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2022-02-05 21:16:58 (UTC)

Prompt 151: City Kids, Suburban Kids

[NOTE: This entry is the first in the section labeled, "Urban Life."]

151. What are some of the qualities that a child could develop growing up in the city versus growing up in the suburbs? Write a small story about the same kid growing up in both sets of circumstances and how different life would be for him or her in either one.

I grew up in the 'burbs, and then moved to a city early in my college years. Nowadays I work in a city, and I live in the nimbus between what would be considered the city and its immediate suburbs. I think I've learned a fair amount regarding the contrast between the two.

I arbitrarily generated four categories to quickly compare the two environments, and rated them on a five-point scale.
CROWDS: What is the population density? The higher this number, the more people there are crammed into a smaller space. You have to share more.
CONVENIENCES: How quickly can you get what you want? The higher this number, the easier it is to find someone or something that provides it.
CULTURE: How interesting, diverse, and intellectually-stimulating is this place? The higher the score, the more variety in art, industry, and cultural activity there is likely to be.
COST: How much do you have to pay, either short- or long-term, to exist in this place? In general the higher the score, the more resources you'll need to direct towards food, clothing, and shelter.

Crowds: 5/5
Conveniences: 4/5
Culture: 4/5
Cost: 4/5

Crowds: 1/5
Conveniences: 2/5
Culture: 1/5
Cost: 4/5

This is a much more complex topic than the original question had hinted. Why live in the suburbs instead of the cities, and vice versa? The following is a collection of observations that point out that while living in the suburbs is nice if you can afford it, there are still consequences in terms of quality of life. Life in cities is bleak for the poor and idle, but for those with goals it's a nice racket.

What are the most important things a kid living in the city needs to learn how to do? I'd say learn how to access resources - which they're forced to share with a _lot_ more people - and learn some positive way to distinguish yourself from the masses of people that surround you.

Maybe this means straight-up education that allows you to take advantage of the various cultural and business opportunities present in cities (though in this day and age, quality in public education in cities has steadily declined for generations). Maybe this means entrepreneurship and starting a business of your own. Maybe this means jumping into a local industry opportunity with both feet as soon as possible, or providing a service for the masses of people in the city.

What are the most important things a kid living in the suburbs needs to learn how to do? They need to broaden their perspective. I think the suburbs are a silo, amplifying the attitudes of the "successful" people in that environment, and then muting everything outside of it. There is so much more beyond that insulated, suburban enclave.

Again, education is required here. But so is life experience (I'd argue that life experience is thrust upon city-dwelling kids by default). I think the nature of the 'burbs these days is to shelter youth from anything unsafe and uncomfortable. This has a tendency to encourage stereotypical thinking in those who haven't been tested with different points of view beyond their parents, relatives, church staff, or in some cases teachers.


Parents are obligated to provide a wealth of experiences and perspectives to their children in an effort to excite their kids' curiosity, engage their critical thinking, and obviously keep them safe from harm. Any parent who doesn't is lousy at their job.

If you're a parent in the city, engage your child's critical thinking skills early. You really can't depend on the school system to help with this, so make it a point to prioritize this. Only then can you help your kids steer clear of crime and negative influences.

If you're a parent in the suburbs, you need to provide opportunities for your kids to try a diverse range of opportunities. Put all that money you're making to good use: camping trips, visiting art museums, reading books, watching (good) films, clubs, sports, and spending time in nature.

No matter where your child is raised, the consequences are the same. If your kid does what every other kid does, if there's nothing to set your child apart from the herd, then they'll grow up and be just like the majority of adults: weak, bland, uneducated consumers focused on little beyond making money. If that's what you want for your kid, then very well. You're just a shitty parent. But at least you're not alone in that. So it goes.