For a year and a half, my wife, son and I lived in North Carolina. It was fun while it lasted but it didn’t, so we moved back to Brooklyn two years ago.
I guess, despite being a Red Sox fan, I’m a Yankee at my core. But, more importantly, Mom and Buried and I are city folk, and Raleigh just didn’t satisfy that part of us. So we’ve come to the end of the (tobacco) road.
Before we moved to Raleigh, I was worried about culture clash. Although North Carolina isn’t exactly the Deep South, it’s south enough for someone who had previously spent his entire life in the cozy confines of the Northeast corridor. Turns out that I was worried about the wrong stuff.
Raleigh is a “city,” but it isn’t a particularly centralized one. The so-called downtown is spread over several separate areas and, as a result, it isn’t much of an actual downtown. The walkability factor is low, and after close to a decade of living without a car, it wasn’t a lot of fun suddenly having to drive everywhere. To the grocery store, to the pharmacy, to the library, to daycare, to restaurants, to the wine store, to the beer store, to bars … everywhere.
Despite my concerns, the culture wasn’t really an issue. The Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) is a pretty liberal area, with a lot of like-minded people, and a lot of transplants from the Northeast. It even has its own hipsters! It wasn’t the southern-ness of the area that ended up being the problem; it was the suburban-ness.
That said, there were some differences between the parenting styles in North Carolina and Brooklyn, and I put together a little list of them.
Styles of Parenting: North vs. South
- In North Carolina, your kid comes home from preschool singing “Jesus Loves Me.” In Brooklyn, your kid comes home from preschool with a hipster friend whose actual name is Jesus.
- In North Carolina, kids grow up loving college sports. In Brooklyn, kids grow up sporting popped collars. (BUT NOT MY KID.)
- In North Carolina, children love tractors and farms. In Brooklyn, the only “farm” they’ve ever seen is “farm-to-table.”
- In Brooklyn, when children wear camouflage clothing, they’re being ironic. In North Carolina, when children wear camouflage clothing, they’re hunting or fishing or going to the store or chilling on the porch or sleeping or doing anything. Southerners love them some camo.
- In Brooklyn, most people have no car. In North Carolina, most people watch NASCAR.
- Both places: Children wear bow-ties.
- In North Carolina, children have their own closets. In Brooklyn, children sleep in rooms that are the size of a closet.
- In North Carolina, everyone knows someone who owns a smoker. In Brooklyn, everyone knows someone who smokes a pipe.
- In North Carolina, you drink moonshine. In Brooklyn, you’re lucky if you can see the moon what with all the city lights.
- Both places: the locals’ accents make them sound stupid. Of course, in Brooklyn, there are hardly any locals left.
- In North Carolina, you’d sell your soul for a half-decent slice of pizza. In Brooklyn, you literally have to sell your soul to afford a half-decent slice of real estate.
- In North Carolina there are a lot of rednecks. In Brooklyn people drink PBR and MGD all the time so WHO’S THE REDNECK NOW?!
- In North Carolina, if you bring a baby into a bar, they quote Sweet Home Alabama at you and then get really uncomfortable. In Brooklyn, if you bring a baby into a bar, it’s Saturday.
I won’t pretend that I didn’t initially have some concerns about raising my son in the South, but now that I’ve actually lived there (albeit briefly), those concerns seems silly. It’s more clear to me than ever that the parenting styles are not a North vs. South thing because where you raise your kids makes a lot less difference than how you raise them. Good parents are good parents, no matter what part of the country they’re in. Except Texas, obviously.
If my time in North Carolina taught me one thing, it’s that, like Axl said, we don’t need no civil war. Certainly not when both regions have such great beer.
A version of this first ran on Dad and Buried.