Living Simply Builds Community
There is a great article in The Tyee (an independent alternative online newspaper from British Columbia) on the experiences of a couple with children after they decide to go car-less for one year. Most of us in two-parent families have two cars, and have either succumbed to the minivan or are still valiantly resisting. Some of us are getting by with one car. But how many of us would be willing to downsize to NO car at all?
This article lends proof to the fact that one of the main reasons parents have cars, and big ones, is to partake in the culture of 'I'll drive your kids to soccer if you pick mine up'. With no car, this couple was left without the primary currency of parent-bonding. To avoid being ostracized, they had to come up with an equally attractive currency: childcare. They now trade rides in other parents' cars for extra playdates or sleepovers at their house. What they have found is that being without a car gives them lots of face time with their neighbors, their kids' friends, and each other. They walk a lot (great exercise!) and tend to hang out in neighborhood spots rather than go for far-away adventures. This, they say, has led to a greater sense of community and directly combats the urban sprawl most cities have become.
What does this have to do with equally shared parenting? A lot. Equal sharing usually means living simply (unless you are independently wealthy) and this can be a great thing for community building. Amy and I haven't taken the plunge to carless-ness yet, but downsizing to one car has given us a taste of life closer to home. It's a good thing.