Most of my family and many of my friends live in the burbs. And every once in awhile, they ask me if Amy and I plan to raise Jada in the city. Given that we've exhibited typical "nesting" behavior lately -- making friends with neighbors and their kids, coordinating major home improvements, getting involved in the community -- I guess you could say the answer is "likely."
There are many advantages to raising kids in an urban environment. I won't go so far as to say it's better than raising them in the burbs -- after all, that's a matter of preference, and different settings work for different people -- but consider the following positives:
* Parents in the burbs play with their kids in the front or back lawn. Parents in the city go to the playground where they and their kids get to interact with others.
* Kids in the burbs have to be driven everywhere. Kids in the city learn how to use public transit, bikes, and their own two feet to see friends and find adventure.
* Big cities are far denser in terms of cultural and historical assets, as well as dining and entertainment options.
* City kids get more comfortable interacting with people of all different racial, socio-economic, and vocational backgrounds.
All four of these strengths are verified by one of my bosses, whose teenage daughter has lived in urban Philadelphia her entire life. He tells me she's well-adjusted, is comfortable interacting with all sorts of people in all sorts of settings, and is the go-to person among her friends and relatives from the burbs who know that tagging along with her will mean knowing the funnest places to go and the funnest ways to get there.
I realize Amy and I have it lucky in that we don't have to worry as much over the two biggest reasons people move to the burbs when they have kids: crime and education. For one, our neighborhood is relatively safe, and for another, we'll be able to send our kids to a decent public elementary school within walking distance of our home. Certainly if urban living meant sacrificing in either or both of those areas, that changes the balance between positives and negatives. And yet I know a lot of people who have moved to the burbs for those two reasons, only to find that crime exists there too, and schools aren't perfect there, either.
Also, sometimes I wonder if people move to the burbs because they'd like a little more space to themselves. Indeed, a move to the burbs usually means more land and more house. And unless your commute for work or errands is horrendous, the interior of your car can be a nicer setting than the crowdedness of city streets, buses, and subways. But maybe, just maybe having to rub shoulders with others, and dragging your kids into that sort of lifestyle, might be good for them. Here's hoping it's good for Jada and any other kids on their way.