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Old 07-10-2002, 05:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Are there major issues that citified kids have?

Are the rules different for city children than rural/suburban ones?

When do rural kids get to cross the street by themselves? And city children? Or walking to school ... or riding the bus ... or going to a friend's ... or riding a bike ...

Or anything else in the universe?

And how about safety issues? Talking to strangers is a concept to be clarified if every time you go out you pass hundreds of people just walking down the street, and out of those hundreds some are sure to smile at your kids or say something or ...

I don't mean for this to be a thread about the relative merits of raising a kid in the city vs. "the country," though if anyone wants to go there, that's okay, too ...

- Amy
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Old 07-10-2002, 11:24 AM
 
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My son is 14, we live in the city. Not a very street smart child due to the fact that I have always been very nervous about all the crazies out there.
I only let him go to my mothers by himself 2 blocks away and remind him everytime to use the cross walk & light.
He gets a ride to school because he doesn't go to the one in our neighborhood.
No busses, ever! Too many people around that could give him a ride anyway.
I only let him ride his bike around the block, thats it.
I think though that I do need to ease up a little sometimes but then I worry about him hanging out with his friends and
pier pressure which became a problem this past few weeks.... Smoking, stealing ..... So now he is not out of my site again.
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Old 07-10-2002, 11:26 AM
 
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Hi amyrpk. What an interesting question. Are you raising your kids in the city?

As a mom, I'm grateful for certain about city life:
-We spend very little time in the car
-We have an immediately accessible (a few blocks' walk) network of friends and neighbors
-We're learning to appreciate things without having to own them (park instead of yard, art at the museum instead of a big decorated house, etc.)
-There are lots of great cultural products nearby.
-I won't have to "teach" diversity; it's something we just take for granted. Our neighborhood is extraordinarily diverse and our little playmates include Japanese, Jordanian, Philippino, African American, and Indian children.


But I also have some concerns:
- Overstimulation. There is just so much bustle and activity I worry about sensory overload.
-No "real" nature anywhere around. As a kid I adored the creek and woods behind my suburban home. Here in the city there is no little quiet spot for a child to reflect or to discover frogs, tracks, cocoons, buds, etc.
-The schools. I am very concerned about the possibility of having to put my kids in public school here. We are butted right up against "the 'hood" and you can just tell that the kids in the local schools are rough, with vulgar speech and too many life experiences that I want to shield and protect my children from. It's either the Jewish school, which is excellent but also extremely expensive, or homeschool, AFAIC.


As far as freedoms, they definitely are different. I can totally see letting kids ride the bus or metro with a friend when they're 13 or 14, whereas a suburban teen can't really go anywhere w/out Mom or Dad until s/he can drive.
OTOH, No way would I let them walk alone up the street to a friend's house at 9 yrs. old.
And we do talk to lots and lots of strangers. Usually the exchange is a real blessing. So what to do about the "Don't talk to strangers" thing? I don't know yet.
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Old 07-10-2002, 01:03 PM
 
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I think what city you live in, and what neighborhood within a city, make a big difference. In my urban neighborhood, I regularly see kids as young as 7 walking around alone or in small groups in daylight, and that doesn't strike me as risky--it's an area where I will walk alone at ANY time. Also, there's "real nature" within a few blocks of our house, in the form of 2 huge parks that are mostly forest. We love our neighborhood!

MrBecca grew up in an upper-class white neighborhood in Philadelphia and attended a grade school that drew from his neighborhood and a lower-middle-class black neighborhood with a much higher density of public-school kids, so the school was about 90% black. He's very critical of people who keep their OWN kids out of the local school because they think it's not good enough (rather than working to improve it) especially if their judgment is based largely on the kind of kids attending the school and some judgment of those kids as different from and perhaps less worthy than their own--but at the same time, he feels his early years would've been happier if he hadn't been QUITE so isolated. He grew up feeling very conflicted about the fact that he was completely uncool by school standards (not just the wrong color, but sadly lacking in "groove"!) yet knew he was more intelligent than most of those kids; he didn't want to be a racist, but he couldn't help seeing blacks as less intelligent but more cool, given the examples at hand. His school curriculum actually was pretty good--not as rich and respectful and interesting as one could desire, but when we compare notes we feel our elementary educations were comparable, and I went to the most affluent and highly regarded of 10 schools in my town. Anyway, we hope to be satisfied with our neighborhood school and will cross that bridge when we come to it!

I grew up in a sprawling western town, and I much prefer eastern cities in virtually every way, especially when it comes to getting around! I love having a lot of things within walking distance and being able to take busses nearly everywhere else. We fully intend to keep this up when we have a child.

Recently I talked with a man on the bus who said something interesting: His 2yo loves riding the bus and hates the car, why? "because she likes to be held in my lap." Funny how I never thought of that--carseats really aren't so conducive to AP! I understand they're necessary for safety...but it seems to me that ideally, the attached parent chooses a mode of transport that allows him/her to remain engaged with the child instead of having to concentrate on operating a dangerous machine. What do you all think? Am I just looking for another excuse to avoid driving, which I hate?

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Old 07-10-2002, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, Super Pickle, we live in Manhattan, NYC. Definitely raising my kids in the city.

I don't worry about overstimulation. That's one thing that's a very intense positive.

But the safety issues are my biggest question.

We have a rule when walking down the street, that DS#1(4yo) cannot turn a corner until I do. But thinking about it, when does that stop?

- Amy
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Old 07-10-2002, 01:10 PM
 
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Excellent questions. Violet is still too little to do anything by herself, so I have no real experience with the letting her do stuff on her own issues. There is no way I would even let her go to the park across the street until she is at least12 or 13 by herself. The kind of kids who hang out there because they have no other place are really rough and I hear them talk about sex (I heard an eight-year-old singing something like "I'll rub your booty, then lick your na=na. You'll pull my wang-wang")

We live in a "transitional" neighborhood in what used to be a very gang-infested part of the city. In the past five years it has really bloomed, but there are times it is a real pain to live her because of the noise. It is a target zone for the police, though, so the response is always very quick.

I pretty much just protect Violet from everything now. she is too young to be going up to strangers or go anywhere by herself. I think we will have moved to a smaller town by the time she is a little older.
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Old 07-10-2002, 02:47 PM
 
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The Gift of Fear By Gavin DeBecker

I'm in the middle of reading it now, on how to keep your kids safe.

One of the most interesting things I've read so far is that he is against the don't talk to strangers rule. He believes you need to teach your kids HOW to talk to strangers. We talk to strangers all day long and we need to talk to strangers as do children. The rule is unrealistic, impractical, and dangerous in that if your child remembers at the appropriate moment they just freeze in fear and can't act. It also gets children hung up on the definition of stranger, which they do a horrible job of defining.

It is definitely a book I'll be revisiting as dd gets older.
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Old 07-10-2002, 03:32 PM
 
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* Never mind, that was petty
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Old 07-10-2002, 03:45 PM
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Great thread and something I've been thinking about allot even though my son is only two.

We live downtown in a 'transitional' neighbourhood. It's a mixture of middle income Portuguese who've lived here for a long time, low income Asians who are more recent immigrants and higher income Yuppies (guilty). Our district school is right across the street. Since most of the Portuguese kids go to Catholic school and the Yuppie kids are too young, the school is predominantly Asian kids learning English as a second language. So although I think it's important to support your local school, since this school's focus has to be ESL, will my kid get enough attention? And I don't like the idea of trying to get involved and change this school because they are serving the majority of the community. Who am I to say they should change to suit my kid?

This leads to my next problem. If my kid goes to a school further away with a more diverse student body (still public but about 5 blocks and 2 major intersections away), at what age can he walk by himself? I don't believe in supervising my child 24 hours a day. I want him to learn to take care of himself. I walked to school (same city, slightly different neighbourhood) with other kids starting in the first grade but it seems like no kids walk to school without a parent anymore. The statistics I've seen indicate that the chance of your child being abducted or molested by a stranger has not increased since we were kids. But it's hard to be brave and have your child be the only one out there!
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Old 07-10-2002, 06:23 PM
 
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I spend a lot of time thinking about this. I grew up in the country, but we now live in the city. I've made a concious choice to raise my dd in a different environment, but I worry that it will make it difficult for us to relate to each other. I hated growing up in the country because there were no kids my age nearby, I couldn't walk to anything, and I wasn't allowed to ride my bike off our property because our street was a truck route with semi-trucks driving 60+mph all day long. My parents never wanted to make the drive into the closest town 20 minutes away to take me anyplace, so I felt trapped there. I thought it was an awful way to grow up, so I want to raise dd different. With some distance (both time and space) I recognize that there were some good things about it (no real crime, for example) and it could have been better if my parents were more active, but it wasn't good for me at that time. Now we live walking distance from parks, a grocery store, a public library, and a community center. It fits me much better and I hope that dd will enjoy growing up here.
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Old 07-10-2002, 07:32 PM
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Just thought of another thing. We are lucky to spend a lot of time at my in-laws farm so ds gets benefits of the country there. However, it is not without it's dangers! It is impossible to kid proof an entire farm and the dangerous stuff is everywhere! Sharp tools, barnyard animals (horses especially), the creek, manure (it freaks me out when I see him put his hands in his mouth because I know that at some point during the day he came in contact with manure), bugs, poison ivy, rocks to fall off of, etc. etc. I have to watch him much more carefully than I do in the city. But he LOVES it there and he learns so much because it is so different from his everyday environment.

On the same note, my two little farm girl nieces love to come to the Big City to visit us. They are completely fascinated by all the different people, the lights, the sounds. I've always lived in the city so it's great to see it for the first time through their eyes.
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Old 07-10-2002, 08:24 PM
 
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We lived in the country (town had no stoplights at all) until dd was 7 we now live in a small city by most standards. The main difference is when we lived in the country we had 10 acres, so she had lots of space to play safely. We lived a totally different life, with livestock to take care of and a HUGE garden and fruit trees. But there really weren't any kids for her to play with on our dead end street with maybe 6 houses spread very far apart.

Now we live in a suburban neighborhood, where there is much more traffic and a higher incidence of all crime but especially violent crime than our country home. Only within the last year or so has she been able to walk around the block and never alone. We live in a nice neighborhood too. But we watch her walk across the street to best friends house if it's after dark. I would never let her walk to the park or be there alone. And there are a few within reasonable walking distance. She isn't allowed to ride her bike all over alone either.

DH and I are doing everything we can to move out of the city. I didn't want to live here in the first place we only came because of his job.
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Old 07-11-2002, 03:31 AM
 
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I live in a wonderful, good-sized city with lots of parks. I am delighted to say that kids here still seem to be allowed to ride their bikes around the block, go to the playground with their friends, and play pickup games of football, all without adults hanging over them. I think it's extremely important for kids to have the opportunity to do stuff without direct supervision, as they get older. (Obviously, I'm not going to let my 21-month-old walk down to the corner store by herself.) I feel very fortunate that I seem to live in one of the few pockets of America where most of the people in my community seem to have similar standards.

Wickida Witch, I have to say, I think you've crossed the line from overprotective to potentially seriously damaging. Yes, if your son is stealing and smoking, you need to keep him close by and keep an eye on him. But he's fourteen. In four more years he'll be eighteen, and you really won't be able to keep an eye on him. He needs the opportunity to make some mistakes now, while you can still protect him somewhat. He needs a chance to practice being on his own. When I was 13, my family lived for a year in London; I used to take a bus across town to visit my best friend, and then we'd go shopping together. At one point I took a drama class that required a walk to the bus stop, a bus ride, an underground (subway) ride, and another bus ride. All of this was by myself. I was a not-terribly-street-smart, midwestern girl; yes, London is a pretty safe city, but still. Not letting a 14-year-old ride his bike further than around the block is as nuts as letting a two-year-old go to the playground alone.

Oh, and I second the recommendation for "Protecting the Gift." Excellent book.
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Old 07-11-2002, 12:42 PM
 
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Naomi~
I know I didn't get into to much detail but the smoking and stealing happened during the time that i was "trying to let go" a little. I was letting him walk to his friends houses after school and "hang out" with them. all I asked of him was to call me if he was going from one friends to another and he had a hard time doing that. He has had his own cell phone for about 3 yrs now.. Thats when the smoking started.
a couple of weeks ago I let him sleep over my nephews house where the Mom is much much less protective than I. The night after I let him sleep at the downstairs friends house(he's 14 too) basicly knowing that they would be watching themselves the next day. There is a 17yo sister but she was in and out all day and my nephews Mom upstairs. He borrowed cousins bike and rode to Target for the purpose of stealing. To get to Target you have to get past 2 major rotaries and a minor hiway. I hate driving through this never mind trying to get past with bikes.

I would also like to add(without sarcasim(sp?) ) that you don't know where I live, what the people are like around here or how they drive. even when the light is red and you have the cross walk light they still cut you off and act as though your in their way! Not that my area is the only one this way but there are a lot of drugs around here, robberies and car accidents.ect ect.
I have always talked to my son about peer pressure. Ex: "Shawn, I dont know these kids that you say are your friends, I don't know what they do and so on." These are the friends I gave into (and mind you, I would casually drive by these houses while trying to get ds2 to sleep) and now he's smoking.
I have to take care of my other babe now!
Oh, I am trying to get away from this "bad area". with any luck by the end of the month!
I just wanted to add that "checking on Shawn" wasnt the only reason I would drive to that area of the city. My dh delivers in the same area as all of shawn's friend and I would drive around in hopes of finding Dh so ds2 could say to his daddy!
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Old 07-11-2002, 01:58 PM
 
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Liz, in some areas parents have started "walk-pools" to get their kids to/from school. Each parent has a day of the week to walk with all the kids from several families. That would be easy to organize if you can find just 4 other parents along the same route to school, and it would give your son the social experience of walking with other kids while minimizing the risk of getting run over. (That's a much bigger risk than abduction!) Over time, the kids will learn the skills they need to walk without an adult. You could assess your son's development of these skills by every so often asking him to narrate how he decides when to cross the street when you're walking together.

Naomi, I think you're right on target about teaching kids to take care of themselves while they're still kids. WickidaWitch's issues with her son are not really about street smarts, I think, but about his displaying generally poor judgment. For HER 14yo, allowing more independence at this stage would be a bad move, because he's shown he can't be trusted with what independence he has now. On average tho 14 is a good age to be learning to take care of yourself away from home.

My brother and I both did a lot of walking around as teens, in a pedestrian-unfriendly town, which in a different way is at least as dangerous as a city: Drivers aren't expecting to see pedestrians, and there are no sidewalks or crosswalks or 4-way stops. Often we had to be inventive to get where we were going. For instance, to get to the library, we walked thru residential sprawl for a mile, ran across the highway at a point 1/2 mile from the nearest stoplight, walked in 2-ft-high weeds along shoulder of Wal-Mart access road, ran down steep embankment into parking lot behind car dealership, crossed parking lot, wriggled thru gap in fence, jumped off 4-ft retaining wall into McDonald's parking lot, walked behind McD's and Long John Silver's, climbed down 60-degree-slope 12-ft-high concrete embankment to creek where it ran under other highway, crossed creek (only a few feet wide and deep) stepping on rocks, climbed up embankment on other side into woods full of poison ivy, came out of woods into K-mart lot, went into K-mart restrooms to wash off poison ivy, bought Icee, walked behind a dozen or so businesses while sharing Icee, took dirt trail thru unofficial trailer park behind Chinese restaurant (99% of the town had no idea anyone lived back there!), walked thru side-yard of nursing home, and emerged into library parking lot! Easy? No, but I've done it wearing a dress! without a net! Fun? Well, more fun and more interesting than having parents drive us the two-and-a-half miles. Safe? Not perfectly, but we never got worse than a skinned knee, never encountered any unsavory characters, and reduced the risk of being hit by a car by staying away from the roads as much as possible. It was a great problem-solving and confidence-building exercise!

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Old 07-11-2002, 06:07 PM
 
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Wow!EnviroBecca
That sounds like quite an adventure to the library!!!
Hopefully things will turn around for Shawn, he'll smarten up and I'll be able to trust him own his own.
I know the smoking had to do with him wanting attention. At least on the night that I caught him. he admitted to smoking before this night but finding a ciggerette in your toilet and knowing that it could not have been from anybody else is a surely an attention getter.
The confusing part for me is if its attention he wants why does he do eveything possible every day to leave the house. Out with nana, dad, my sister. He'll do things with other people that i've asked him to do and tells me NO.
He's away in Canada this week with his Dad. I am hoping he'll come home with a new attitude.
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