Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What about the Children?

This, in a sense, is a continuation of my post on Issues in Community: Children (1/26/13).  I want to explore more about some of the questions raised, not only by raising children in community, but in any unorthodox setting.  I know people fear that somehow children will be damaged by this, but it doesn't seem to be the case.

First, something I meant to include in my post on children in community is a little bit about children at the Acorn community.  Whereas Twin Oaks has raised many children, it hasn't worked out as well at Acorn.  People have started families at Acorn, but then moved on.  I know one person who decided to move to TO to raise a child b/c he thought it would be a better setting for a kid.  (TO has more experience with children and there are also more children around.)  But I also know a couple at Acorn that just had a child and seem determined to raise him there.  I do hope it works out--someone has to change that cycle.

But there are other settings that people wonder about raising children in.  One that has come and gone is the counterculture of the 1960s.

Wild Child (edited by Chelsea Cain) is a collection of essays from women who grew up in 'hippie'/'counterculture' type households.  Not necessarily communities (although there's definitely mentions of 'communes') but an interesting look at what being raised in a free and open environment was like from a grown up girl's perspective.  Most of the experiences were mixed, and one (from a young woman who was sexually used and abused in the name of 'free love') is horrific, but there's also a strong thread of enjoying the freedom that comes when you know it's okay to be different.  One woman who grew up in a very non-countercultural (in fact, fairly repressed) household talks about the afternoon she spent visiting a hippie family in the neighborhood and of the positive impact that had on her life.  Another woman, who tells how her family was changed when her parents got involved with an unconventional couple ends her essay by saying her parents have no idea now where that couple is, "But a breeze continues to blow through the window that they opened."  In many cases, being raised in unconventional setting has opened door for people.  This is true even if they decide to live a seemingly more conventional lifestyle

And then there are questions about children being raised by GLBTQ parents, and even more questions about children being raised in families where people are practicing polyamory.  Fortunately, there are studies that indicate that families with polyamorous relationships can still raise children well

It will be interesting to see how these kids take on the world.  A few years back I saw something about a new group wanting to claim a space on the queer spectrum, claiming that they were 'sexually straight, but culturally queer'.  I assumed that this was some wannabe group, until I realized that this was a group of young adults raised by gay and lesbian parents.  And then I realize that they really were culturally queer--these are our children.

Again, from my own experience in having helped raise two children in communal household, I'm pleased at how they turned out.  This is not to say that there aren't horror stories of abuse in these varied settings, but I'm not sure that there's any more than in more conventional settings.  That is to say, you can raise a child well or you can raise a child poorly regardless of the setting.

Quote of the Day:
  "It turns out I am part of a tribe... I am proud that I ... will never have beige carpeting in my house, will never own or wear a skirt suit, will never rever misogynistic steak-house politics, and will never be a Rules girl, obedient to some outdated, fifties model of partnership.  I find that there is a common bond and an actual language that is immediately understood by super-crunchy-granola types... Growing up, between two worlds, I learned to judge people by their actions, not their outsides." - Moon Zappa

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