I spent the first eleven years of my life being parented on an island…
…the famous island of New York City.
And then my parents moved our family to the south. The deep south.
Ahh, the home of sunshine, beaches, and sunblock.
But we didn’t move to a coastal beach town or tourist prone Orlando.
No, we moved to the country side of Florida. The part that’s full of sand, snakes, black bears, oak trees, needle palm trees, and has smelly well water.
But we love it!
As I got older, I realized that my life would have been much different had we stayed in NYC. After I had kids of my own, I thanked my mom for moving us out of the city. I cannot imagine ever raising my children is a bustling metropolis. I feel like had we stayed there, I would have lost myself.
Since living here worked well for me growing up, my husband and I choose to settle and raise our family here. Here are a few of my positive reasons for country parenting:
Children have more freedom to play outdoors – I remember when we lived in NYC in our apartment building and how we didn’t have a backyard. To play outside, we’d have to walk to the nearest playground, which was several blocks away. We were never allowed to go to the playground by ourselves.
My grandmother was remembering the other day how she used to worry that I’d crack my head on the concrete at the playground. It forced me to compare NYC playgrounds to FL ones. Out in the country, our playgrounds are surrounded by grassy plots of land and picnic areas. In NYC, much of the playground was concrete and rubber.
As a country parent living on over an acre of land, I can let my kids play outside in our yard whenever they want to. I don’t need to haul everyone over to the nearest playground. I love that!
Children learn Southern hospitality and good manners in kindergarten – It wasn’t long after we starting attending school in FL that my sisters and I started saying, “Yes ma’am.” I’m not sure if we realized it at the time or not, but now that I’m a parent, I know that using phrases like “yes sir” is the proper way to address an adult. The phrases go back to when we used to address women as “madam” and “sire”. When I lived in NYC, we were never taught to address anyone as “ma’am” or “sir”.
Having lived all over the country, I feel most respected in the regions where people referred to me as “ma’am” (even though it makes me feel old). Maybe that’s just me. Today, I always remind my children to respond to my requests with “yes ma’am” so that I know that they heard and understood me.
Children grow up learning to love and appreciate the outdoors – Let’s be real here. There’s isn’t *hit to do out in the country when it comes to entertainment. That is if you consider entertainment as going to the mall, watching an IMAX movie, attending a major league baseball game, eating at trendy restaurants, catching a Broadway play, or visiting local museums. In the country, we live within driving distance to bigger towns that have shops and entertainment.
However, children out here learn other ways of entertainment. As a teenager, I enjoyed attending high school football games on Friday nights as did other adults in our community. I know nothing about football (except how to keep score), but I enjoyed socializing with my peers who also attended.
I have friends who grew up with parents that taught them how to fish and hunt. We live near a river and many people out here own boats and do that as a form of recreational entertainment. My husband wants to buy a boat for us so that we can go out and fish on the river, just for fun. He also wants to learn how to hunt, just for the sport of it.
In our early dating months, we went with a group of our friends to a paintball range and had so much fun hiding in the woods and shooting each other with paintball rifles. All these forms of entertainment for children and young adults are far different than the types of activities city kids participate in. And all of these involve being out in nature!
Children raised in southern country areas are rooted in families that are Christian – I remember my mom commenting that you won’t see so many churches within close proximity to each other anywhere else but in the South. While my parents never raised us in the church, almost all of my friends were. I ultimately married a Catholic and became Catholic myself about two and a half years ago.
Around here, people seem happier and more satisfied with their life than in big cities. I’m not sure if the culture of the city has more to do with it than their level of faith, but I’m sure that a combination of the two make a big difference. As a Christian mother, I’m trying to raise my children in a way that helps them to understand that life isn’t about getting a high paying job and making a lot of money so that you can buy lots of things and be rich. In the city environment, I can see how these Christian values can conflict with the cultural hustle and bustle ones. I’ve noticed that country parents place more value on God’s teachings than anything else. And I like that.
While there are numerous other differences between raising a child in the city versus the country, I’m choosing not to discuss them here because I don’t want to stir up conflict and debate. I only wanted to point out the positive reasons for why I’m choosing to parent my children in the country instead of the city. I know that city kids have many, many more academic opportunities available to them, and they are exposed to a wider range of cultures than they would experience in the country.
Parenting is completely up to the parent and there are many factors that go into why a parent chooses to parent in the city versus the country. I’m aware that this isn’t always a choice. This post wasn’t meant to shame city parents nor praise country ones. My views are mine and mine alone. What works for me may not work for you and I get that.
My hope is that you’ll walk away from this post having gotten to know me a little bit better and will choose to continue to read my future posts.
Do you wish to share your experience as a country or city parent? I’d love to hear from you!