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Thread summary:

Seeking opinions on suburban sprawl effect on children, children more dependent on adults, less achievement in schools, less time spent with family

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Old 01-25-2008, 09:34 PM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
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I just finished reading Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, an expert in urban planning and development.

I have always been very interested in urban geography and community development and revitalization. I been involved in Real Estate sales, investment, rehab, and development since over 25 years since I was 19 years old.

As a middle-school math teacher for the past 14 years I have witnessed behavioral changes in children as our communities have moved from a neighborhood-centric configuration to a more divided model of segmented purposes and automobile-dependent connectivity.

The result, as Duany accurately indicates, is a loss of independence for children resulting in an increased dependence on adults, undesirable social interactions, and reduction in personal responsibility and achievement in school.

Adults have seen an increase in the amount of time required to commute to work, increase in their average weight, and decrease in the time available to spend with their children.

Do you agree that suburban sprawl is harmful to America's future? Why or why not?
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Old 01-26-2008, 03:38 AM
 
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Although my opinion is based on my daughter living in VT, which is rural, versus living in NJ where I raised my children, I have to say although they have to drive to play dates, functions, etc., the children are less dependent upon outside stimulus and more family-oriented. There is no Toys R Us, or big stores in the vicinity, so a trip to big shopping is an 1-1/2 hour trip each way. My granddaughter, 6 yrs old, had never been to a Toys R Us until recently. Was she impressed? No. Was very happy to have a balloon from Home Depot.

The family does a lot of activities together, winter sports and summer sports, television is limited, and plays board and card games together. Children attend private school, highly rated.

Children seem content with the simple things in life and do not miss the activities where they are driven from activity to activity and lack family time.
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Old 01-26-2008, 05:48 AM
 
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You can't just blame it on sprawl - a lot of it also has to do with changing societal expectations.

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood, one of the originals - built in the 1950's. I grew up in the '70's. We had neighborhood connecting in to other neighborhoods. We had a grocery store about 3 blocks away, and next to it a small drug store/ice cream store.

We played outside all the time. Winter - we had a game to see "who could fall down the most on the ice" (yes, we were stupid), we built snow forts, we had snow ball fights. In the summer we just aimlessly rode our bikes around. Ride bike for 2 hours, stop at park, play in park, ride bike for 2 more hours. Even after video games were introduced (Ahh.. the Atarti 2600) - we still played "out" more than "in".

And yes - we did walk up to the ice cream store, and friends parents would send us to the drugstore with a note to buy cigarettes for them (seriously, the 70's rocked!) when we were like 7 years old.

How many parents now would be okay with seeing their 7 year old child leave at 7am in the summer with their bike, and not see the child again until 7pm at night??

I don't have children (near future, hopefully) - but everyone who I know as a parent says that they "keep watch" on the child constantly. Gone are the days of exploring your neighborhood on your own. Gone are the days of entertaining yourselves..

That has nothing to do with urban vs. sprawl, or city vs. suburban. That has everything to do with the increased paranoia of today's parents, and the media's hype of "danger behind every corner".

You could put a kid in the most interesting outside environment in the world, with plenty of things to walk to and see within a one block radius - but if they're not allowed off the front porch, they aren't going to see anything!
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Old 01-26-2008, 10:17 AM
 
Location: Back in MADISON Wi thank God!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Briolat21 View Post
You can't just blame it on sprawl - a lot of it also has to do with changing societal expectations.

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood, one of the originals - built in the 1950's. I grew up in the '70's. We had neighborhood connecting in to other neighborhoods. We had a grocery store about 3 blocks away, and next to it a small drug store/ice cream store.

We played outside all the time. Winter - we had a game to see "who could fall down the most on the ice" (yes, we were stupid), we built snow forts, we had snow ball fights. In the summer we just aimlessly rode our bikes around. Ride bike for 2 hours, stop at park, play in park, ride bike for 2 more hours. Even after video games were introduced (Ahh.. the Atarti 2600) - we still played "out" more than "in".

And yes - we did walk up to the ice cream store, and friends parents would send us to the drugstore with a note to buy cigarettes for them (seriously, the 70's rocked!) when we were like 7 years old.

How many parents now would be okay with seeing their 7 year old child leave at 7am in the summer with their bike, and not see the child again until 7pm at night??

I don't have children (near future, hopefully) - but everyone who I know as a parent says that they "keep watch" on the child constantly. Gone are the days of exploring your neighborhood on your own. Gone are the days of entertaining yourselves..

That has nothing to do with urban vs. sprawl, or city vs. suburban. That has everything to do with the increased paranoia of today's parents, and the media's hype of "danger behind every corner".

You could put a kid in the most interesting outside environment in the world, with plenty of things to walk to and see within a one block radius - but if they're not allowed off the front porch, they aren't going to see anything!
I believe this is very accurate and I agree.We recently moved. We chose a family friendly neighborhood.Our kids are 2 blocks from school and walk to and from everyday.Obviously,some houses are afew blocks further from school,but I am so surprised by how many parents walk their kids to and from school,or drive them!When we got here in the summer,we let our boys ride their bikes around and explore.One day the neighbor kids joined them and their mom went riding after them to keep watch on them.Now,I believe in being careful,teaching your kids what to look out for etc.But I think you are correct.Kids need to learn some independence and be able to go out and explore.
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Old 01-26-2008, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Chaos Central
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Originally Posted by L.K. View Post
I believe this is very accurate and I agree. We recently moved. We chose a family friendly neighborhood. Our kids are 2 blocks from school and walk to and from everyday. Obviously,some houses are afew blocks further from school, but I am so surprised by how many parents walk their kids to and from school, or drive them! One day the neighbor kids joined them and their mom went riding after them to keep watch on them.
I agree with you and Briolat21. When I was a kid, we'd have died of shame to have somebody's mom following us around on our explorations.
In my last neighborhood, the neighbors walked their kids to the bus stop, which was less than a 2-minute walk away. I'd pass the bus stop and see as many parents as kids waiting for the bus, SUVs running, etc. We're talking a neighborhood with small lots and many bus stops so nobody lived more than 5 minutes' walk away.
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Old 01-26-2008, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Montana
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I think all these posts are very accurate and thought-provoking. When my children were young, we moved from a large city to a rural farming community. Best thing we could have done for our kids. I remember one time when the City Mouse family came to visit our Country Mouse family and I suggested that the kids (about 10 yrs old +/-) walk to the library (about 1/2 mile away). The mom was aghast that I would consider that a "safe" thing to do. And I must admit, when we lived in the city, it would not have been. I'm not so sure that moms in cities are being paranoid or not. Bad things do happen to kids, and they happen far more frequently than they did in the '70's and '80's.

The other thing that has really strangulated "having fun as a family" is the computer and video games. I'm not sure which came first - the chicken or the egg. Did video games become so popular because it was felt that it wasn't safe for kids to play outside? . . . Or did kids start getting so involved with these indoor activities that they no longer wanted to go outside and play with friends - that they prefered to "talk" to their "friends" online?
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:30 PM
 
Location: Barrington
45,767 posts, read 34,016,499 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Briolat21 View Post


That has nothing to do with urban vs. sprawl, or city vs. suburban. That has everything to do with the increased paranoia of today's parents, and the media's hype of "danger behind every corner".
I too was one of those out the door at 7 AM and home for supper, kids.
My parents had no clue where I was, who I was with or what I did and it was not becasue they did not care- it was that no one worried about stuff like this, back then.
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Old 01-26-2008, 04:44 PM
 
Location: NJ
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Totally agree with suburbia being harmful.

I read once that some colleges preferred urban and rural kids to suburban ones because they had a broader range of experiences, while suburban kids were overly protected and controlled and saw little of people outside their age range or social status.

I think suburbia stangles them unknowingly. As parents we have an obligation to teach our children to survive and prosper in the world as it is. By bringing them up in an artificially controlled environment, we fail.

And all the driving and activities are inane.

I am looking to move to a more rural/small town area in order to mitigate that. I really hate suburban life and want to leave it. I would move to the city if I could afford the kind of home I would like there.
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Old 01-26-2008, 05:13 PM
 
Location: In My Own Little World. . .
3,238 posts, read 7,965,513 times
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Originally Posted by AnthonyB View Post
Totally agree with suburbia being harmful.

I read once that some colleges preferred urban and rural kids to suburban ones because they had a broader range of experiences, while suburban kids were overly protected and controlled and saw little of people outside their age range or social status.

I think suburbia stangles them unknowingly. As parents we have an obligation to teach our children to survive and prosper in the world as it is. By bringing them up in an artificially controlled environment, we fail.

And all the driving and activities are inane.

I am looking to move to a more rural/small town area in order to mitigate that. I really hate suburban life and want to leave it. I would move to the city if I could afford the kind of home I would like there.
i agree with all of this, and i wonder if this is the basis for so many adult children still living at home. when we were young, we couldn't wait to leave home. you doubled up with friends, shared an apartment, and began your life. "kids" today of 25+ are still living with mom and dad, and i can't help but think the over protectivness in their younger years robs them of the desire to strike out on their own.
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Old 01-26-2008, 05:29 PM
 
Location: Central CT, sometimes NH.
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Like many who posted here, my friends and I enjoyed a wide degree of freedom and independence that helped shape who we are today.

However, today's neighborhoods are largely built on residences only not giving children the freedom to explore much more than carbon copies of the house they live in. Many of the wooded areas like the ones my friends and I used to explore have been taken down for the development of new subdivisions.

In my small city we are consolidating smaller schools into larger new facilities requiring an increase dependency on busing and the time students spend riding around the city.

I know that there are still areas around the country that are reminiscent of traditional America like many of us experienced growing up in the 60s and 70s, however, many more communities are following the sprawl model.

As a middle-school teacher I hear from the kids nearly everyday that they don't have much that they can do on their own. You can drive down many streets after school and practically watch the tumbleweed rolling down the road as the kids are locked indoors, sitting in daycare, or scheduled to death in supervised activities.
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