Las Vegas Sun

December 22, 2014

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Letter to the readers:

Raising kids in Las Vegas: Is it beneficial or a bust?

Dear readers:

As I’m writing this, a four-month-old boy is being fussed over in the newsroom, and deservedly so. He’s a cute baby, and as his mother tends to some work, he’s making the rounds through the building with eager surrogates.

There’s something special about babies, and it’s always a joy to have the rhythm of the newsroom interrupted by an infant. A baby’s coo, a gurgle, even a piercing cry is a quick way to refocus on what really matters in life. I didn’t understand that before I became a father and held my own children. I remember my thinking changed. I wondered about the future they would have and how I — and my generation — would shape it.

It wasn’t all that long ago that my children, both born in Las Vegas, were infants. As my wife and I took them around, something curious happen as people fussed over them. After making baby faces and goo-goo noises, some people would turn to me or my wife and ask in a serious tone, “Are you going to raise your child here?”

The word “here” would hang in the air, the obvious implication was that there was a serious problem raising children here. There was always a concern in their voices, as if they wanted to make sure we knew the dangers that no one in their sane mind would raise an innocent in a place like Nevada, much less Sin City.

It didn’t surprise me when people in other states asked the question, given the perception that nothing exists here but the Strip, but it seemed odd when people in Southern Nevada asked. This is the place we call home, and we assumed they did too. And they were telling us to flee and raise children elsewhere?

We haven’t fled. We’re raising our children here. But we’re not naive.

The state has its peculiarities and troubles, and children have temptations that they wouldn’t have elsewhere. But I’ve lived in several states and in cities both small to large, and it seems that children can find trouble anywhere if they look for it.

Still, is it different to raise a child here?

I’ve talked to parents who raised children here as well as people who were brought up here and asked about their experiences. There are good and bad stories. Some people say it’s no different than raising children anywhere else. Others tell of perilous straits.

There have also been some humorous tales that could only have happened in Las Vegas. One man related the story of his high school senior prom. He took his girlfriend to “Jubilee,” thinking she would be impressed. He didn’t know it was a topless show, and she was far from impressed. He ended up walking home.

We’d like to know your thoughts about raising children here. Tell us your story and any advice you’d have to parents raising children here. Did you grow up in Southern Nevada? Would you raise your children here? Have you raised children here? Would you do it again?

You can leave a comment or send your thoughts to: "Growing up" c/o Letters to the editor, Las Vegas Sun, 2360 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074. Or send a letter via email: [email protected]. Or fax: (702) 383-7264. If you send an email, be sure to put “growing up” in the subject line. We’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

Matt

Matt Hufman is the assistant managing editor/opinion. On Twitter follow: @MattattheSun.

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  1. Las Vegas is a wonderful city to raise children. It has everything they need to grow, learn, flourish and be constructive citizens of society. The key to their development is their parents, both mother and father. And how well they do forging a life for their children. By instilling the right priorities in their children for living productive lives.

    Carmine A. DiFazio

  2. CNN did a study last year and named the top 10 most livable cities in the country. Here's how Las Vegas stacks up: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/...

    The statistics speak for themselves.

  3. Here? Or there? Make no difference. Where you raise your children is irrelevant. It's the parenting that counts.

  4. The problem a family faces in raising kids in Las Vegas isn't that kids find unusual temptations here but rather that the parents are constantly bombarded with temptations they wouldn't be overwhelmed with elsewhere.

  5. Nice article, Matt. I've had the same issues/concerns about raising my kids here. I know everyone likes to say that it completely depends on the parents, and while I agree that they're the most important component, it's tough when parents have the community working against them. I understand that, as an adult tourist town, we are going to have the nightclubs/strip clubs/etc., but we need to do a better job of keeping that world separate from the local community. I'd like to see the papers and local news focus more on community related issues, and less on which Jersey Shore cast member showed up at the hotel pools over the weekend.

    Based on my understanding, this town has always attracted the immediate gratification, and get rich quick/easy crowd. Even though materialism exists everywhere, it's so in-your-face and accepted/encouraged here. The night club host or stripper that makes good money gets more respect than the physicist or doctor that's breaking new ground, but isn't worth millions. That's a huge problem, in my opinion. I hate to beat a dead horse, but our screwed up priorities are extremely evident when we look at our schools. I don't understand how being ranked last in the country isn't the most embarrassing statistic we could possibly have. I don't see how the community doesn't come together to fix that. Instead, we have administrators pointing at teachers, teachers pointing at parents, and parent pointing at the entire school system. So we chase our tails arguing about who is to blame, and meanwhile, nothing gets done.

    Another HUGE problem is the accepted political corruption in this state. Everyone from Harry Reid to Sandoval. They're all on the take from the lobbyists, and they don't even attempt to hide it. When the primary goal of our local politicians is the special interest groups, the community suffers.

    I have to say... As a parent, I catch myself focusing on the negative, and ignoring that there are pockets of good people here. Hard working people that really care about their families and the community. We just need more of those people, and fewer transient people coming here to make a quick buck and leave. There also seems to be a small push to improve the quality of the community. The Smith Center, the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, the Lied Discovery Museum, Springs Preserve, etc. Those are things that are making it better for parents, in my opinion.

    Sorry for the long post. This is an extremely important issue to me.

  6. Money magazine is no predicter of winners. A few of years ago, MM's special annual edition predicted Global Crossing was one of the hottest stocks for the coming year. Within 3 months GC went belly up and the stockholders lost their shirts. The company went bankrupt.

    Carmine A. DiFazio

  7. Interesting thoughts throughout the threat.

    I agree that parenting is critical as FreedomRadio (Joan Respondi) points out. As sebring (Sebring Frehner)notes, there are pressures on parents here they might not have faced elsewhere. Especially if they left family behind to move here and find
    themselves without the support of friends or family.

    improveLV, you've made some very good points. To comment on one: It is very easy to get sucked into the negative. The negative rankings seem to have become white noise, I think, with the number of them. "Oh, look, Nevada/Las Vegas is on another 'bad' list." It doesn't seem to raise an eyebrow. Of course, some of those lists are dubious and justifiably ignored, and that doesn't help, but at some point you'd think it would become an embarrassment.

    matt

  8. Sorry: Should be *thread* not threat in first line.

  9. If you are parents of children growing up in Las vegas. You should not have a concern for their success in becoming responsible adults.Most young people do see and hear about things that take place in our city that they might not hear or see elsewhere. This is a part of growing up in Las Vegas and helps them when choosing a path to follow in planning their lives.Education can be had from watching and abserving others as well as finishing school, with a strong family behind them .