, I would have to say that I’ve always found TO to be a kid-friendly environment (Hannah always loved coming to the conference). On the other side, conversations with some TO parents over the years led Beth & I to both get the impression that TO isn’t (or maybe it’s more fair to say “wasn’t”, since it’s been a while since we’ve been there) a PARENT or FAMILY friendly environment. I wonder how the parents who are there now would characterize it?

    • paxus says :

      Twin Oaks is definitely a mixed bag around kid and family friendly, and my kid would not rather live anywhere else and it definitely works for my poly fmmily

  5. Chrystie says :

    I had to share the aggressive response on my facebook. It was too spot on for me to ignore.

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