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Am I being a bad parent... by arguing with the noisy neighbours?

One reader is wondering if she’s setting a bad example by confronting the folks next door.

Image: Shutterstock/Serg Zastavkin

TEACHING YOUR KIDS manners is relatively simple, but teaching them the ins and outs of healthy, open interactions with other people is a little more complex.

Especially if those ‘other people’ are your cranky, noisy next-door neighbours.

Each week in our series, Am I Being A Bad Parent?, we hear from a reader who can’t figure out what to do about a tricky parenting situation. To get a balanced view, we put the dilemma to a group of Irish parents, keeping things anonymous to encourage honest answers. 

This week, one parent is wondering if she should confront her neighbours about their excess noise levels (again), or if it’s best to say nothing and avoid conflict.

Have a parenting question you’d like some other mums and dads to weigh in on? Let us know anonymously here!

This week’s dilemma

Our neighbours have a load of very noisy yappy dogs which they let out first thing at 6am in the morning and last out at 11pm. Needless to say, they wake up our kids. I want to approach them about it, but I already know it’s going to turn into an argument because they’re not the approachable type (recently they were drilling into the wall that adjoins our toddler’s bedroom around 8:30pm and our child woke up freaked – but when we went in to ask if they could stop or give us a heads up, they got really arsey). I try to teach my kids good manners and getting into a negative exchange with the neighbours goes against that. Am I being unreasonable to risk conflict by confronting them about the dogs issue?

Our anonymous readers’ responses

You’re absolutely not being unreasonable. But even if your neighbours were the approachable type it’d be hard to find  a solution because dogs need to be let out first and last thing so they can go to the loo. If they’re little yappy dogs then they’re going to yap, no matter what.  What about asking the neighbours to let them out a little later in the morning and a little earlier at night? So the approach is “Look, I know we have to expect a certain amount of noise but our little kids are sleeping at those times, any chance we could adjust the dog’s schedule a bit?”

I think you’re being a bit unreasonable. After all, as the owner of small kids, living in a house with a party wall, you will probably be the cause of a certain number of nighttime wakeups for your neighbours too. But perhaps that could be an opening to talking this through with them. I’d suggest possibly approaching the neighbours under the guise of making sure that your kids aren’t disturbing them, and using this as a way to bring up the dogs issue. It’s worth a try.

You are not being unreasonable to want to sort out this issue with your neighbours. If your children are old enough to understand what’s going on, it would be a good example to them to see you deal with the situation. Being proactive, communicating with the neighbours despite the difficulties, solving a problem (hopefully!) and looking after your family’s needs are all good examples of how to be a parent/family/grown up. There is a difference between teaching your children good manners and teaching them not to allow others to walk all over them.

So what’s the final tally? Is this reader being unreasonable? 

No – 2

Yes – 1

Have a parenting question you want answered? Let us know anonymously in our survey here and we’ll put it to the real-life experts: your fellow mums and dads.

Want to win a hamper of brain-boosting goodies for your little one? Enter our Cognikids competition here – and don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly Family Newsletter below this article!

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