Disclaimer This will seem a very odd question to most of you, but it fits the topics of this site and I don't know anywhere else to ask it. In case you are wondering, what follows is perfectly serious. I am not trying to troll you.

I would like to ask if there is a place where a child can be fostered by professional education experts, in a community, family-less institution, with high standards and without second purposes such as pushing a specific religion or a way of life onto them.

Why not an orphanage? Something like an orphanage is a first approximation, but orphanages are usually a last choice for children, in terms of quality. Educators try to do their best with a high share of problematic, traumatized children. Since they do not have parents to answer to, they are not strictly controlled for the quality of their job. They are not the best paedagogy experts the market can offer, but a last resort for children who have no other alternatives. Moreover, orphanages are often run by religious institutes, which have their own beliefs to advance. Think something more like a permanent non-religious boarding school which goes from 0 to 18 years than an orphanage.

Why not a step-family? Step- and foster-parents are also universally seen as a second choice. The child would still grow up in a family-like environment, not with professionals, with all the inefficiencies I perceive in the family model. Foster-parents are not experts in any sense of the meaning, and may feel less emotional attachment to the step-child (especially if they have other children of their own). The child would know that they are in an "inferior" arrangement than their school friends. To sum up, for the child, a step-family has all the cons of a biological family, and less pros.

Why not a commune? Mostly, because of the people. People in communes often have their own peculiar view of life and personal beliefs to advance. The leading principle is "we grow up our children, together, our way"; not "we have professionals grow up our children in the best possible way". If I were to join a commune as a parent, I'd have to take my share of the burden of educating and caring after children, probably in equal shares with the other members, and I don't feel qualified. I could fit a role in which I teach them lectures in my area of expertise, but I don't think I am the right person for taking care of a child 24/7.

Why am I asking this? This is a theoretical question; I have no children and I am not expecting any. But the answer is for my own child, potentially. I do not believe in the traditional family model. I find it inefficient and dangerous for the children: most parents are not well qualified to grow a child, in my opinion, and I am no better than them. I would like to try a more centralized institution, an alternative to the family model in which children grow up as their parent wish. I realize that this may be costly, but raising a child in any other possible way is expensive, too.

Have I read too many science-fiction books? Perhaps. This is completely different from the traditional view of family. But with 6 billion people in the world, I would be surprised if no one ever tried something like this.

So, my question is if such a place/institute exists.

Is there any institution that does this in the world?

I am based in Europe, so a European solution would be most welcome.

I am not trying to discuss the merits of this view with respect to a traditional family; this would be subjective and argumentative and too broad for a Q/A site. I am just looking for pointers.

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    My gut reaction is that "education" is only a very small part of what a child needs growing up. While the traditional family model has some flaws, there is a need for emotional and social development which that model is capable of meeting. The "best possible way" for a kid to grow up is hugely subjective, even among education experts.
    – Acire
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 15:08
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    I agree with @Erica - You say "most parents are not well qualified to grow a child, in my opinion, and I am no better than them. I would like to try a more centralized institution". That seems to be overlooking everything that research says is one of the most important things for "proper" development: a dedicated, loving parent. No one, no matter how well paid, will love your child like you do. Education and socialization come long after the initial period when trust is formed. Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 16:04
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    While it's interesting to speculate, I myself don't know of any cradle-to-grave (or earlier) caregiving system that replaces or improves upon the nuclear family. I'm sure there have been experiments of this kind done somewhere in the past, especially (just a hunch) in communist or totalitarian regimes. These tend, though, to favor the continuation of the state over the well-being of the individual. I'm not suggesting horrible, uncaring parents. I'm just being realistic. I'm unfamiliar with studies of that kind, but googling is your best shot at finding them. Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 16:21
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    The British boarding school system has been discussed lately in the media with regard to long-term effects on the emotional shortcomings of their participants. It has even got a name: Boarding School Syndrome. And if I read your question correctly, this kind of upbringing is what you had in mind from a much earlier stage in life.
    – Stephie
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 20:41
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    anonymous - why not put in the effort yourself to learn and train yourself to be what you need to be for your child? You may think that you are under-qualified, but as those above mentioned, 'family' has worked for thousands of years despite the lack of training. Sure, the modern world has moved away a bit from extended family living in the same house providing experience across generations, but you can make that happen if you want to.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 10:34

2 Answers 2


The plain fact is that almost no one does this without either strong ideological motivation (i.e. the Kibbutz system), or severe financial necessity (orphanages) or both (Romanian orphanages), which --to me --suggests that it's probably a very bad idea.

With that said, the closest you'll find is a probably an elite private boarding school. If you want to completely eliminate personal contact with your child, you'd still need to privately engage your own staff of professionals to cover the early years and any time off from school.

I'm unable to offer this advice without noting that I personally find this a morally abhorrent concept, unlikely to result in good outcomes for either the child or society.


Deciding to give birth to a child and raise it, despite all our shortcomings, doubts, philosophical objections, etc., etc., requires a huge leap of faith.

I became pregnant unexpectedly, and was full of doubt. However, I was in week 14 when I discovered I was pregnant, and I discovered immediately that I wanted the baby more than anything I had ever wanted. And I learned how to parent as I went. The baby was my teacher!

You may end up deciding to have a baby; you may end up deciding not to. If you have one, your views about family structure may change as you go along. I can't think of anything that has more potential to turn a life and a set of beliefs more upside down than having a baby.

Carson McCullers wrote a story, "A tree, a rock, a cloud," about learning to love a person step by step, by working up.

You might like to satisfy the parental urge in yourself, but without taking the plunge to take full responsibility for a child, by being a special person in some child's life. In the U.S. there is an organization that sets up these relationships -- it's called Big Brothers, Big Sisters. One commits for one year, but many "Bigs" end up continuing the relationship for several years. You could read about this organization, and inspired by it, you could set up something similar for yourself, in a more informal way.

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