The best way to raise your kids with old-fashioned American values might be to move to another country.
Mother and writer Wendy DeChambeau discovered that intriguing paradox when she, her husband and two sons moved to the South American nation of Ecuador.
“I moved my kids out of America,” DeChambeau wrote in a feature for The Week. “It was the best parenting decision I’ve ever made.”
Back in 2011, DeChambeau and her family traded their home in small town USA for life in a modest mountain village in Ecuador. Her sons were seven and nine, and she noticed some interesting effects after living in the developing nation for a few years. For one, there is a refreshing lack of materialism in Ecuador.
“Though we live comfortably here in Ecuador, my sons are surrounded by families that work hard and live simply,” DeChambeau wrote. “There is no internet shopping. There are no big box stores stuffed to the brim with the latest useless merchandise. And Christmas in these parts is about church and family, not piles of presents and deepening debt.
“While they’re still kids with wants and desires, runaway consumerism and material greed has passed right by my boys,” DeChambeau wrote. “When they do want something special, they’re willing to work for it — like when my oldest son baked and sold cupcakes to earn money for that electric piano keyboard he had been eyeing.”
True Adventure in Ecuador
Ecuador is a Spanish-speaking nation with an average income of just $11,000 a year, according to The CIA World Fact Book. Despite that, DeChambeau loves it there and thinks the country is great for her sons.
“Theme parks and big animal attractions just aren’t a thing here, so my kids have never seen Shamu or visited the fairy tale castles of Disneyland,” DeChambeau reported. “While some might say my children have been denied a crucial childhood experience, I would argue the opposite.
“They’ve never set foot in an adrenaline-inducing water park, but they have snorkeled with sea lions, penguins and sea turtles,” she observed. “They may not have access to larger-than-life, man-made attractions, but they have a world of true adventure at their fingertips.”
The boys also have learned important virtues like patience and hard work.
“Living in a country where instant gratification is a laughable concept, you learn to develop some mad waiting skills,” she wrote. “When my youngest found that his 11th birthday present was going to arrive two weeks late, he took it in stride. ‘That’s okay, mom, we’ll celebrate my birthday when it gets here.’ I know that if this had happened to me, my 11-year-old self would have collapsed into tears.”
When her sons return to the U.S., she said, they’ll “have a leg up.”
“In a world where the up-and-coming generation is castigated for their feelings of entitlement and inability to handle disappointment, my sons have no notions of being owed a thing,” she wrote.
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