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.


[Edited by Judy Youngquest]