I grew up in a medium-sized town in the middle of America, a place where most people lived in a individual homes with big yards and lots of space. Most of my adult life has been spent in the confines of big cities and I’ve lived in apartment buildings. My apartments have been big and very small but always smaller than the average American house…and forget about having a yard. This has been a great life as an adult but a lot of Americans claim that the city is no place to raise children. I think that millions of urban families in Europe would beg to differ.
Back when I lived in the downtown area of Seattle there was hardly a family to be found as they preferred to nest out in the residential or suburban confines of the city. I can’t say if things have changed since I moved from Seattle seven and a half years ago. I can say that the dense urban environment where I now call home is loaded with families. In Seattle I would see families coming and going to the Seattle Center and other tourist attractions but it was just plain odd to see children in most of the places I frequented. Minors aren’t allowed in bars in America and in Seattle they weren’t even allowed in the bar area of restaurants. Here in Spain bars have a lot more functions than just handing out alcoholic beverages and children are welcomed everywhere.
I bring this up because I was at a sidewalk café yesterday watching the Barça-Valencia football match and along with the adults there was a strong contingent of kids in the crowd. I think kids here have a completely different kind of life than most American children. For one thing cars aren’t a part of their lives until they reach 18 years old and then only for a small portion of those with the means to own a car. Kids either walk, or ride the bus, or take their bikes, or they are passengers in their parents’ cars. I personally don’t think that people under 18 have any business behind the wheel of a car so this suits me.
I think that what urban kids miss in having wide open spaces to play they make up for in culture. I wouldn’t try to argue one way or another about which sort of life is better for children. These days I hardly think it makes a shred of difference one way or another whether a child grows up in the city or the suburbs. Most young boys only want to play video games and little girls are hypnotized by their iPhones.