Can Raising Your Kids Away From Family Be A Good Thing?
This past weekend, the article, Why Raising Kids Without Family Nearby Sucks by Scary Mommy was being shared on Facebook.
I could really relate to most of that post, as many other military spouses can too.
We have not lived near family since my oldest son, who is almost 14, was six months old. We have never really had local family to help us along the way. My kids don’t know our families as well as they could. There are a lot of things they are missing out on because of living far from home.
Some of my friends do live near their family. I see their parents stepping in for different situations. They seem to always have a backup. If dad has to work, and mom has to take one kid to an appointment right when school gets out, a family member can pick up the other kids.
I see how friends can attend family birthday parties, and go out with their parents on Mother’s day, and Father’s day. I see how grandparents go to all the sporting games, school plays, and other events that kids take part in.
While some of our family has been able to come and visit and experience some of that, it hasn’t been the norm.
When I think about all of this, when I think about how our lives would be different if we lived closer to family, I couldn’t help but wonder if I am looking at that through rose colored glasses? Maybe it wouldn’t be as wonderful as I think it would be? Maybe, for my personality, it would drive me nuts? Maybe I am thinking all of this to cope with the fact that it might not ever work out to live near family?
When I was growing up, I wanted to get out and explore other places. I wanted to know what living somewhere else was like. I wanted to experience something completely different. Because of this, I moved about nine hours away from home for college. Then, my husband and I moved to Kentucky in 2005. The Army took us to Germany, and then Tennessee. None of these places are like where I grew up in Southern California.
These days, we have a home here in Tennesse, in a military friendly city, that we usually enjoy living in.
We are over 2,000 miles from most of our family. And sometimes I like that.
Don’t get me wrong. I miss my family like crazy. I wish I could be there too most days. To go to my dad’s concerts, to meet up during the week for lunch with my mom, to be there as my brother starts a family. I hate missing so much.
But the reality is, I am not sure what it would be like to live near my family. I have never really done it except for extended trips. I don’t know what it is like to be able to see them all the time or to have such easy access.
Do I get along so well with my family because I don’t live close? Would there be drama if I was? I just don’t know.
So on those days when I am feeling bad because I am not raising my kids near family, I try to think of the positives of this way of life. The quiet Christmas mornings, just our family of five. Being able to parent the way I want without a lot of well-meaning opinions thrown into the mix. Being able to vacation in Southern California vs trying to raise a family. Because I am not even sure how people do that these days and a lot of my friends have moved out of state for cheaper places to live anyway.
Military families can have amazing experiences during their time in the service.
They can live down the road from a castle in Germany. They can be stationed near the beaches of Hawaii. They can live off the California coast, or have the mountains of Colorado as a backdrop. And a lot of these experiences come at the cost of not being able to live near family. Of missing out on too much. Of being the out-of-town people who visit once in a while.
And maybe, in the end, there is no perfect way to do this. Perhaps each type of life comes with its own set of pros and cons. And perhaps those are different based on who you are and what you want in life.
And when you are raising your kids away from family, you find a way to make things work.
You have to rely on other people, which can be hard, but which can also help you grow relationships you wouldn’t otherwise have. You learn different skills and work to make a good life for your kids, even if extended family isn’t the biggest part. You learn to adjust and figure out a way to make it through.
As for us, I really don’t know what the future holds. Somedays I want to move back to the west coast, and others I am perfectly fine here in Tennessee.
What about you? Have you ever lived near family? Did you like it? Do you dream of a life where you can?