For children, the environment of the intentional community can provide important advantages that few nuclear families are in a position to give. With the dissolution of the extended family and with increasing personal and interpersonal alienation, these advantages are amplified. In the 20 communal groups visited, the observer found significant variation in the degree to which these potential advantages have come to be realized. In each, difficulties–personal, interpersonal and physical–have presented themselves. In the few instances where neither the biological parents nor the extended family of the commune has provided the necessary environment of basic trust, the children have evidenced this lack. Where major difficulties have been overcome and the commune members have been able to realize some of the potential advantages of communal child rearing, the reward has been children who demonstrate self-confidence, openness, warmth, independence and maturity.

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