Thursday, 20 June 2013

A great place to raise kids?

Okay so I live in Exeter, which most people would regard as a nice place to live and a 'great place to raise kids'. Maybe for some of you what you are about to read is therefore quite silly... anyway...

Nearly a year ago we moved house. One of the big questions we thought about was 'do we move in?' or 'do we move out?'


Do we move into the city area? Walking distance to the town centre? Lots more people around? A diversity of people? Less land maybe? Not as 'nice'?  City school? Walk up to city events?


Do we move out of the city area? Lots more land? Space? Countryside? Peace and quiet? Village school? 'Nice'? I even thought we could have some rugby posts in the garden... I'm told that people who can afford it move out to places like Woodbury.  Swanky.

In the end, we decided to move 'in'.

Soon afterwards, friends of ours were visiting us from London and we were bragging about our new home. We walked out the door and around the corner to enjoy the local quayside. Me, Chloe, kids and our friends were shocked to see two men fighting on the floor. One was bloodied, got thrown into the road and hit a car on the door. I guess this doesn't happen much in Exeter compared to other cities. I guess it happens even less in the country.

Our son is just about to start primary school. It has been an interesting journey for us. Some of the people who we have got to know are now moving out of the area for schools or looking for countryside options for there kids. Hmmmmm. What are we doing?

Chloe and I listened to a talk by Tim Keller called, 'It takes a city to raise a child.' If you are a Christian parent you might find it interesting. The first 30 mins are his talk followed by Q&A. In it he argues it can be much better to be in a city. Clearly he is in New York which is not really comparable to Exeter. However, Chloe and I still felt the in/out question and we found it helpful at this point.

As we are 'in' Exeter', with all its advantages and disadvantages, I was encouraged by his points:


If you live 'in' there is more going on for you to do with your kids, like live music, festivals, theatre etc - you need to find stuff to do for them.

Teenage Years

If you live in a place which is 'great for kids', by the time they become teenagers they will be bored and looking to get out. They may want to move asap and in the meantime you have to drive a lot!

Role Models

If your Church is a city church with 20s in it, your teenage kids are more likely to find role models who they respect within the faith. I'm glad my Church is like this.


If you live in a city and know more of 'real life', including I guess the fight we saw, your life and faith will have a credibility before your children as they grow up.  A great question our kids will ask is 'can our faith cope with the challenges of everyday life?' Personally, I have found it helpful to walk home past homeless people everyday, to have stinking litter on the streets for days on end, to have loud music opposite us and have our shed broken in to. It's one of the things that helps me as a pastor to stay a little grounded. Maybe? Even in Exeter? Will my kids see me as in touch with reality? I think this is more likely now that we have moved in.

I've never heard someone speak like this before. It made me wonder about myself, Church, faith, preferences, calling, in/out and parenting. I found it very thought provoking...

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