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Parents Shamed for Not Giving Kids a Yard

It seems like for every parenting choice we make, there is someone waiting to attack it. Our most personal decisions, from how we give birth to how we feed our babies, are ripe for criticism from some bothersome idiot, online or IRL. Now a family in San Diego has been shamed for failing to provide their children with a large home and yard.

Yes, really.

Mike and Kelly Bruning received an anonymous letter in the mail accusing them of being “the most selfish parents around” for choosing to live in a two-bedroom, beachside apartment instead of a traditional home with a white picket fence and swing set. “Your boys are trapped in a tiny apartment,” the letter reads. “Kids need a yard to play in.” And then in all caps, “SHAME ON YOU.”

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This is bizarre on so many levels. Kids grow up in a wide variety of living situations, from closet-sized New York City apartments to multi-acre Midwestern farms. It shouldn’t matter as long as they are safe and loved, which the Brunings’ two children clearly are. And if they live at the beach, why on earth would they “need” a yard? Poor kids, forced to grow up building sand castles, learning to surf and working summer jobs as lifeguards. Sounds horrible!

Judgy McJudgerson was also appalled by the Brunings’ lack of square footage, writing,“I doubt either of you had to grow up under these conditions.” And by "conditions," this busybody is not referring to some sort of health hazard—just a smaller than average home. How materialistic do you have to be to think that the only way to fulfill the American dream is with a McMansion? Personally, I think a little less empty space can make a family closer, but maybe that’s just me.

As parents, we happily make many sacrifices for our children, including free time, sleep and the ability to pee alone. But we drew the line at geography.

I relate to the Brunings—and take offense on their behalf—because we made a similar housing choice, opting for a townhouse instead of a single family home so that we could live in a neighborhood we love. As parents, we happily make many sacrifices for our children, including free time, sleep and the ability to pee alone. But we drew the line at geography.

My husband and I like walking to shops and restaurants. We weren’t meant to live on a cul-de-sac, miles away from the action. That means our kids don’t have a yard, though there is a huge park three blocks away. Maybe some people would view our decision as selfish, but that’s not how we see it. To us, happy parents are a key ingredient in making happy children. And besides, our kids aren’t exactly complaining about living across the street from an ice cream parlor.

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Like that poor, suffering family in San Diego, our children also share a room. I’ll admit, I was initially worried about the logistics of room sharing, but it has turned out to be a total blessing. Both kids feel safer and less afraid of things that go bump in the night because they always have each other. And my older daughter is learning to be considerate of someone else’s needs, tip-toeing quietly into her bedroom after baby sister is asleep. This is a good thing. I wouldn’t trade it, and apparently, neither would the Brunings.

Kelly Bruning tells KSWB San Diego, “Our home is perfect for us.”

And shouldn’t that be all that matters?

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Photographs by: Bruning Family

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