Benefits of Community: Staying Together for the Kids Part I

a whole family

I have mentioned before in Money in the Wallet that much of the impetus for moving in with Patrick and Denise was due to wanting the children to grow up in a better neighborhood with more stability, having financial stability for them, and having more supervision for them.

Denise and I both grew up without ever moving. Patrick grew up for most of his childhood in the same home. We made solid friendships in our neighborhoods and enjoyed the freedom, creativity and exercise that having a group of neighborhood friends provided. I still remember rushing through my chores so I could “play outside”. I would then walk down to my neighbor Edith’s house and we built forts, rode bikes, created plays, dressed up, and spied on the cute neighbor boys (until we befriended them too). There were a lot of times that a dozen kids would be racing down the “hill” on their bikes or building a tree house. A lot of my best childhood memories were in that neighborhood:  terrifying sledding hills, truth or dare at birthday parties, and my first kiss. One of my brother’s best friends to this day, Devion, grew up  right next door.

When Mike and I were raising Kendrick and Cedrick in Homer, we were terrified to let them outside to play in the apartment buildings we lived in due to the number of drug dealers, the proximity to the road, and the quality of the families that did let their kids play in the neighborhood. One of the times we let them play outside, they actually started a small forest fire with the neighborhood kids (something that I never remember doing as a child regardless of the fact that I think we all had access to lighters – and knives- and guns for that matter).

In addition to the poor quality of the neiborhoods, we were constantly moving (I think 8 times in the first two years of marriage!) which we felt was detrimental to the kid’s sense of stability, but because we were renting, we didn’t have much choice in the matter.

When we moved up to Patrick and Denise’s, due to the suburban feel of the neighborhood, we felt confident for the first time in letting the kids out without close supervision. They were free to play in the yard, build a fort, or ride bikes with other kids.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have the skills yet to do this and would put their little noses against the glass windows and beg to come in or for us to come out  to play with them. (This would have been unthinkable for me as a child. All I wanted to do was go out and play with friends!) Eventually, they did make some friends in the neighborhood and due to the stability they have at school because we aren’t moving all the time, have the ability to make lasting  friendships at school as well.

Because we had better finances due to living in a two family home, we have also been able to provide for the kids to go to summer camps, winter retreats, have amazing Christmases and shop at better quality stores for their school clothing, something that would have been impossible before.

We have also been blessed to have more supervision for our kids. Both Mike and I work full time during the day but Patrick working very early in the morning and getting home in the afternoon and Denise going to work in the late morning, during the school year there was always an adult at home for general supervision when the kids were younger to prevent them from burning down the house. It gave them more freedom as well, because they could have friends over and cook food etc, things that they were not allowed when there was no adult at home.

The kids also had lots of extra transportation available to track and field, wrestling, multiple doctor’s appointments, and friends houses because Patrick and Denise were kind enough to take them, even when it was inconvenient for them. I am so greatful for their time and energy they have given to the kids. Next week I will continue this two part post with the relational benefits the children have been able to experieince.

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