Childrearing

Why I’ll Never Move My Daughter To A Big City

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Last year, our family took a trip to visit New York City. My four-year-old got to explore Central Park, tear through FAO Schwarz and marvel at the American Museum of Natural History. Immediately, my little girl loved everything about the busy nature of a big city. She loved the subways, felt at home walking down busy streets, and immediately made friends in the park. She even got spoiled by some of my wonderful colleagues who work in NYC.

Ever since, my daughter’s been asking when we’re going to go back to “the city.” If I attempt to convince her that we live in a city now, she shakes her head and says, “No mom, the real city.” Apparently the second-largest city in our state just doesn’t count. And really, as far as cities go, it doesn’t. That’s why I like it.

So often, parents debate city versus suburb. They talk about the opportunity of one and the safety of the other. They argue about the “soul” versus the space. They completely ignore that there’s another option. Yes, I’m actually advocating living in the country. I am advocating small towns and farming communities. I’m not saying country living is right for everyone, but I think it’s still a valid option. And the right option for us.

When I started discussing our plans to move with my friends, I started throwing around a word that seemed to confuse every city-dweller I know. Acreage. That’s right. We’re not just living in a suburb, we aren’t just missing out on the great museums, we’re talking about owning acres in the double digits. We’re talking about fields that can actually be used to harvest crops. We’re talking about barns and stables and legitimate woods behind the house where my daughter can explore. And in the Midwest, you don’t even have to get too far away from town to find sprawling fields and farm houses.

So why is country living so important for me and why do I want to raise my kids in such an environment? Well, my own personal comfort comes from living in my own space, without having neighbors a couple feet or even a couple yards away. I like the retreat-like feeling offered by living in the country. But for kids, I like the fact that living in the country seems to give them a more antiquated form of childhood. I love the opportunities to just play outdoors. And I think all that space affords children the chance to grow up just a bit slower than when you’re bombarded by cultural pressure every time you step outside your house.

I’m not going to keep my child from the internet or television. I know that she’ll see those influences in various ways through school and media. But having a home that feels different, secure and totally our own, might help to counteract some of the intense societal pressure put on young girls today.

There will be plenty of time for my daughter to live in a big city. And with the way that population trends have shifted in recent years, chances are that she’ll have to live in an urban area simply to find work. But my husband and I’s occupations allow us to work from almost anywhere. We’re honestly considering a nice little RV trip around the country in a summer or two. Why give in to the rush of a big city now, when she’s still so young? Why not let her experience the slowed-down existence of small town living?

I realize that plenty of people love living in a city. They wouldn’t leave for the world. And honestly, I think my daughter will be one of those people when she grows up. She’s already drawn to it. But I think there are merits to be found in quieter landscapes. I want to teach my daughter to appreciate them before she gets suck into the fast-paced world of a big city. I want to give her a home that she can return to when she needs to unwind.

We can visit the city every year. We can see the museums, take in the sights and meet the people. But for my family, we’re quiet content to be country mice.

(Photo: Pindyurin Vasil/Shutterstock)