Photo credit: @julesdwit.
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Listeners: Do you think growing up in a diverse, big city better prepares you for life? Does it give you a leg up in some way? Or are you thankful you didn't? Leave your comment here.
I lived in New York City and moved to Somers, NY 20 years ago. Suprisingly, I found my neighbors in Somers incredibly insenstive and uncaring. My next door neighbor set up a dog kennel until the town stopped him. Another neighbor has 4th of July fireworks that rival Macy's and endanger anyone nearby -- the next day clean up of my yard is massive. Summer weekends are a time for noisy machines - from power washers to lawn tractors. People walk unleashed dogs in my front yard and other people's yards. And the neighborhood children -- well don't ask. In my 30 years living in Queens and Manhattan, I found my neighbors to be friendly, and, well, neighborly.
Time to move south.
There are a lot of comments about how easy it is to insulate yourself and your kids from all the diversiy in the city. That applies to every place on earth. There are people in suburbs that dont venture out of their town, kids that only interact with limited group of friends and then go to a local college to be close to home. NYC offers a lot of opportunity to experience cultures from all over the world, more than most places. The fact that some dont take advantage of what's available, for whatever reason, is not an example of a problem with living in the city.
Living in the city, any large city, has major advantages. It makes you more global & culturally sophisticated, but it forces you to become a consumer as well because you can't really grow anything. Martin Chuzzlewit is correct when he says that children really don't get to be kids in the city, because you can still be insulated from diversity depending on where you were raised. In which case, a child is either under- or over- parented. However, I have visited other cities and rural communities and they are BOTH diverse.
What do you mean by diverse? If you include diversity of thought and political opinion, then growing up in a place like, say, Park Slope will certainly not prepare a child for what's out there.
I'm from Buffalo too and I disagree with the previous Buffalo caller in that there is a huge Indian (India) population there and I was exposed to some amazing Indian musicians that came through to perform. Obviously the food too. I think the danger growing up in NYC is that it is very insular. Yes it is diverse, however, it is easy to just stay around your own kind here, which can give kids the wrong impression of what the rest of the world is like. The world is MUCH bigger than NYC!
@Martin ChuzzlewitYour NYC seems to be composed of only poor, single parent households where the kids are glued to the tv and the super rich with kids at Dalton. If that's all you've seen of NYC then you don't reall know the city.
Tom in DC makes good points and I think that probably an important distinction here is Big City versus Big Suburb (especially affluent) America as opposed to Big City versus Small-Medium Town America.
I grew up in both the city and suburb; and raised my kid in both and I can attest that the city is better. The city gives children a lot of freedom that the suburbs can't for one simple reason, that they don't need an adult to get them around. I used to have to taxi them in the burbs which takes up a lot of time, money and frustration, while in the city they can get themselves to and fro on their own. And, they can help the parents by picking up younger kids from daycare, buying groceries, etc. Mobility isn't the only thing that the city offers. When I lived in the burbs people were never out. They drove into the neighborhood, waved to you, and drove into their garages. In the city, people are outside all the time and there are impromptu gatherings all the time. I didn't know any of my neighbors in the burb whereas I know all my neighbors in the city. The other advantages are a given: I don't have to drive; I can pop into a bar a block away; my grocery store is a couple of blocks away; and so on.I say this as a parent of four kids, I don't own a car, AND having lived in the burbs both growing up and after having kids. The city is definately better!
I am SOOO happy that I didn’t grow up in New York City and I feel badly for the kids I see now growing up in this paradoxical dichotomy of over- and under- parenting.
On the lower economic ladder many kids with one parent are left to find their acculturation from television, their peers and the ever coarsening nature of pop culture. At the top of the ladder, my friends’ children live in an artificial, self-indulgent bubble of restrictive supervision that seldom allows kids to be kids. I‘ve never met a Dalton kid who ever sat out under the street light on summer nights and pondered the eternal profound question of Mets or Yankees.
And this much heralded “diversity” benefit that comes only from living in a big city is a self-congratulatory myth perpetrated by those who have never lived in the rest of America. Guess what….West Virginia and Louisiana (even before the first decade of this century) are much more diverse than you think….and without the massive “undiverse” “ghettoized” neighborhoods that insulate groups and actually limit interaction. Just because you saw some South Asians on a subway train or bought a hot dog from them doesn’t make you more tolerant. I played in the dirt and in the schoolyard with them.
Yes, we hear the complaints of some adults here (gays, for example) who eventually fled to New York to escape what they now describe as a “horrorific” stifling mentality (though I notice that even here we feel the need for special schools to protect them from intolerance). But for most of us, it allowed a freedom that the big city never can…or will…provide.
The very premise of this segment reveals the conceit of the production staff in its assumption of big city superiority.
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Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
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