Question: When raising your kids, did you specifically choose where you lived based on the types of parents/families in the neighborhood? If so, what was that decision based on (occupations, church affiliation, etc)? Do you think it made a difference in your kids' choices?
The answers to this question were very mixed. Some believe very strongly that the location their kids were raised in made a big difference, and others feel confident that they raised their kids well in challenging locations because of their personal standards. Some believe that the challenge of location/school was good for their kids, and yet others believe providing a location with friends and leaders who have the same standards was a huge blessing to their family.
Cynthia (and Brad)
Our children were raised in the mission field where there were few Mormons in the high school. We chose to build in a neighborhood of middle class homes with non members who were basically solid citizens who were church going. Our children were encouraged to have friends who were good people regardless of their faith or parents' educations. However Church, seminary, and keeping the sabbath were the priority in their lives and we provided the example. I am happy that my children were exposed to good people, good books, good entertainment and multiple faiths. They made good choices all the time because they were taught the truth and had to be the example of church beliefs in a world that did not always have the same standards.
Marsha (and Richard)
Yes, yes, yes! We specifically moved from one area to another to put our children in an environment that more closely reflected our personal values. We were concerned that the young people in our area were not thinking in terms of college and had different goals than we wanted for our children. We moved to an area where college was expected, education highly valued, good schools available and a solid ward and stake. It made a lot of difference as peers positively influenced our children. Getting an education, going on missions, living church standards were the norm. The high school was usually led by active church members and living the standards of the gospel was respected.
I am grateful beyond words for the wonderful influence strong adults and young people had on our children as they were mentored along the way by great examples. I realize that everyone is not blessed with this opportunity and many are stronger for having been raised in other atmospheres but the stability of our area still blesses each one of us. Many of our children have chosen to return to the valley and chose similar areas for their children. Working together blesses us all.
[note: this is outside of Utah.]
Samantha (and Thomas)
We never had much choice where we lived. But the school we chose might serve as a proxy. Our neighborhood was bussed to the most demographically-challenged school in our city. There was always a carpool going to a school closer that had a more upscale student population.
We felt strongly that our kids (sheltered White Mormon kids) would benefit from being part of a more ethnically and socioeconomically diverse school--and that the school would be benefitted as well. I was very involved at the school and spent a lot of time helping them see the good (and the not so exemplary) around them. It seemed easier to me to deal with blue-collar crime that tends to be "in your face" than with white collar crime that might be hidden behind the cute clothes.
They learned to have compassion, recognize right from wrong, feel empathy, form friendships with kids from very different backgrounds and see that people are people wherever you go. You find what you look for. Teachers were glad they were in their classes, and they learned that you can make a difference wherever you are, if you just try.
For over 20 years, we feel it was a good experience. We made a difference in the school, and our kids gained insight they might never have known elsewhere.
Abigail (and Martin)
We mostly bought houses because my husband is in the mortgage industry and he was able to find good homes for great prices. We had our kids in a special pullout program in elementary and middle school, so it didn't really matter where we lived, as long as we were in the district. We did find that some neighborhoods were better for some of our kids and other neighborhoods were better for others. I think it would be hard to find the ideal neighborhood for all of the children. As parents, it is important to make sure your kids are involved somewhere in some activity where they can associate with other children who help them be the best they can be and gain a good self image and self confidence.
Mary (and Robert)
We did our fair share of moving around while the kids were young. We have lived in California, Utah, South Carolina and back to Utah. I really believe that it made my kids stronger and more able to adapt to new situations. We were influenced by my husband's work and that alone. Our choices of neighborhoods were the availability and suitability of the home. I have always felt that we could raise our children in any school, any neighborhood and any ward. You will find what you are looking for.
If you expect people to be stuffy and snobbish that's what you'll find. If you expect members of the ward to receive you with open arms, you can have that too. We went into every new situation with an open mind. We met good people and good kids to play with. We also found some of the most spiritual wards. You gather to you what you are putting out. Friendliness begets friendships. High standards and good behavior are most likely to attract like-minded people.
I will never regret the changes we made. It was a learning and growing experience for all of us. We had a few hiccups along the way. Not everyone was happy all the time. But we look back with good memories of all of it.
Kenneth and Catherine
We were both born in Salt Lake City and have lived for about three years each in Michigan and Pennsylvania. We moved back to Salt Lake and feel we were directed by the Spirit to live in a wonderful area and built our home here along with many wonderful LDS families which has been a great blessing for each of our five children because they have all had great friends who have blessed their lives. This has been ideal for our children and for us.
Danielle and Jake
We owned our first home in Holiday and there were a total of 18 children under the age of 12......When we moved, we picked an area of starter homes with 200 in the Primary...most of the families left over the years. We have chosen to stay for the stability. We are 'needed' in our area and ward. We have never regretted adding a great room on the back and staying put. We are blessed every day for our decision to help our area grow in the Gospel. Our children and extended families love to come "home" to us.
Daniel (and Barbara)
We knew that the Jordan School District was a good district, but we bought our home based on three criteria:
1. It had to be affordable.
2. It had to have room for a music studio because my wife taught piano and voice lessons. Consequently each of our children has a musical background.
3. It had to have a lot large enough to accommodate a tennis court. I was part owner in a company that installed tennis courts and had been on the high school tennis team so a tennis court was something he felt would be important for the family activities. That proved to be true because all but one of our children were on the high school tennis team. The tennis court also served as a half-court basketball area.
We chose to live in the area even though I traveled to Clearfield for employment for 14 years. Our children did not want to leave the area because they really liked Hillcrest High School, their educational opportunities, and friends. The church was very strong in our area also.
Jane (and Samuel)
Yes, as much as possible we chose to live where there were members of the church. Especially our last move, we bought a house in a town we were not certain we would be living in very long because we wanted our last son to have a home in a nice neighborhood and we wanted him to move with us even though he was almost 18 and in the middle of his Senior year of HS when we moved. Although it was hard for him to leave his old friends, the move changed his perspective and probably where he attended college and whom he married. We are really happy we had that year with him before he left on his mission. Had we rented a house and not felt like this was going to be home he might have decided to stay in the former town with his brother or cousin and friends and we would have missed that special time leading up to his mission and his return. I believe that living in a place where you have the gospel in common and other things such as education and income relative makes raising children in the church easier....as long as the other church members in your neighborhood are active and faithful. Kids get very sensitive about hypocrisy.
Next week's question: How did you encourage your children to finish the Book of Mormon on their own and at what age?