As I weigh the pluses and minuses of relocating with my family from a big city to a tropical island I can't help but wonder what life is like for teenagers on the islands. By the time we'd move there, if I can get them on board (I know, PMV), the kids would be +/-16 & 14. I'm guessing it might be more like suburban living, having to drive them around etc. Are there sports leagues? Does most of the "hanging out" happen at friend's homes and the beach?
No rose colored glasses here. Please give me the good and the bad. I know teens, or anyone for that matter, looking for trouble can find it, but are there major issues with teen drug use? Teen pregnancy?
Any parents out there willing to share some details about a day in the life of their teen(s) aside from school?
Which island? That makes a big difference. It also depends on the kid. Some kids love it here, others hate it. There are things to do, but the organized activities available don't always appeal to everyone. There are a lot of terrific young people on all the islands, but we also have one of the largest, if not largest, number of detached youth (16-22 year olds not in school and don't have a job) in the US. You can look at the most recent 'Kids Count' report to get an idea of the challenges our youth has. The report was released in 2010, but the figures are from 2007... here is a link: Kids Count It's not the most encouraging report...but like I said, there are a lot of terrific young people here.
We had all the same good questions and concerns. Our daughter loves it here now. She was shy but is now more outgoing because of life here. Lots to do if you like the ocean. Much easier to get part-time jobs than in the states. Plenty of good kids on island who stay out of trouble. Good small private schools here on Stx where they see and care about your kid. But if your kid wants to find trouble they can.
Feel free to PM me.
Thanks for the responses. I appreciate the candor, although I am not sure what problem Molly has with our wanting honest feedback without a sugar coating. Teenage years are difficult no matter where one is, my hope is to be as informed as possible about the good and bad things they might encounter.
We'd be coming from NYC, so the kids have more street sense than most-meaning they are aware of their surroundings, the people around them, and recognizing and moving away from "trouble." However, given the pervasiveness of drug use, and other bad behaviors by teens in many rural/suburban areas of our country- things that seem to go unnoticed until 20/20 does a story on "the growing problem of..."- I want to minimize the possibility of surprises.
On a typical school day the kids are up and out to school. After which they come home and do homework, play video games, facebook, or hang out with friends. Weekends usually consist of soccer (in season), maybe a movie, some shopping/hanging out with friends. Little they do is specific to NYC except maybe the independence they have in getting around. They can walk or take a bus almost anywhere they want to go on their own.
We are leaning toward St. Croix, but St.Thomas is not out of the question. Much will depend on the PMV.
We do have some wonderful kids here of all ages.
But we also have lots of troubled kids. Wow, stjohnjulie. Thanks for the link, pretty sobering.
So what do we do to help our troubled youth? I agree with the article that we need to start young. I have interacted with three and four year olds who seem more like one or two year olds in terms of skills, speech, etc. Often these deficits get even larger as children grow older. It is pretty painful to observe, as it is a global world, and even here (maybe especially here) it takes good skills to be successful. I think that intensive, intensive intervention is needed....
Couple of points (on STX)...
The legal drinking age is 18, and I've never seen a bar or restaurant card.
Soccer here is year-round.
No real malls, so shopping isn't much of an option.
Walking or taking a bus isn't really viable, either.
Not trying to discourage -- just things to consider. For me and my kids personally, I would wait until after graduation to make the move. High school is hard enough without moving that far away from all your friends. Mine were young enough and used to moving for it not to be much of an issue. Good luck!
This is (as usual when it comes to our kids) an important discussion for many people. Thank you "POPFLOPS" for your comments. I remember when you were just considering a move and later trying to sell your overstocked sandals. You have been very generous in sharing your moving and resettling experiences. New movers should listen to you very carefully. I hope that you stay and find a real future on the island. Happy New Years ...
Thanks again P-flops. Waiting too is a possibility, but may need to relocate anyway. So many uncertainties... I was not a boyscout, but I appreciate the motto: Be prepared.
My kids have changed schools a time or two, and initially there was some anxiety about leaving friends as we expected. Fortunately they're nice people, and make friends easily. In any case, it is not something we would put on them unnecessarily, or if we didn't believe we were doing what is best for our family.
No malls in Manhattan to speak of. Also, not sure it would be a bad thing to replace strolling through Urban Outfitters and American Apparel three times per week with surfing or sea kayaking. 😉
Just out of curiosity, is there much skateboarding on the island? Is there a skate park?
A few kids at Country Day school built a small half pipe, but it's far from a park.
Skateboarding is limited to newly paved parking lots and/or neighborhoods.
The roads are no good, as there's no shoulder and they're in horrible condition.
There was one surf/skate shop in town but it folded not too long ago, if that tells you anything.
I do not have information regarding a teenager's experiences there however, my husband and I plan to move there with a 16 year old and a 10 month old. Although we know there will be adjustments etc... I believe trouble can be found anywhere if you are looking. Do I think my child is perfect? Not in the least but, I know that I have raised him right and trust him to do the right thing. I admit there is a little apprehension but, doesn't that come with territory of being a parent to a teen anyway? My two cent's worth.
Which island does everyone think is the best to raise kids on. Past experiences, news stories and so on?
I don't think "which island" matters as much as YOUR parenting will matter and what kind of kid you already have -regarding how things turn out.
One of the interesting things about living on a small island is that IF you make friends and get to know the teachers at your school, you will have eyeballs all over the place. Kindof like a small town in that regard.
One essential: they need to enjoy the water and beach. If they don't, or don't develop a love for it, they will be missing out on some great experiences.
One of the big enticements to our kids/family was the commitment to getting scuba certified. It's a great activity for parent-teen time.
One other nice thing about living here: plenty of part-time jobs for stateside teens.
I have a teenage daughter and she had a really hard time adjusting our first year here. Probably the hardest part of our whole move. My 10 yr old did just fine. Even with going to a very expensive private school, and living in a nice place with pool and all. Big challenge is missing friends and being 2000 miles & $1000 plane ticket away from home. Not feasible to visit often. Life is different, not bad, just different for a teen used to growing up in the States. NY may not have a "mall", but there is shopping everywhere and everything is easy to get to through mass transit. Not the case here. She has adjusted, made great friends, but friends come and go here. That's another hard part. Think long and hard, do a pre move visit, check out schools while they are in session etc.
I'm from here (STX), graduated from Central high school, went to college, Air Force and moved back almost 3 years ago....My children LOVE it here...they are both in public school Complex and Pearl B...doing GREAT...no problems no issues no drama...My daughter is 14 and in the magnet program...my son is 10. They never want to move back to the states. So here is an almost 3 year testament of stateside children in our public schools. There are some public schools that should be avoided but as far as the idea if you can't afford private school dont move down....don't believe the hype...talk to a local
Thanks everyone for your responses-interesting and thoughtful information (and opinions *-)). While I'd expect us all to have some anxiety about being far from friends and family, we're all "beachy" so I don't think it would take long to make friends and fall into the island lifestyle. As I said in the original post "I know teens, or anyone for that matter, looking for trouble can find it." My concern isn't the character or propensities of my kids, I just wanted to see if there were any unknown "landmines" that are not readily visible to an outsider coming in.
Of course much will be gleaned from a PMV, and talking with locals and other transplants. For instance, before reading about the magnet school I thought private school was a given but...
Believe it or not, the hardest thing about getting the family down there for the PMV might be convincing them to give up a month or two at our beach club during the summer.
BTW: I'm still interested in reading about other experiences of transplanted families with teens-particularly any that moved from a big city.
Peace & thanks again.
Scroll up to the top of the screen -- Put your cursor over the move and then click what to expect. Many move stories in there about people with kids. These are just stories about how to get your stuff here, some are, but what people experiences where.
You will hear people on this board tell you again and again, because it's true. Read this board like it's a book and you will find information you want and information you didn't know to ask. It is ABSOLUTELY your best resource for the move. So many threads here about moving here with a family.
Things don't change here like they do stateside, so almost all the info you find about day to day stuff is still accurate. All that changes is who owns the store and what's it is called. And even then our new Thai Restaurant on stx after two years is still often called the old Pizza Hut for direction purposes.
IMO private school is a must.
I have a friend that moved to STT with a teenager-18, and hated it. Couldn't wait to get off island and go to college. The teen did come down with a very negative attitude though & did not do anything that the island had to offer. 🙁
The teen went to Charlotte Amalie HS and had no problems(last quarter). Maybe because the teen was bi-racial. Actually an advanced math course the teen was in, the teen was far behind from a very good state-side school and was going to fail it and had to drop that course. The teen graduated with honors and was accepted by very good colleges/universities. One plus for public schools on island.(tu)
The teen has never returned to the island, even for a visit. 🙁 (There is much more to the story, but it is too long)
I will be moving to the Island as well with 3 kids (one 14 y/o) so I am glad to see this posted. Unfortunately we do not have a choice about moving since my job is moving me here but we have lived in many places (I am originally from Los Angeles, CA currently in the military) and I try to make each experience an adventure and an opportunity to learn and make friends. So I will be looking for any and all opportunities to do just that for my kids if anyone has any suggestions. 🙂 also we are all water fanatics, love the beach!