A few years ago, a new community in Scotland was constructed that prohibits children from living there. Residents are allowed visits from young children and grandchildren, but they are not allowed to stay for more than three weeks. All homeowners must be over age 45.
Such a community definitely appeals to my husband and me. We aren’t ready to buy a house quite yet, but as we begin our preliminary search, we are scoping out neighborhoods that don’t have huge jungle gym contraptions in the backyard or tons of bikes parked in the driveway.
A few summers ago, the family who lived behind us in our townhouse complex had SIX KIDS. Keep in mind, a three bedroom is the biggest townhouse offered, and we don’t exactly have 1000 square feet of living space. I often wondered how all those people crammed into a place that size.
The children, ranging in age from 6 to newborn, were constantly running around outside screaming, with no parents in sight. One little girl in particular had the kind of blood curdling scream that makes your eardrums vibrate and the hair stand up on your arms. Their patio was approximately 20 feet from ours, so it was impossible to get away from them.
Our community is marketed as “luxury townhomes,” with such amenities as fireplaces, big kitchens, and two car garages. Not exactly kid-friendly, but not discouraging either.
Now, mind you, I was writing my first book that summer, and there was no escape from the noise. One day I was taking a break and watching TV, and I heard my one of my cats hiss. I looked up to see four little faces pressed up against my open window screen, taunting my precious little kitty. That was the first – and ONLY – time they have ever hissed at a person.
I told the kids that the “kitty didn’t like that,” and they ran away from me.
Didn’t do a thing for the constant stream of noise.
There was another little girl who lived a few doors down. All I ever saw her do was ride her bike back and forth in front of our house. Hardly ever heard her talk, let alone scream. Aside from making sure she didn’t dart out in front of my moving vehicle, she caused us no grief whatsoever.
The issue here is more about responsible parenting than having kids screaming in your backyard.
When I was 5 years old, my mother, sister and I moved into my grandparents’ house. My mother was separated from my father, and we couldn't afford to live on our own. Although my aunt and uncle were still teenagers at the time, the neighborhood was not what I’d call “child friendly.” Most of the residents were older folks, and my grandparents were not about to be the noisy house on the block, ruining other people’s peaceful summer evenings and Saturday afternoons.
So when my sister and I went out to play, we didn’t act like banshees, running around the yard screaming. Why? Mostly because of my mother’s, grandmother’s, and grandfather’s parenting skills.
They expected us to behave in a certain way, and there were consequences if we did not. Now, obviously I am not a parent, but as a participant in this system of discipline it was very clear to me how I was supposed to act. Maybe I was just a “good kid,” but I sure had a lot of help from “good parenting.” And you know what? I still had a lot of fun growing up, and a very enjoyable childhood.
As far as child free housing goes, I think it should be an option for those who want some peace and quiet in their domestic lives. There are plenty of places to live if you have children. More to choose from, in fact, than if you have two female, de-clawed cats who have done less damage to my apartment than I have.
But I digress.
We should all be able to choose where we want to live, whatever the criteria – a good school district, cheaper property taxes, a safe neighborhood, or a child free community.
Live and let live!