Hey everybody, I’m not posting so much right now because I’m at a classical education conference, and gave two talks today. Tomorrow I should have a couple of good interviews up, though. Just wanted to let you know that I’m fine. It’s touching (seriously) when some of you will see that I haven’t posted in hours, and will write to see if I’m okay.
Here’s an interesting essay by a woman named Wendy DeChambeau, who moved with her husband and kids to Ecuador, because they didn’t want to raise the kids in the US. She writes:
Some of our friends turned on us, calling us terrible parents, or saying we were unpatriotic. Why would we want to leave the land of the free and the home of the brave? And where was Ecuador, anyway? Somewhere near Mexico? Africa? We were taking our children to a country that most Americans can’t even point to on a map. What were we thinking?
Well, we were thinking a lot of things, and taking a number of factors into consideration. In America, it seemed every third child was taking pharmaceuticals to treat behavioral issues, anxiety, or depression. High school students were unloading automatic weapons into their classmates. Opioid use was reaching all new highs. Bank executives were defrauding their customers and Wall Street was walking an increasingly thin tight rope. It felt like The American Dream as we knew it was all but gone, having transformed into a shadowy unknown. We fretted about what the future would hold for our family. We thought maybe, just maybe, a simpler lifestyle somewhere else was the answer. And so, in 2011, our family walked up to the edge of the unknown, took a deep breath, and jumped.
She writes that the culture shock was pretty intense at first, but they got used to it. And then good things began to happen:
For example, over the last six years, my children have experienced childhood without viewing the world through a privileged first-world lens. Though we live comfortably here in Ecuador, my sons are surrounded by families that work hard and live simply. There is no internet shopping. There are no big box stores stuffed to the brim with the latest useless merchandise. And Christmas in these parts is about church and family, not piles of presents and deepening debt.
While they’re still kids with wants and desires, runaway consumerism and material greed has passed right by my boys. When they do want something special, they’re willing to work for it — like when my oldest son baked and sold cupcakes to earn money for that electric piano keyboard he had been eyeing.
My kids have also learned to be patient. Living in a country where instant gratification is a laughable concept, you learn to develop some mad waiting skills. When my youngest found that his 11th birthday present was going to arrive two weeks late, he took it in stride. “That’s okay, mom, we’ll celebrate my birthday when it gets here.” I know that if this had happened to me, my 11-year-old self would have collapsed into tears.
Read the whole thing. She says that they’re going back to the US (the boys) for college, but she will always be grateful for them not having an American childhood.
What do you think? Which bad things about an American childhood would you like your kids to avoid, or to have avoided? Which good things would you worry that they would miss if you moved abroad?
If you had enough money to live comfortably in another country, and decided that you did not want to raise your kids in America, where would you relocate for your kids’ childhood? Why?
UPDATE: A reader writes:
Ecuador: quelle b.s.
I was in Guayaquil A few years ago at Christmas. At our hotel, they instructed us to take taxis everywhere in the city because armed robberies were the rule and not the exception for tourists.
Not only that, they told us not to hail taxis or call taxis directly, because it was not uncommon for fake taxis, or possibly real taxis, to rob the people they would pick up at various sites of interest.
Instead, we were instructed to call the hotel, which had taxi drivers that it trusted. They would send a taxi driver from the hotel to pick us up anywhere in the city. It did not cost any more, so I think the motivation really was safety and not money.
The only safe area was along the river in a protected zone where people were checked for weapons before being allowed to enter. That was the only place you could walk freely in the city day or night.
And on Christmas Eve, or maybe it was New Year’s Eve, we were told not to go outside for the fireworks because most of what we heard was automatic weapons being fired into the air.
That said, we really did have a great time in Ecuador. But moving there to escape the evils of America? What a joke.