Summertime: Do fences really make good neighbors?

by EPI Staff on April 28, 2009

Q: We recently set up a playhouse in our backyard for our 2-year-old, and our neighbor and her child sometimes come over to play in it too. However, they’ve started using it when we’re not home. How can I set some boundaries?

A: Talk to your neighbor. Be clear, not bossy: “We love having you and Sammy visit and use the playhouse, but we really do have to ask that you – and anyone else – only use it when we are home. Please check with us first. I’m sure you understand the risk factor.” If this neighbor is someone you’re friendly with or would like to know better, you could go a step further and invite her and her child over for some play dates. You might also put up a little sign (for all in the neighborhood) that reads: “Please check with the Smiths before using the playhouse.” It’s your property, so it’s reasonable for you to be cautious.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda May 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm

On a similar note–Our neighbors daughter spends many days at our house, just hanging out with our daughter–both are 12. Your post reminded me of this one day when the girls were in the pool. I was in the kitchen (many windows, close to the pool). The neighbor childs’ mother walks into the yard with her younger child…then 2 women and 3 more kids…within 10 minutes they were all in the pool! I later asked mine if she invited to swim–she said no…They knew I was home, my car was there…I wonder what goes on when we’re out!

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Graceandhonor June 30, 2009 at 8:13 am

This is worrisome, not only for the assumptions your neighbors et al make, but because of the liability you face. It is time to invest in gate locks and signage, “Please, NO entrance without invitation.” This conveys a command whereas, “Please do not enter without invitation” will lead to someone to assuming it doesn’t apply to them. IF the problem persists, its time for a talk, “I am sorry we cannot allow anyone to use our pool without our permission.”

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