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I Feel Guilty Raising My Kids in the City

Photograph by Getty Images

When I was little, my family moved from Manhattan to a sleepy bedroom community in Connecticut. Mom didn't want to leave the city, but Dad thought kids should grow up in a house with a yard, and I guess he won the coin toss.

In many ways, I benefitted from growing up suburban: tree climbing and sprinkler running, frog catching and vegetable growing, sledding and backyard camping. But I know my mom missed the vitality of urban living. Sometimes what's good for the goslings isn't great for the goose.

A few decades later, I find myself in a similar predicament. I j ust had my second baby girl , and our family has clearly outgrown our two-bedroom apartment. I know this, because every night I have to shove two bikes and a scooter out of the way in order to serve dinner at the table.

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Moving seems like the logical thing to do, but it carries the baggage of a bigger decision: Should we stay in our urban (though family-friendly) corner of Los Angeles, or do we emigrate to the land of cul-de-sacs and block parties, as many have done before us?

The pros and cons list is endless.

Staying means we get to walk everywhere. My husband and I love to leave the car in park all weekend while we stroll to the market or out for ice cream. Walking is great exercise, even better people watching, and beats the hell out of constantly loading two kids in and out of car seats.

My husband and I are more inclined to stay. If we left it up to our four-year-old, I think she'd choose the place with room for a swingset.

And selfishly, I believe city life keeps me young. I feel connected to the world, and more in tune with the person I was before I had kids. If I ever have a rare moment to myself, I know I can spend it in a cool coffee shop, browsing a bookstore, or even at a matinee movie, all super close to home. As our kids get older, they might dig these things too.

Of course, if we head for the 'burbs, a lot of things get easier. There would be more room for toys, bikes, forts and even out-of-town guests. Plus, our kids could have the same formative outdoor experiences I treasured, like picking wildflowers, finding caterpillars and climbing rocks. Right now, I fear they get most of their nature in books. And I feel bad about that. About 98% of the most magical parts of my childhood occurred in the yard and woods around our house. (The other 2% at Disney World.)

RELATED: The Real Cost of Raising Kids in the City

So what's the right move?

My husband and I are more inclined to stay. If we left it up to our four-year-old, I think she'd choose the place with room for a swingset. But should the kids' interests always supercede the parents'?

I get that having children requires a great deal of personal sacrifice. I gladly gave up my body, my sleep and 100% of my free time (Weekends? What are those?). But giving up the city might be farther than I'm willing to go.

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