I’m a mother, activist, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Portland, Oregon. I live in a forested cohousing community with my partner, 2 sons and our elderly dog.
We choose cohousing because it’s aligns with our values as well as desires for community. Our individualistic culture seems to be damaging our society, via isolation and disconnection. Living in community offers more chance to connect with others (though it’s no guarantee of connection, as the preconditions include knowing how to connect and cultivate close relationships).
Our values of sharing physical goods, appliances, gardens, and food align with our values of environmental stewardship and caring for each other. Sharing parenting responsibilities, even in the small moments, is a glorious benefit of cohousing. Just yesterday, a neighbor reminded my children not to play in the elevator- and they listened! I appreciate having kind, compassionate neighbors to help shepherd my children into making responsible decisions. In most single-family households in our culture, parents are stuck making all the rules, enacting all the discipline. Having a relief pitcher now and then benefits us all!
Along with these appreciations, my favorite thing about cohousing is the autonomy it offers my children, as compared to ‘typical’ U.S. culture. My school-aged children are free to run about on our 4 acres for hours at a time, without adult supervision. This has offered them opportunities to problem-solve conflict among the kid group, try out new and risky (real or perceived) behaviors without an adult hovering over them. Our kids become smart with their bodies- they know which trees they can climb and how high, because they’ve had the opportunity to try and discover their own limitations (not the ones we, adults, tend to put upon them). I am proud of these characteristics in my children and see that they have more confidence and more trust in themselves. These qualities are growing resilient children who, as adults, won’t rely on others to tell them what they are and aren’t capable of.