Question of the week #10

ImagesCan you elaborate on
your perspective on raising a family in NYC? Do you regret leaving the city for
the suburbs prior to being in your current financial position?

love this question.  You can think of us
as ahead of the curve or crazy for moving our kids back to the city at 8, 6 and
3 years old.  For us it was a dream come

moving back, there is not a day where I am not grateful for living in NYC.  For our kids there are a million reasons why
it has been a wonderful place to raise them. 
Here are just a few. 

have been exposed to a diverse culture of people, food, religions, economic
differences and life choices living in downtown NYC and going to Little Red
Elisabeth Irwin.  They have been
empowered and independent since they began walking to school on their own from end of 5th grade.  They learned to be
street smart when it comes to making decisions when one has to navigate a
city.  They were able to embrace the
cultural events, the latest store, movie or restaurant because they were
curious about what was happening in their own town and the streets they were
walking every day.  They have watched a
neighborhood transform and with that comes a better understanding of how
economies change and capitalism works. 

we never returned from the suburbs then all 3 of them would probably have been
different kids.  I can always find the
good in anything and we would have been just fine in the suburbs but regardless of our financial success, which allowed us to make the move back, I am not so
sure we would have survived there.  We
probably would have figured a way back before anyone ever graduated from high
school.  It wasn’t for us.  When I look back at that time period,
although we made some incredible friends and those were wonderful years with
the kids, I was probably depressed.  I
just was not that happy being me. 

they grew up quicker because of living in NYC. 
Perhaps they are more sophisticated at a young age because they grew up
in NYC.  But the bottom line is, happy
parents make happy kids.  We are happy
here.  We love this town like no other
and if you ask our kids what is the best decision we ever made for them in their
entire lives it would be making the move back to NYC.

Comments (Archived):

  1. takingpitches

    I grew up in a city and grew up a lot faster but so happy for it.We are about to have two and giving it a shot staying in NYC. I am so excited to give it a try!

    1. Gotham Gal

      not easy but well worth it if you can.

    2. daryn

      Congratulations! My brother raised three kids in NYC (until 9, 5, and 3) and they are some of the most well adjusted kids I know. They recently moved out to Vancouver, and there’s such a big difference between them and the other kids around them. Of course their parents are a big part of that, but it really is striking.

      1. takingpitches

        Thank you!

  2. Adrian Bye

    great post

  3. Meredithcollinz

    Great love letter to NYC. I couldn’t agree more. After 20 years here, I am still learning something new every minute of every day. The city shows you just how many possibilities there are -endless! Great gift to your kids!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Total love letter. Love love my town

      1. Meredithcollinz

        It really is a town, isn’t it? People think it’s too big to be personal or feel like “home”, but I surely say hello to more people walking down the street in my little part of the East Village than I did in the little town I grew up in. Love it too.

        1. Gotham Gal

          So true

  4. Laura Yecies

    I assume you taught them to drive? That’s the one thing my NYC friends that I met in college didn’t know!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Absolutely. They both have cars at school so they can still feel empowered to be free

  5. leeschneider

    How did you handle schools? Public vs. Private?

    1. Gotham Gal

      We opted for a private downtown school that is very diverse and progressive

      1. leeschneider

        K – 12? Simply curious. My wife and I live in Downtown Boston, so public schools aren’t really an option. But at the same time I’m terrified of the cost of private school when the cost of day care and preschool can get upwards of $30K/year! Granted our son is just a few months old, but it’s never too early to start thinking about this stuff.

        1. Gotham Gal

          The price of a private education is through the roof. If our country started plowing money back into the public school system that would be a very good thing

          1. leeschneider

            Yes, my wife and I are both big proponents of public education. Both went to public school K – 12 and she is a high school spanish teacher (although currently out on maternity leave – which is an entirely different, somewhat infuriating topic).

          2. Wavelengths

            Yep, but the underlying thesis of the public education system would have to change. My daughter had one wonderful year with a gifted, compassionate teacher in a Waldorf environment (charter school).Photographic memory, creative, and not willing to regurgitate memorized data for tests, my kid was in the bottom 10% of the class. Had straight A’s in an environment that would let her learn and test in her own way. And zero success in any other environment.By statistics I studied when I was trying to find her ideal environment, out of 10 students, the top 2 will succeed no matter what, the bottom two have no chance of being educated by the present system, and the middle 6 will somehow muddle through, no credit to the system. Interestingly enough the bottom two might be fully as intelligent as the rest, but not teachable by present system methods.I found this today, and my heart leaped as I looked at the enthusiasm and intelligence around this project. Notice that this kid is home-schooled. Home-schooling is not the answer, by my reckoning, but it says something about allowing kids to have alternatives to the present regimented system.

        2. JLM

          .The most fruitful and important years are middle school.Having sent two children to private schools — middle school is where the development really takes place.High school was just college “lite” and college was easy.They learn to study and to think critically in middle school.Take the HS savings and send them abroad to learn languages.This advice from arguably the single worst parent in the world…

          1. Wavelengths

            With a Perfect Daughter? Good for you. Maybe we can have coffee sometime. We can discuss how we are abysmal failures. With some redeeming qualities.:-)

          2. JLM

            Count on it.

      2. Wavelengths

        Good for you. When I had the option, I put my daughter into a bilingual 5/6th grade situation. Whether she ended up fluent in Spanish at the end of it was beside the point. She learned diversity and it has served her well.Understanding that genius and compassion, and “good racing stock” come from many diverse backgrounds is so very important for our kids to know, as they translate those concepts into who they trust, work with, invest in, and so on. However you manage to make that happen, you are doing a good thing.

  6. Guest

    Last paragraph is so true. Ultimately happy people can be happy anywhere, but there are some places that make people thrive. And that energy is contagious. It’s so different and much better than just being content.

    1. Gotham Gal

      For sure

  7. JLM

    .NYC did nothing. It was you and Fred. if you and Fred are happiest in NYC then that is all the better. Your happiness shows through to the brood and influences your parenting.I love NYC and yet I feel the same way you do about NYC about Austin, TX.Home is where the heart is..

    1. Gotham Gal

      Home is certainly where the heart is. Nothing like home

  8. Wavelengths

    “regardless of our financial success, which allowed us to make the move back, I am not sosure we would have survived there”Some people are not meant to live in the suburbs, or the remote, vast wastelands.You and Fred might be able to cope, to some extent, with internet and regular travel, but your experience wouldn’t extend to your kids, to allowing them to have a greater understanding of the big, wide world. Rural America, regardless of the mythology, is a lonely place to be for some people. (Check in with JLM and see if I know what I’m talking about!)I talked to my daughter in Austin two days ago. In my situation, many years ago, I chose to back her to be able to compete in a modeling casting call. She was picked and had several offers. She was 11 at the time. Maybe the casting call was a scam, maybe just skirting the definition. But she ended up on stage, having learned a theatrical part, and having been schooled in some measure of makeup and stage presence.Many, many modeling shoots later, a couple of days ago (most paid, but not megabucks, just fair for the effort), she told me she’d been selected to do a fast shoot of an art project, and the choice was made by a photog who was on his way to LA, but was stopping in Austin and saw her portfolio.Without her background of stepping up, putting the smile on, being professional for the camera, and really truly knowing it’s not just about being “pretty,” she wouldn’t have had some years of work, and the latest little fun project. (I coached her years ago that the camera needed faces, and it wasn’t about being pretty, it was about being professional.)This is what the greater background gives our kids. It’s no longer about the front door, and the backyard, and who the kids are in elementary school. When our kids have a much larger vision of the world, they are ready to step into much bigger shoes.Awesome that you chose to be in NYC for their growing-up years. My parents were in NYC environs when I was growing, and then moved to DC. I know I’ve been able to do many things because I understand a big city, and many diverse backgrounds. I relish ethnic and economic diversity, and I remain curious about how all the “wheels” work in this complicated, complex, wonderful world of ours.People who have a background of many layers have a better chance to understand the new markets, the untapped demographic, the under-served and even unknown new markets. And therefor the new opportunity for entrepreneurs, investors, and consumers.Kudos.Kudos.Yep, I’m sure it’s you and Fred, but you chose to give them an amazing context that will serve them well.

  9. daryn

    Timely. We’ve lived in urban neighborhoods for many years, and I always assumed we’d raise our kids in the city. But, a few weeks ago, as we started thinking about some of our life plans, we decided to make a move. The place we’ve chosen is just a short boat ride away from downtown, but it’s definitely not the city. There’s a lot of good going for it, but I am a little anxious to see how we adjust. That said, we’ve got a couple years before we move in, so who know what will happen by then!

    1. Wavelengths

      Access to diversity, an environment that encourages them to question, experiential living …Sometimes as kids we need peace and quiet to assimilate the new info — rural, peaceful, good garden soil? Happy parents? Regular access to city?If I were to design my ideal incarnation of myself, I’d be fairly close to who my kid is, even though she still wants some distance from me because I’m a pretty strong personality. :-)She travels well on her own, can speak her own mind in so many situations I can’t even begin … ! Is happily married (?! who would have thought!) and I gave her access to big and small cities, taught her that people came in many colors — taupe, mocha, espresso, 2%milk, peach (me), gentle olive … etc. She had no idea of the concept of racial discrimination until about 5th grade, when she was in a bi-lingual classroom.Encourage diversity, but let the kids have the rest of being rural, if you can give them that. I’d say. Having had access to my grandparents dairy farm in Massachusetts as I was growing up.The more you know, the more you know. 🙂

      1. daryn

        Thanks for sharing your wisdom!Those balances are what got us thinking about this. I grew up in a suburban neighborhood on the east coast, and my wife grew up in a farming town in Washington State, so we talk a lot about the pros and cons of each. I think you’re right, the key isn’t finding a utopia, it is diversity and experiences.

        1. Wavelengths

          Awww, this is what I love about the context that Fred and Joanne provide, and the people I meet through this environment. As Fred said today after someone apologized for hijacking his thread, “Hijack away! This is what it’s about!.” Forgive me if I misquote a little and feel free to look it up!I can talk about rural and East Coast urban, NYC environs and DC, as well as my relatives in Mass and Boston area. And Colorado, and LA, and Idaho! And I’ve also done some world travel. Yes I have opinions The fact that I find Joanne and Fred to be good internet “friends” says something about their broad interests and understandings of society. I feel they exemplify parents who are trying to give their kids the broadest, best experience. And, although they are NYC-centric, their financial reach certainly is far beyond nation-wide.The best I hope for kids growing up today in an environment where their parents can make choices, is that the kids have an awareness there there ARE choices.Tonight a neighbor kid delivered the cookie dough I bought to support him in his un-sought role as fundraiser for his school. He was wearing a jersey with his last name and the name of the local high-school athletic team. He’s in second grade. Does he know there is a world larger than this town of less that 7000 people?This is not a bad place for kids to grow up. But I hate to think that the kids don’t have access to the idea that there is more to life than being a roustabout or roughneck. (West Texas. I’m not from here.)Glad I can add to your resources. These are such important issues, and only us parents can make those decisions. And the decisions will make us smile or haunt us all our days — I can testify.

  10. BillMcNeely

    Up until 5 months ago we lived in a 1 hour north of Austin. Most weekends my wife Suzy and I would take our son Colgan to “the big city” for shopping food museums and the atmosphere. One drive home my wife told me it was too bad military bases and warehouses were not built nearer to cities as often as we are there.

    1. Gotham Gal

      big fan of Austin.

  11. Shripriya

    Singapore is my suburb. Missing NYC intensely…

    1. Gotham Gal

      i am sure you are. xoxo