Friday Question of the Day Special Edition

Today’s Friday question of the day is submitted by a reader. Elizabeth asks:
“I have a few questions of the day. Recently, I met a neighbor who has spent the last 37 years living on my block, raising children, and working at at least one business in the neighborhood.

She described the block of 37 years ago as being full of children, who were constantly running in and out of various families’ houses, and she said that her children were raised by the entire community.

Today, we have very few children on the block… or maybe they just stay out of sight. I know two boys who ride their big wheels in the alley, but that’s it.

Why are there no more families with young children?”

If you would like to submit a Friday question of the day just email me at [email protected]

18 Comment

  • Well, there were some young children on our block when we moved in, in 1990. They’re grown now.

    There were also a lot of older folks, who had raised their kids. And their kids had moved out, but the parents were still here.

    Cycle of life. As your older neighbors start dying, young families will move in again, and it will all start again.

  • I agree with sfw. I do see a lot of younger children (in strollers for example) and newborns in mt pleasant, but only a few school aged children.

    Its also true that families have moved out of the District because of failing schools or for a larger back yard or safer environment.

    There are local and national trends of young adults who marry later in life and also have their first child later in life. All the while they are moving into cities at a rate that has stabilized some city populations and caused others to rise (like DC).

    Generally, I agree with sfw though… maybe 10 years form now someone will be blogging about how all those kids in strollers turned into those kids playing basketball in the parks or running for class president.

  • I believe that the perception of poor quality school options plays a huge role in how many children you see in a neighborhood. Some suburban counties can’t build schools fast enough; in the District, we’re talking about closing schools down. When the middle class abandons a neighborhood in that way, lots of bad stuff happens.

  • I think there are a fair number of families with children in petworth. There is a petworth parents yahoo group that is quite active. Although it seems more geared for at least one stay at home parent. I have 2 little ones and there is a family of 5 next door — mostly everyone else on our block is of retirement age (or close to it).

  • It’s gentrification. As the young, relatively affluent professionals move in, the property values go up, the property taxes go up, and those with young families move elsewhere instead where its more affordable.

    You’re left with the new young professionals, and the aging empty nesters (or older folks with grown children living with them).

    It just makes sense that if you are replacing households that have kids with couples and singles that don’t, or haven’t yet (and will likely move when they do), you’re not gonna have a ton of big wheels.

    The exception to the rule are the immigrants. If you pay attention, I think you’ll see a lot of salvadoran kids playing in the streets. I do.

  • And: there are less kids per family nowadays anyway. Having 1-2 kids per family as opposed 2-4 makes a difference in any neighborhood.

  • christina – i find the fact that you use the word “perception” in reference to the quality of dc public schools absolutely hilarious. thanks for the laugh on a friday morning

  • So, are you guys saying that the black and white populations of DC would look like the letter ‘B’ or the number ‘8’ with two age peaks (young adults; the elderly), with few <18's, while the immigrant Latino population would look more like a pyramid (lots of <18's, some young adults, rare elderly)?

  • It has got to be a result of the rising price of living in the Pet and honestly, the schools.

    As areas grow and are built out, the families tend to move out, thats just the way it tends to happen.


  • Anonymous — always glad to provide a laugh, but if you re-read what I said, I never made a reference to “DC Public Schools” at all. I said “the perception of poor quality school options.” I think there are several well-regarded charter schools in our area that many families take advantage of. However, there’s a PERCEPTION that education in D.C. is a vast wasteland.

    But on the topic of DCPS: I also try to refrain from bashing things that I don’t really know that much about. I have been to Roosevelt, and I feel pretty comfortable talking about concerns there. But as for the elementary and the middle schools in my area, I don’t have any *direct* knowledge of their educational quality. You do, I guess?

  • You know what, my comment was unnecessarily snippy. I apologize for that, Anonymous. The point I was trying to make was that I intentionally left “DCPS” out of my earlier post because I just hear them endlessly criticized by people who probably don’t know one teacher, or one kid, or who haven’t set one foot inside a school property except to vote, maybe. I know DCPS has problems. I would just love for there to be as much excitement around a good school as there is around Yes! Market or a new bar. That’s just my thing; I shouldn’t have been bitchy about it.

    Back on topic: I don’t know if my neighborhood has a lot of kids or not; I sure do see a lot of them walking to school in the morning, but I live near three schools. But I’m away in the day time when they might be home from school and playing. I also wonder, frankly, if kids play outside as much as they used to. There’s so much engaging stuff to keep them inside — video games, TV…

  • a lot of people move out of the city for the better schools when they have kids…

  • This is a broader comment than just talking about the kids, but there’s a well-known social researcher who has come up with some fascinating data about diverse neighborhoods — basically, that as neighborhoods become more ethnically diverse, people are less likely to trust each other, connect with other people, participate in politics and connect across class lines. It was a very provocative result, and dispiriting in some ways — does this mean that we all really do better with our own “kind?” Anyway, you can read about it more here…

  • Huh, the address cut off. Let’s try again:

  • Why is the value of a neighborhood based on how many kids are running around!? What is wrong with young, single, professionals (ME)…should we not be welcome in neighborhoods??? Honestly, the kids in mt. pleasant are rowdy, loud, and annoying…with the exception of my landlord’s adorable child…but his friends like to constantly come stick their head in my window..NOT COOL. And just b/c you have children doesn’t make you more stable…or a better resident. This is a dumb debate, but it gets my goat every time I read stuff about how “OH NO ALL THESE SINGLE PEOPLE ARE MOVING IN- HARK HARK”…

    whew, I feel better now. Rock on single people with no annoying kids! And Rock on great parents with nice, well behaved, children suitable to be in public. Thanks!

  • I teach at a private school in DC. Most of the kids come from DC & MD. We have a much smaller number coming from VA.

  • Christina,

    I think it is fairly natural (a fact even?) that one does get along better with his/her own kind: family, friends, even cultural background – and this is where it easily becomes blurry/contentious as different cultural background so often also mean different ethnic background – which is a good thing, but can so easily lead to either real racism or perceived racism (i.e. interpreted as such by those observing).

    But, getting a long _better_ with your “own kind”, should not mean we cannot get along _extremely well_ with “other kind” as well.

    Ok, I probably have not thought this through well enough, and as such I probably should not click on “publish your comment” right now.. 🙂 I am off topic and probably infuriating/annoying many with such rambling.. 🙂

  • staci: while i think the original question in the post may have been lamenting the lack of children on the streets, i’m not sure that the “debate” of various comments were. i don’t feel that the intent of any commnenters was to bash single people, i think most were pointing out that there seem to be more of them coming into the city now than there are families.

    as for mt pleasant, kids are kids and i can’t say i’m consistently annoyed at any of them here. there are 4 or 5 schools within or bordering th neighborhood.

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