Please, please, PLEASE for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE stop feeling guilty for not giving your kids the childhood YOU always wanted! The truth is, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and the childhood you look at with longing and think was somehow “better” than your own comes with a LOT of drawbacks.

For one thing, when you look at all of the religious zealots in the country, chances are very good they never moved far from home, changed schools or were exposed to very different ideals, worldviews and mindsets growing up. In other words, they had exactly the childhood you are idolizing.

For so many of those kids, going to college (if they go to college at all) will be a massively traumatic experience for them and many will drop out and return to what is safe, comfortable and familiar. They literally have no clue how to process views other than their own because they have literally never been exposed to them.

Many will have a superior mindset. When everyone you know agrees with you and shares all the same values, it makes it incredibly easy to simply dismiss anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Even more problematic, it can make you feel persecuted when and if you ever actually become exposed to a group of people that do not share your same worldview and values. It makes you feel as if everyone is “ganging up on you” when you suddenly get thrust into a situation where the majority holds a different worldview than you and the “majority” you grow up with. This can create a “crisis of faith” many will simply run from. Others will turn away from their childhood beliefs and embrace the worldview of their new culture and in many cases can end up being ostracized by their families and communities instead.

What you see as an ideal way to raise children, I see as the blueprint for everything that is wrong with America. Yes, raising children in the same place, particularly a nice, safe small town, can create an idyllic childhood for sure, but I feel more strongly than ever that it does not raise good citizens of a diverse nation. How can you ever possibly value diversity when you have spent your entire life in enforced homogeneity?

I genuinely believe that it is only in coming smack up against contrary values, differing ideals and even different traditions and social norms that we develop empathy. Experiencing different types of community is really the only way to realize people can be very different from us and have very different values and still be “good people.”

The same way inbreeding is catastrophic genetically, I believe the same thing happens with sociological or intellectual inbreeding. If you look at where communities are smallest and most tight-knit, you will also most likely find the highest instances of abuse. Don’t believe all the picture-perfect things you see on social media.

While there is nothing wrong with raising your kids in one place, it can create tremendous difficulties in adulthood. By moving your kids to different communities and exposing them to different values and social norms, you have far better prepared them to venture into and embrace different cultural norms as adults.

Too many children raised in the insular environments of small towns can never break free of them because they’ve literally never been taught how to manage diversity because they’ve also literally never been exposed to it.

If you want to know where the majority of narrow-minded bigots come from, it is very often those small, insular communities. If you wonder why they never recognize themselves as such, it is because everyone around them thinks and believes exactly like them and if they don’t, they are often shunned. More often than not, there is no room for diversity in communities like that.

So while yes, I realize it is a very appealing image to raise your children from K-graduation in a single community, there is a very real dark side to that image as well.

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Jun 23, 2022Liked by Sarah Styf

I can’t imagine moving so many times in such a short and important time in your life! Although your kiddos have moved a couple times.. in the very least .. they have a mom who can completely understand the situation their going through and be a great supporter during the tricky times!

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Most of my childhood was spent in Singapore; I'm in my 40s now and I've known many of my best friends for almost 40 years. It is a special connection, and I know my daughter is losing something by us choosing to move around. But, as you say in your post, our kids will gain different things through their experiences. Already I see an easy adaptability in my daughter that I never had.

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I enjoyed this and can relate to the feeling. I only moved 3 times during childhood but never formed those lifelong friendships. At times I have those feelings of regret but they are offset by my gratitude for the resilience and adaptability that enforced moves created in me.

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