The Boring Burbs?

This is a guest blog by Risa C. Doherty, a freelance writer who chose to raise her kids in the suburbs.

In the June 14th Wall Street Journal, Ralph Gardner Jr. reflects upon his decision to raise his daughter in Manhattan (“Graduating a City Kid”). Gardner states that suburban kids “seemed more homogenous,” whereas city kids “seemed imbued with greater self-possession, each of them uniquely himself or herself.” He also references suburbia’s cul-de-sacs and manicured lawns as emblematic of a “slow spiritual death.”

We parents did not all make the same decision. Many prefer the suburbs because we consider the pastoral setting a positive factor and don’t believe it will stunt our children’s spiritual or creative growth. That is not to say that others have made a terrible mistake: the City has a lot to offer and it is indeed a magnet for my entire family – for its excitement, museums, restaurants, first-run movies, shows and shops. But, I beg to differ as to the type of young adult who emerges from quiet towns and villages outside the City. Mr. Gardner was right in referencing a child’s “home, family and idiosyncratic experiences.” I think that those factors are the most influential factors for a child, and not their daily exposure to the noise and hustle and bustle of a vibrant City. The only real distinction I have observed between city kids and suburban kids is the initial superior ability of city kids to navigate within Manhattan. Granted, there do seem to be a few more “free spirits” among the urban progeny, but I am guessing that most of them were raised by parents who fostered and encouraged that path and have the same pre-conceived notions of suburbia that Mr. Gardner harbors.

And, Ralph, just to be clear, we suburbanites do not get excited by a squirrel crossing the road- the party only starts when a bunny shows up.

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