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Why You Should Raise Your Kids in the City

Why You Should Raise Your Kids in the City

Urban areas give children a glimpse of the big wide world—when you're still around to discuss it with them.

Darkness

The darkness of the city is easy to see. In the first few years we lived here my sons saw, from the vantage point of the back of our van where they were waiting for us to come out of the evening service, a robbery suspect chased down the sidewalk, caught, and spread-eagled, handcuffed, and Mirandized on the hood of the car parked behind us. We drove past hookers in silver lamé bikinis and stilettos, watched over by their pimp, on our way home. We watched one man knock another one out in a fistfight at a street fair; and, memorably, a well-dressed man in the financial district drunkenly fall to his knees, vomit all over himself, and then stagger off.

Naturally, these incidents were the subject of lengthy family conversation and discussion. That sin should be so visible, and appear in its true, ugly colors, is of inestimable value in a culture that glamorizes depraved behavior, laughing off drunkenness and promiscuity as "partying," and mocking those who don't participate. I never had to give one lecture on the evils of drunkenness to boys who had seen them live, in living color, for themselves.

But in the city, your kids see sin and its consequences while you are still with them and can help them process it. Eventually they're going to encounter it for themselves, usually when they leave the protected environment of home for the big wide world—just when you are no longer around to discuss things.

I have had parents counter this suggestion by saying that, as valuable as processing the ugliness of this broken world with your children might be, there is such a thing as seeing too much, too soon. Possibly so, but my daughter-in-law (with degrees in education from Vanderbilt and Harvard in primary and secondary education, and with experience in teaching both) pointed something out to me: If children are really that young, too young for some sights, they simply won't see them, or understand what they're seeing. Children find a great deal of the world inexplicable, so the very young are not usually in danger of being damaged by fleeting glimpses of the sordid world. By the time they are old enough to notice what they're seeing, it's time for parents to be talking to them about it, anyway. And it's usually way younger than you thought!

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Displaying 1–1 of 1 comments

Nate Clarke

March 23, 2012  8:19am

At This Is Our City (a Christianity Today project) we value thoughtful and respectful dialogue. To that end, we asked Rachel Stone to respond to Kathy's article. You can see her response here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/thisisourcity/7thcity/raisekidsanywhere.ht ml

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