Are there any modern communes in the US or a way i can co-parent?
August 18, 2010 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Are there any modern communes in the US where people live in groups, share responsibilities, maybe are conscious, green etc? Relatedly, is there a way to be the 3rd or 4th parent? Being a single parent or even in dyad parenting seems like too much responsiblity...but being the 3rd or 4th parent (to go to soccer games, PTA meeting, car pool, make lunchs) sounds like a responsibility i could handle. I don't live in a community with children around so i can't offer up my co-parent services and it also sounds a bit creepy being 37 and wanting to babysit. Is there a way i can create this kind of community? I feel that i would make a great back up mommy.
posted by UltraD to Human Relations (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about the communes but isn't what you describe kinda the modern conception of the Christian "godparent" role?
posted by XMLicious at 1:02 PM on August 18, 2010

Co-housing might be for you. It's not communes, per se, because communes tend to have continual funding issues. But they're intentional communities, and might offer the experiences you're looking for.
posted by ldthomps at 1:03 PM on August 18, 2010 lists intentional communities by area. Sounds like just what you're after.
posted by flod logic at 1:15 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't know about communes either, but multiple co-parenting sounds like a polyamory sort of thing to me. How do you feel about that?
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2010

Yes, co-housing. As an example, here's a new community that supports famlies and green living.
posted by rumposinc at 1:18 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you are describing a church.... People in churches are always looking for members of the congregation to help babysit, cook meals for new mothers, take kids to soccer games, and visit the sick and elderly to offer encouragement. Of course, this would probably mean you really commit yourself to the community.
posted by yoyoceramic at 1:34 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about being a Big Sister, or volunteering at a local elementary school?
posted by ambrosia at 1:49 PM on August 18, 2010

Flod Logic's link to Intentional Communities didn't work but a wikipedia link well describes what they are about and lists some more information. It could be what you want. (I am a member of an IO in Australia and I love the interaction I have with my co-members' kids).
posted by Kerasia at 1:53 PM on August 18, 2010

Try a search for ecovillages.
posted by chez shoes at 1:55 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try also searching on "Intentional Communities". That's a buzzword I heard from my sister, who used to live in such a place (I gather the term has something to do with the fact that you get some say in who your neighbors are). You might also check THIS MeFi thread: The topic is only tangentially related, but a couple of people posted links/information that may be of interest in terms of finding established communities.
posted by Ys at 2:09 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree that your search terms are ecovillages, cohousing, and intentional community. There are a number that advertise themselves, and then there are approaches that are under the radar (a few friends buy adjacent houses and remove the fences, that sort of thing). If you are interested, you can start your own cohousing community. The established communities sometimes have members who earn money by leading trainings about how to start your own.

You might also like books by Dolores Hayden, who writes about the intersection of family life and urban planning. Redesigning the American Dream is one of her more recent books on this topic.
posted by slidell at 2:44 PM on August 18, 2010

Have you thought of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program?
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:44 PM on August 18, 2010

We had a friend who lived with us for a number of years, until my oldest son was about 18 months. The role you imagine for yourself is a wonderful one for everybody--he is still very close to our kids, and having an extra pair of hands is so great. We have friends, another couple with kids, and we have joked about all moving in together after doing a couple of vacations together--with three or four adults around, it is always possible for ONE adult to be doing something other than hands-on childcare, and it's great.

In your shoes, I'd, yes, consider co-housing or something similar. But you might also look for a single-mom housemate (or two). Or you might just make your interest in kids known--I don't think it's creepy at all to want to babysit or otherwise spend time with people's kids. I have several non-parent friends whose affection and interest in my kids is a real gift. I also have a friend who is a 50+ year old man who works as a nanny, and he has definitely had to overcome the "what kind of guy would want to work with babies and young children?" thing but he has a gift and the families he works with love him. So please don't think you're creepy at all.
posted by not that girl at 2:56 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that most intentional communities have far more inquiries than they can handle. What you want is a common(ish) desire. Think about visiting intentional communities and putting in work to develop your own. There are many people out there who would LOVE to have someone like you as part of their world. If I were having kids right now, I would love to have someone like you around. What you want is out there! In all likelihood, people who live near you are of like mind.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:06 PM on August 18, 2010

I'm currently several months into being one of three equal parents. For us, yes, it's an outstanding way for three people with fulltime careers to share baby care and give our son all the love, attention and resources he needs. 3 to 1 is a very, very good ratio. :)

But if what you want is not a three-adult romantic relationship that produces a child, but rather an informal/flexible set of "extra parent" opportunities, then you certainly want to look at labor-sharing intentional communities where child care is counted equally as labor (as well it should be).

Probably the best-known example of a community that works like this is Twin Oaks ( They have a visitor program that's open to everyone, so you could go there and see how it works. And if this is an option, they also have a Women's Gathering coming up this weekend where you could both get a lot of info/resources and meet members of the community without committing to a full visit.

Aside from Twin Oaks, there are many hundreds of other communities listed at, the definitive guide to communities worldwide. Different communities will all have slightly different approaches to childrearing. In the descriptions, look for phrases like "labor-sharing," "income-sharing," and "communal childcare." You can also post on their free ReachBook in the Seeking Community category, asking a question similar to this one, and you may well get some interesting responses.

Message or email me if you want.
posted by kalapierson at 3:17 PM on August 18, 2010

Find friends with children. Invite the friends and their children over. Interact with the children. If you develop a relationship with the children, then it won't be creepy at all to offer to babysit. The parents will be grateful to have some time to themselves.
posted by novalis_dt at 4:45 PM on August 18, 2010

There are a number of communes and communal living arrangements here in St. Louis, but I am not aware of any where shared childrearing is an intentional part of the set-up.
posted by hworth at 6:26 PM on August 18, 2010

Yes, there are communities like this in berkley ca.
posted by bananafish at 10:37 PM on August 18, 2010

Sounds like you want to be a nanny.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:12 AM on August 19, 2010

thanks for the replies & resources! looks like intentional communities are what i'm looking for.

Offering my babysitting/nanny services is a bit less involved than i was looking for, but perhaps that's a start. To the parents that i have offered my nanny/babysitting services (live-in would be great!) to, but they don't take me up on it, i think, b/c they don't see my single city lifestyle as something that would include raising children. My friends are a bit conservative when it comes to raising children & have enough resources for babysitting.
posted by UltraD at 6:49 AM on August 19, 2010

« Older Help me find the perfect dining table   |   Home Library Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.