We all know them. Those friends we have wagered on how long they'll make it. Make it in the city that is, before fleeing to the suburbs with their newborn. Then there are others who have been vocal from the start, "we're moving to the suburbs so we can start a family".
So why do so many people avoid raising their kids in the city? I think it's protection. They want to protect their kids from the harshness of the city, and live an easier life where they aren't faced with tough issues like homelessness, poverty, multiple cultures fighting each other for a piece of the city, and cramped multi-family living. In general, the city is much more full of daily in-your-face situations that can make you squirm when your child asks you to explain them.
This is why I have intentionally chosen to be in an urban environment with my children. I think it pushes me to be a better parent. It forces me to think about issues and what I really believe, so that I can then explain things to my children. I think it's real to live in the city. When my kids visit Europe for the first time, they won't be hit with shock and awe. This is one of the reasons why my family loves living in Uptown. It's truly a window to the world.
Now, we city dwellers do have our daily living issues such as schooling, cost of living, and housing. Many of us live in multi-family dwellings that are often very anti-family. In fact, right now my kids are scared of the two people that live below us. We are constantly harassed by them banging on their ceiling (our floor) and screaming obscenities at us through the ceiling, anytime they hear the slightest noise or movement in our unit-and particularly if it is made by our children. One of them is a teacher at a Chicago Public School who apparently uses up all his kiddy niceness at work each day.
But that's city life. The "bangers" (as my kids call them), as well as us, made the choice to live in a multi-family building. This one situation has given my kids the chance to see how you are forced to live around others in life, and that there are right and wrong ways to do it. I don't think they would have experienced this in the suburbs.
We do have our bonuses too though. Like the never-ending supply of trash trucks and emergency vehicles to give my son a thrill many times a day, walking out our front door to a restaurant, a market, a park or wherever else we might need to go, and the public transit system to get us around so well we don't even need a car. In fact, until a year ago, even with two kids, my family did not own a car! Then there is that feeling of human density. Of being surrounded so closely by others that you truly feel part of the city.
Now, would I like a little bungalow with a white picket fence and a yard? Sure, as long as it is deep in the heart of the city.