Why You Should Raise Your Kids in the City
In 1988, when Tim first mentioned the idea of us going to Manhattan to plant a church, I reacted by laughing. Take our three wild boys (the victims of below-average parenting, as well as indwelling sin) to the center of a big city? Expose them to varieties of sin that I hoped they wouldn't hear about until, say, their mid-30s? My list of answers to, "What is wrong with this picture?" was a long, long one.
We are now coming up on 23 years as residents of New York City. Our sons have grown up here, been educated in the New York City public school system (as well as private and Christian schools), married, and—to the surprise of my 1988 self—expressed the desire to never live anywhere else. Two have already bought fixer-upper apartments, and the third is doing everything in his power to move back as soon as he graduates with his MBA. Our granddaughter is a New Yorker bred and born, and already knows her way around the playgrounds and museums of New York, as well as how to charm a free flower from the man at the corner flower stall.
I learned in those intervening decades that the city is a wonderful place to raise children, a place where families can flourish in a way that they may not in the suburbs or the small towns. (See the list at the end of this article that Redeemer Church elder Glen Kleinknecht put together [with a few additions from me] for staff considering moving their families to New York.)
Don't get me wrong: We've lived and ministered in both suburbs and small towns, and there are spiritual strengths and spiritual needs everywhere there are people. But because most Christians don't think about the city as a great place to raise their family, Christians are moving into the city at a vastly slower rate than the rest of the world's people. I just hope to break some stereotypes about what it's like to have a family in the city.
As a summary I would say that the two main advantages of raising your children in the city are also its two main characteristics—its darkness and its light.