For my entire life I’ve been told I don’t sound like I hail from the south. I used to take this sentiment as a compliment. If we are being honest, the media does not highlight the south in the best of lights. The south is often depicted as the land of severely conservative, backwoods folks, who all live on farms and raise 42 cows. I personally have never self-identified as this dramatized version of a southern, so when folks assumed I was from New England, I didn’t necessarily correct them.
As I’ve gotten older, I have realized the beauty of living in the south and have embraced my sweet tea roots, especially as the mother of two young boys. That’s right; this liberal mama loves raising her ginger babes in the Tar Heel state.
Here are four reasons why raising your kids in the south is a beautiful thing:
- Manners make the man – We can all agree manners are a must. I was raised to say, “yes ma’am/sir,” “no ma’am/sir,” please and thank you, etc. Having manners is not only polite, but they leave a positive and lasting impression. You’ll stand out in the crowd in the best way. To be in the south without manners is a sin (we are on the bible belt of course). If one forgets the proper greeting or response, there is a southern mama always there to glare the most intense evil eye in your direction. We learn very quickly to keep our manners in check.
- Wild child – Being in nature is something a southerner is born to do (well, most of us). I remember playing in the neighborhood creek, climbing trees, and venturing into the woods for an “adventure.” My boys LOVE to play outside. My oldest is a master bug hunter and collector of dirt. While I’m not a huge fan of the creepy crawlers, he has zero fear when it comes to facing a spider or earth worm; he wants to be their friend. He feels comfortable outside and that makes my tree-hugger heart happy.
- We’ve got spirit, yes, we do – College basketball…what more can I say? When you live in the south you are born on a side, the side of an ACC team. In North Carolina the trinity of college basketball falls within three points – UNC Tarheels, Duke Blue Devils, and NC State Wolfpack. We clearly bleed Carolina blue and cheer on our beloved Tar Heels to victory. This inherent need to be tethered to a team builds a sense of pride and commitment in an individual.
- Family values (the good ones) – This can be said for anybody, anywhere, but family values are so important in the south. Now, I don’t think all “family values” are, well, valuable, but I do think finding those naturally good qualities are important. We can learn a lot from of our family. My family has always projected strong social values like respect/courtesy, giving back, kindness, standing up for others, etc. I want and will carry these values into the lives of my children.
As someone who was born and raised in the south, I’ve worked my entire life to eliminate that stereotypical view of a southerner from my own mind. There is so much beauty to be found down south when raising children to be fully functioning and well-adjusted individuals. We are a wonderfully complex breed.
“Southerners know all too well that a basket of fried chicken can mean ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘I love you’ or ‘Welcome Home.’” (Johnathan Scott Barrett)