Living in our neighborhood comes with a lot of wonderful aspects – the people, the culture, the closeness of friends, etc. Living here also comes with challenges. These challenges become a lot more intense once one has a child. I remember when I was expecting Esteban one of the girls I mentor said, “You guys aren’t staying here once the baby comes, right? I mean, why would you want to stay??” A lot of people who live here have the goal to get out of the neighborhood, if they or their children are able to move to away they have “made it.” To purposefully stay when we are able to leave seems strange to some. Today I met a woman, a neighbor of mine, we spoke about children and raising them in our neighborhood. She has three kids, all in college now, all are doing well and love the neighborhood as well as where they’re at for school. We talked about how difficult it is to find good schools around here and the challenges of where the kids play outside, the battle to want to give your child freedom to explore and be on their own but also to protect them and keep them safe. The woman reminded me that while the struggles around here are hard, there are troubles everywhere. She told me about when her daughter was in high school, she was a part of an honors program at a school in a wealthy area of the city. She would come home and mention how many issues she saw every day among her classmates – things were not so much better just because she was in a “better area.” Earlier this week I sifted through my struggles and fears with raising kids in this neighborhood. Well, I often sift through my fears and struggles, but this past week they’ve been especially present on my mind. I want our children to be friends with and a part of the neighborhood, not just living here and going outside of the neighborhood for everything. However, I don’t want my children exposed or pulled into all the awful things that also a part of our neighborhood. Towards the end of last year, a fifteen-year-old was stabbed in the neck and dumped into a trashcan in an alley, specifically because he told the group of guys hassling him that he didn’t want to join the gang they were in. My heart aches when I think of that story. The kid had been bothered for a while by these guys to join and then that happened. With a little baby boy, I just want to keep him inside and never have to face all of that. I wrestle with loving the young men in the gangs, the young men my husband works with everyday, knowing they do things like this. They are human beings, were once little boys just looking to be cared for, but also are murderers and are also murdered. When I think of these things happening I wonder where my son will fit in with everything one day and how he will process things…how do I help him to process these things? Talking with the woman today though helped me to hear stories of other kids who are doing well, who enjoyed living in our neighborhood and still call it their home. She and her husband still live here. If Epi and I are called to be in this neighborhood, which I believe we are currently, we need to trust that God has equipped our children to also live in this place. He knew what he was doing when he gave us Esteban, and it wasn’t an accident his parents live in a sometimes scary neighborhood. The work lies in trusting Him who is greater, with my son, and following His leading.
Raising Children Here.