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Old 07-13-2012, 09:16 AM   #1
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How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

FTR, I always lived in a close knit neighborhood with a ton of friends as a kid, so this may give me a bias.

Anyway, a year ago we moved from our suburb to the country. We love it, and our boys were small 4, 3 and 1. They had each other to play with and they love all the space. However, since my oldest has started preschool, I see how many kids in his class that have playmates in their neighborhoods. (they are mostly in subdivisions near the school-we have to drive 25 min. to the nearest preschool). I feel guilty that if we stay here, my son will not be able to play with friends easily. We are on 20 acres and there are no children nearby my boys ages. Our neighbors have older children. I also will not be able to drop him off at other kids homes until he is older because he has severe food allergies and I am not comfortable with that. So, that leaves social interaction at school and our home and possible playdates at the beach or park. I just feel so bad because I had like 6 close friends I grew up with and we spent all our time together. I had such a fun childhood and my friends were such an important part of that. I don't want my son(s) to miss out on that.

We will not be able to move for 3 years anyway, because of where my dh is stationed. However, when the boys are 8, 7 and 5, we will have the opportunity to move. I am so torn because my hubby and I love living in the country. We love how beautiful it is and love all the space and the kids do love our big yard. WDYT?

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Old 07-13-2012, 09:35 AM   #2
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

I think neighborhoods are overrated in many cases. Yes, growing up we always lived in neighborhoods but we also moved every 2 to 4 years with the military so any long term/long lasting friendships were kept due to work on both sides. And with the general flux of kids in those neighborhoods, long term buddies were harder to come by. For our own family, 5 years ago we moved to a rural area. We now own 5 acres and have 9 kids. Our closet neighbor had grandkids visiting her every week at first but they moved to be on more land as an extended family and live closer to their grandchildren. So now we don't really have close kids to play with. Add in homeschooling the kids. Sometimes it's a negative but I won't trade the closer family ties between the kids, the freedom to let the kids roam the yard without worry, the freedom to have a bonfire or campout in the backyard for closer neighbors. I think it just depends on your individual family and preferences honestly.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:35 AM   #3
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

I think neighborhoods are overrated in many cases. Yes, growing up we always lived in neighborhoods but we also moved every 2 to 4 years with the military so any long term/long lasting friendships were kept due to work on both sides. And with the general flux of kids in those neighborhoods, long term buddies were harder to come by. For our own family, 5 years ago we moved to a rural area. We now own 5 acres and have 9 kids. Our closet neighbor had grandkids visiting her every week at first but they moved to be on more land as an extended family and live closer to their grandchildren. So now we don't really have close kids to play with. Add in homeschooling the kids. Sometimes it's a negative but I won't trade the closer family ties between the kids, the freedom to let the kids roam the yard without worry, the freedom to have a bonfire or campout in the backyard for closer neighbors. I think it just depends on your individual family and preferences honestly.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:55 AM   #4
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

I grew up in a neighborhood and had a friend that I played with every day practically. My brother had a friend from a few streets away that he played with and there were some other kids that we played with sometimes. Dh grew up in a neighborhood and did have some friends in the neighborhood when he was younger but because he lived far away from where he went to school (private school) the friendships fizzled out and he wound up having "school friends" who he mostly only saw at school or had to go see on the weekends at their houses far from his own. He found that as he got older he had less time for his "home friends" because he was busy with school and his "school friends" and so were they. They had the benefit of living closer to their "school friends" and he started to feel shut out. Just to give you a perspective.

Now we live in another neighborhood but we homeschool. There are plenty of kids in our neighborhood but they don't really run the streets playing like kids used to when I was little. My boys have each other and the friends they make at TKD and rollerderby to play with. They don't really have friends who they play with each day because we are quite busy with TKD but they see their TKD friends almost every day. I would love to have a lot of property for them to play on and would not trade that kind of freedom for living in a neighborhood and the hopes that you had decent neighbors with some kids that your kids actually got along with. We live in a neighborhood because this is most convenient for our needs. If we could make a large piece of property work we most certainly would.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:16 AM   #5
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

I lived in a neighborhood about half my life. There are definite benefits, but I personally think country living is better. We lived on a farm when I was 6 until 11. My imagination ran wild. We had horses so I would be off riding through the woods- a princess running from the villain. I loved it there. I was an only child, but my aunt who was a year older then me lived with us most of the time. From 12 on up we went back and forth from living in the country to living in town. And once I was old enough to drive it didn't matter where we lived. I seems like I have always lived at least 20-30 mins from civilization, but we've never found it to be a big deal.

My dd also has food allergies so we don't do drop offs either. She did go to pre-k this year and she loved it. We go to a lot of library story-times and play groups. She very rarely has friends over- that might change once she starts kindy next year. But she has her own little wonderland in her yard.

I don't think they will miss out on close friends. i have always had close friends. And living away from everybody makes you realize that you can maintain close friendships without seeing them everyday.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:31 AM   #6
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

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There are plenty of kids in our neighborhood but they don't really run the streets playing like kids used to when I was little.
That's a good point. I had a lot more freedom than I would ever dream of giving my boys.

Dh and I are sort of anti-social. I wasn't always this way, but become more so as I get older. I don't want this to limit my children. I know they have each other and are close in age, but I want them to be able to make friends and have many social interactions.

I guess the key would be having them involved in activities where they can make friends of their same age. They take swimming lessons now, but they really haven't made friends there. It's 30 minutes and all that time they are swimming with the teacher. LOL.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:35 AM   #7
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

I grew up in neighborhoods and had tons of friends that way. My BFF was my neighbor and I've known here for about 25 years now. So, I did make good friends that way.

However, the small amount of trouble I got into as a kid was all with my neighbor friends (not my BFF). They were not a good influence on me. (Some were fine. I'm not saying they are all bad influences, but some are.) I got into very little trouble with friends I met elsewhere because I choose them based on my goody two-shoes personality.

The thing about neighbor friends is children play with them because they are who is around and you (as the parent or child) have no control over who they are or what type of children they are. Children aren't choosy. They play with each other because they are there. They may have a bad influence on your child. Most children (especially younger) don't really have the discernment to realize maybe they shouldn't play with them. And, I don't believe for a second that any child is not susceptible to peer pressure or negative influences.

Even though I grew up in a neighborhood, I would really rather my children not do the same. I would prefer to have more control over who they play with and who they ultimately end up becoming friends with. Of course, as they get older that gets harder, but it's much easier to have a bit of control when they can't get their without your help or when then can't have a friend over without you okaying it.

Anyway, we live in a neighborhood right now and we are hoping to move out in the next few years to a big piece of land that isn't in a neighborhood. So, I envy you.

ETA - I actually have no problem with my children's closest friends being their siblings. IMO, it's very good to create a very strong family bond and that friendship contributes to that. Their siblings will always be there for them. You can't say that about very many friends. I have 5 going on 6 children and they are all close in age. So, to me, that is fine for socialization on a daily basis. They don't need to hang out with outside friends everyday. Of course, I'm sure there are others who will disagree and that's totally fine too.
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:50 AM   #8
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

My close friends came from school. I attended the same set of schools (magnet schools) from 4th grade up. I took honors classes and band/music theory/AP music theory. That was how I got my close friends that I still keep in touch with and see annually. (I'm now 4 hours from "home.") These were friends that I had the same classes with year after year. These were friends I did extra curricular stuff with year after year. These were friends who lived 20 minutes away from my house and NOT in my neighborhood.

I can't think of a single person I've kept in touch with from the neighborhood I grew up in. I was the oldest kid, so I ended up being the neighborhood babysitter. That was a nice experience for my mother hen side and my wallet, but I didn't forge friendships through it.
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:59 AM   #9
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

I'm probably bias in the other direction from you, OP. I grew up on 40 acres and we own 30 acres now. I love the freedom that my kids have and the space they have to run and play. I like that there is no nosy next door neighbor to call CPS over tiny stuff like I have seen on some of these threads. We're kind of picky about some stuff, so a lot of the kids in the neighborhood I might not want my kids playing with anyway. I like the fresh air, and open spaces that the country provides. I have plenty of room for gardens to grow my family fresh food, and room for pets and a bit of livestock. My neighbors down the road don't have any young kids (they're old), but they love my kids. Also this next part is just in my experience so please no one get mad at me, but IME, people are much kinder and laid back in the country. So I think it's important to remember that there are pros and cons to both sides. You're kids might not have a neighborhood of kids to play with, but they do have a lot of oppurtunities that other kids who live in those neighborhoods do not. Happiness really is all in how you look at things!
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:02 PM   #10
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Re: How important do you think it is to grow up in a neighborhood

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Originally Posted by jen_batten View Post
I'm probably bias in the other direction from you, OP. I grew up on 40 acres and we own 30 acres now. I love the freedom that my kids have and the space they have to run and play. I like that there is no nosy next door neighbor to call CPS over tiny stuff like I have seen on some of these threads. We're kind of picky about some stuff, so a lot of the kids in the neighborhood I might not want my kids playing with anyway. I like the fresh air, and open spaces that the country provides. I have plenty of room for gardens to grow my family fresh food, and room for pets and a bit of livestock. My neighbors down the road don't have any young kids (they're old), but they love my kids. Also this next part is just in my experience so please no one get mad at me, but IME, people are much kinder and laid back in the country. So I think it's important to remember that there are pros and cons to both sides. You're kids might not have a neighborhood of kids to play with, but they do have a lot of oppurtunities that other kids who live in those neighborhoods do not. Happiness really is all in how you look at things!
I am right there with you! Country girl at heart, we did the suburbs thing before we had C, and when I got pregnant with her we refused to let her grow up in town/suburbs. We now own 7 acres and she can run and play and will have more freedom then she ever would have in a neighborhood....I know I did, and my bff lived right down the road from me growing up and we would walk 1/2 to meet each other!
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