A Community that Provides for the Needs and Aspirations of Families Raising Children
There was a time when family meant aunts and uncles, grandparents, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces all living under the same roof, or at least nearby. The support systems were huge and the pressure on parents was less. Then we shifted into the nuclear family of father, mother and children. The pressure increased, and it increased again when both parents found they had to work in order to pay the bills. Families began to be crushed by the pressure, resulting in solo parents and remarriages or live-in partnerships. Increasingly, parents came to rely on paid services such as day-care, and on electronic media, to keep the children occupied.
Parents who have the time to observe become concerned about their children, about the values they are learning, and how they are being prepared for their future. Life has, for children, become harder, less kind. Many parents are looking for a better way, but cannot find it. The VillageTown offers what they seek.
We expect that some villages will specifically be formed for parenting. Parents of young children will come together to form truly sustainable communities, meaning they will have a constant life-cycle of young, middle and old. Some elements that relieve the pressure on parenting young children include:
- Proximity and outdoor living. Villages are active, the streets and plaza draw children away from TV, computers and video games, to play in the streets, on the plazas and out in the greenbelt. Adults are all around, and parents can share child-minding, either informally, or as an organized system. Parents will invest in extra beds, for what in New Zealand is called the sleep-over (where young, pre-teen children visit each other overnight). Proximity means parents work nearby and giving them more time for their children.
- The complete community, especially having a place for elders. The support role of elders is usually un-monetized, and often not noticed. It is a mutual support system, as it fulfils the elder as much as it provides a connection for the young. With their presence, parents can get more breathing space.
- The local economy. It costs less to live. Less money needs to be spent on keeping children entertained, especially if the TV advertising can be shut off.
When children of the VillageTown come into their teens, it can be expected that the transition will be less difficult on the parents because of the inherent freedom that is part of VillageTown life. It is safe for teens to gather in the youth zone or in the Town Center. Some of the abusive habits that are common in the suburbs will be harder to hide in a pedestrian 24/7 community, where adults are present. Also, the guild halls and other social and cultural activity provide more things to do, less invitation to get into trouble; these places and the activities they foster make life more interesting.
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