"Is Amsterdam Bad?" (Updated)

That is the question my ten year-old son asked on our way into the city from our long weekend getaway.
I want to point out a simple truth: kids tend to frame questions based upon what they hear around them. And kids tune in way more than adults realize. So think of the myriad of adult conversations throughout the city and its environs on the city and pause to reflect upon how that gets processed by a kid. Is it any wonder the question gets asked.
So my question to you is: how should I have answered?
Update: Here is a summary of my answer:
Well, there are some bad things– crime, bad people , bullies, run down buildings– and there are some good things — your friends, your family, the parks, baseball diamonds. Every place has some good and bad and the reason you may have heard Amsterdam is bad is that the city used to be better a long time ago. But things change and now it’s difficult for Amsterdam to be what it once was. A lot of people try and want the city to be better but some people don’t want to change so it just takes a long time to make it better.
Amsterdam’s not perfect but it’s not totally bad either; it’s good, bad and in-between just like everywhere else.

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3 Responses

  1. Tim Becker says:

    If my son had asked that, I would have said no, it’s not a bad city. There are plenty of bad aspects about Amsterdam, but there are also enough good things, more importantly good people – who live here that make it worth living in and working for.

  2. I would have answered, “no.” I would have pointed out that sometimes people complain about where they live, or their school, or the price of food, or even their friends. But I also would have pointed out that we frequently miss what we should be grateful for in our everyday lives… our unique homes, beautiful parks, historic river, safe neighborhoods, and great friends. I’d have asked him to point out some of the things he values. You may be surprised.
    I’d then look at myself. What is it that I convey about my city? As you know, I believe it is my responsibility to change what I may to make this place better. It begins with me.
    “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

  3. robert purtell says:

    I would have said: Son Amsterdam is not a bad place,be very careful how you listen to people and digest what they say. People sometimes are unsatisfied with their lives and don’t look any further than they can see. There is a big world out there and many areas not as nice as Amsterdam.
    Then I would take him to see the Yankees and drive very slowly through the Bronx.

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