If you’re no stranger to this website you’ll know why I’ve devoted an entire section to raising children in the country.
You’ll also know that I began the celebration that is my daughter’s life alongside this website. But first I had to leave my fast-paced, high-stress, life in the big city, behind. Hence the name “GoodByeCityLife”.
Although the details of my decision are rather personal, I can tell you this much. She was six days old and in a stroller – I had her out for that token walk of ‘scare off the jaundice and get a natural dose of Vitamin D’, took a look around at the world I’d be raising her in and said “No way.”
A month later we were heading for the hills like two country kids en route to the greatest adventure of all time.
Country Children – A Gentler Start
Every so often I’ll spot a newspaper for my old stomping ground and find myself shocked at the headlines. Sometimes, if I have enough time or energy to sit myself down in front of the idiot box (television) I’ll catch a glimpse of the evening news.
Both of these distractions from our normal life make me shudder. I wonder what happened to the once friendly, albeit large, city of Toronto.
What possibly could have happened to turn Toronto the Good, into a city where children are now involved in drive by shootings and gang wars? This isn’t all about Toronto, the trouble is in every major city in North America. (For the record, I’ve been to many large cities in Europe in the last few years and, except for Rome’s trouble with street kids, don’t see the problems there as I do here.)
Moving Your Children Out of the City
I’m not making any judgment calls here. Not everyone can just pack up and get their kids out of Dodge City like we could. In fact, the move itself was rather easy for me as I had a history of moving around a lot when I was young and then in my 20s.
I realized young that I could reinvent myself in every new place and aspire to greater accomplishments with every move. I also realized that a person can make friends anywhere, can make do without your favorite restaurant, and that you can live out of a suitcase for a month if you have to. Essentially you can figure the whole mess out when you arrive and in the meantime make a better life and enjoy the tiniest taste of freedom as you begin to control your own destiny.
Today, (as I write this), Veronica is 13.
I wonder about my friends’ daughters and who they’ve grown up to be.
I wonder about the differences between our children and if the city vs. country life has made all the difference.
Surely with television, satellite, cell phones, and the internet they are equally be bombarded with the same messages and be affected in the same way. Or are they?
Perhaps the lesson isn’t in where you raise them, but how you raise them. Certainly the stresses and values of city parents vs. country parents are much different. I know for a fact that I could not have afforded to spend as much one-on-one time with my girl as I have if we were still living in the city. I also know there are a lot of parents in my community that barely spend any time with their children – and wouldn’t, even if they could afford it.
It is troublesome and it causes hurt. The children hurt and look for ways to mask or dull it. They hurt and are left with no recourse, no tools for coping, but to hurt others in return. Personally I think it is a large part of what is wrong in our society today and why our crime rate is on the rise, why our kids are thugs.
On the other hand, in our tiny world of 3,500, the children of the house are top priority in (a guess) 70% of the families. You make ‘em, you raise ‘em and that doesn’t mean shoving them out the door steady or propping them up in front of a television set.
It does means sitting down with them. It means taking a hike with them. It means going fishing together. Skating. Whatever – something – time.
I used to think that raising my daughter in the country would mean that she’d have a chance to extend the glory days of youth, but being raised in the country hasn’t afforded her the luxury of ‘being a kid longer’.
I still had to prepare her for the ‘real world’, but in the country we have time for compassion and age appropriate teaching. Furthermore the lessons in themselves make more sense (I can’t tell you how many adults I’ve talked to that don’t have a clue where their grocery store meats come from.)
This country child was:
- Street smart by 5.
- World traveled by 12.
- She’s had to deal with death, and has had to help with birth.
- She knows first-hand the animals that gave their lives for her as she sits down to dinner.
- And she understands the work involved in growing her own salads.
- The only stress she’s been spared is to not need to fear for her safety at the hands of society every time she heads out the door.
Country Kids Aren’t Immature or Ignorant of How the World Works…
Thirteen years ago I was chastised in my social circle. “You can’t take her out to the country! She’ll turn out dumb as a stump, without culture, and easy prey should she ever leave that small town…”
In retrospect I’m not entirely certain why I counted those people as ‘friends’.
As for Veronica, now nearly an adult at 13: Nicely mannered. Great social skills. Two percentage points shy of being an honor student (and that’s after being home schooled for the first part of her education). Traveled and touched by the cultures of Africa, Puerto Rico, France, Italy, Spain and, of course, the USA. She’s been to a ballet, symphonies, live theatre and more. Avid reader of many genres.
Culture? I wouldn’t have been able to take her on those trips had I continued living in the city with my high mortgage payments.
Dumb? I wouldn’t have been able to give her those years of home schooling (which I fully believe in) had I stayed in the city.
Easy prey? I think not. You’d just have to meet her to know how laughable that one is! She’s a strong and fiercely minded young woman, loaded with confidence and determination. Traits I may not have been capable of instilling had I raised her in the city.
Is There Really A Difference Between City and Country Kids?
I’m not certain I could make that distinction, although I do feel incredibly blessed to have raised her here. Had I stayed in the city I would not have had the time or finances (too busy going to work and spending my pay checks on high mortgage payments) to devote to her and her education.
On the other hand there are certainly our fair share of ignored and obnoxious children and teens in our country town. You can’t blame that on the kids though, they haven’t been parented. The smart ones will try to give you the excuse that they’re a ‘product of their environment’ – it is their cop out and sadly they can’t even spell what they’re saying.
When it comes right down to it, this is more about how you raise them, than where you raise them. If you can’t give your children the time and energy required to turn out responsible, compassionate adults, then perhaps you need to do what I did – say “Good Bye City Life”!