I moved my kids out of America. It was the best #parenting decision I’ve ever made.
When we landed in this little equatorial nation, the culture shock was intense. Aside from the daunting language barrier, nothing in this part of the #world runs on schedule, so we constantly showed up hours early for events and just had to wait around. Or we found they would be held at some undetermined future time. For a punctual, time-conscious person like me, this ramped up my anxiety to new levels.
Well, we were thinking a lot of things, and taking a number of factors into consideration. In America, it seemed every third child was taking pharmaceuticals to treat behavioral issues, anxiety, or depression. High school students were unloading automatic weapons into their classmates. Opioid use was reaching all new highs. Bank executives were defrauding their customers and Wall Street was walking an increasingly thin tight rope. It felt like The American Dream as we knew it was all but gone, having transformed into a shadowy unknown. We fretted about what the future would hold for our #family. We thought maybe, just maybe, a simpler lifestyle somewhere else was the answer. And so, in 2011, our family walked up to the edge of the unknown, took a deep breath, and jumped.
Some of our friends turned on us, calling us terrible parents, or saying we were unpatriotic. Why would we want to leave the land of the free and the home of the brave? And where was Ecuador, anyway? Somewhere near Mexico? Africa? We were taking our #children to a country that most Americans can’t even point to on a map. What were we thinking?
The decision he was referring to was the radical idea that my husband and I had settled on. We were moving, along with our two young sons — at age 7 and 9 — from small town U.S.A. to a modest mountain village in Ecuador. Steve wasn’t the only one with concerns. My brother, who normally lauded my parenting choices, was ominously silent on this one, afraid that talking about it would make it real, give it life and validation.
“I really wish you’d reconsider your decision,” my neighbor Steve said. He strode over, hands on hips, and added, “I hear it’s dangerous down there. I’m really worried about your kids.”