May 25, 2015

Utah, The Second Worst Place in the Nation to Raise Kids

Utah was just ranked 50th (out of 50 states plus D.C.) in the Best and Worst States to Raise Kids.


Wow. I pretty much laughed when I read this article.
First of all, because it was based only on paid leave, and access to quality and affordable childcare.
Now THAT seems like the best way to determine the best states to raise children (insert sarcasm).

Policies that provide for more paid leave and better childcare may seem great on the surface, but every time policies are created, it takes tax dollars to implement those policies. Tax increases decreases net income and take away from our freedom to spend our income as we choose. In essence, new policy often decreases our freedom of choice.

So what's missing?
The fact that Utah has a higher percentage of stay-at-home moms than the rest of the country, and higher educated stay-at-home moms. (source)

My mom was a stay-at-home mom for much of my life, but there were still times when she wasn't there when I got home. However, because I grew up in a neighborhood where many of the women stayed home, or worked part-time or from home so they could be home more with their children, all of us were watched over.

Moms who stay home, work part time, work from home, or work odd hours to be with their kids, means kids are home, and playing. Unstructured play is essential for child development, read more about it here.
It also means that kids are exposed to many examples of home and family life, this allows them to see many healthy models (and some unhealthy) which will help them as they grow and develop and eventually start families and run households of their own. I learned as much about mothering from my friends' mothers as I did from my own.

We may have less paid leave, but I see more parent networking. I was picked up from school more than once by friends of my moms for different circumstances. Though this wasn't the case in my family, in Utah there often large extended families living close together. Meaning that often grandparents and aunts/uncles are jumping in to help out the parents.

Many of the day-cares in Utah are in-home day-cares, meaning that instead of an artificial, child-centered environment, many kids going to daycare are still experiencing a family setting on an everyday basis.

Utah may spend less per child on education but in my experience, Utah has teachers who care. Most of my teachers knew me (and my family) personally, and cared about me. I was influenced by teachers with strong morals. Many of my teachers had children who were my classmates, they were not just teaching kids, they were teaching and influencing the friends and peers of their own children.

My parents moved from Los Angeles, CA to Northern Utah when I was 5 years old, largely due to the fact that they didn't want to send me to public school in LA., and they wanted their kids to grow up in a neighborhood, with friends, and other families with similar parental values.
California had many great things, but beaches aren't everything ;)  
In LA I attended an amazing parent co-op pre-school! One I would love to have access to for my own children. But pre-schools aren't everything.

There are wonderful people, and experiences everywhere, and sometimes I long for the opportunity to have an out-of-state adventure with my own little family. To have my kids experience more than Utah. I often become frustrated at the lack of outdoor recreation and exploration opportunities in the small town in which we live. I want my children to live out of state at some point, and certainly outside of our small town. At the same time, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to raise my children in a family-oriented state, such as Utah.

THANK-YOU to all the moms who influenced me for the better, and to all the moms who are and will be influencing my children for the better.
Utah is a GREAT place to raise a family.

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