Overbearing Neighbors and How to Deal

Updated on September 23, 2019
M.D. asks from Jamaica, NY
17 answers

A helpful but pushy teenager is always finding excuses to come to our house almost daily to play with our small children. This has been going on for a long time but no hints are ever taken and despite my best efforts of trying to set boundaries it has yet to happen as they are not respected. I'm kind of at a loss and not sure how to continue dealing with this. What is "I'm just stopping by to say hello turns into several hours and I just dont like it". I've spoken to a few close friends about it but whatever has been suggested does not help. Advice?

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So What Happened?

There is nothing creepy the family is well known by us and baby sits for us from time to time. Once or twice a week to say hello, fine. It's the everyday stuff that's too much for me.

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answers from Norfolk on

I think you need to be less subtle.
You still want her as a baby sitter, right?
So you need to keep things polite.
You answer the door and say "Hello. It's good to see you but we're busy today and are not having any visitors. I'll talk to you next week.".
Or "Hi. We've got company today. Hope you have a great day. Bye!".

If she's a great baby sitter - tell people - so they can keep her busy by hiring her.
It's clear this teen has too much time on her hands.
Tell her parents you like her but you are worried that she's not spending enough time with friends her own age.

Is there any possibility something nasty is going on in her home that she's trying to escape from?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

You need to step up and say NO and mean it. When he/she comes to the door? You need stop being a door mat.

I would be TOTALLY concerned that a teenager wants to come and play with my kids. I would never, ever let him/her alone with my kids. Sorry. Sounds fishy to me.

Say NO and mean it. If you can't do this then be prepared to be a door mat.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Denver on

We had a neighborhood kid once who showed up constantly. He wasn't a pleasant or polite boy, but he was desperate for some kind of normal, which definitely did NOT exist in his own home. My daughter went inside his house once when his mom was home and not drunk, and she told me that there wasn't anything except beer in their fridge. So I started turning him away but with a snack, a leftover meal on a paper plate, or a cookie. I'd just say "hey, now's not a good time but I happen to have a leftover plate of spaghetti [or a brownie, or a nice fresh apple] so would you like to take that with you?

In other words, try to find out what your pushy teenage neighbor needs. Ask her things like "so what's going on at your house today?" or "what's for supper at your house?" while you're prepping your family's dinner. Ask her about school, if she's in any activities, or if she's done her homework. Try to figure out why a teenager comes over to play with your kids. If she's simply bored at her house, and it's nothing more, suggest some other ways she could get jobs in the neighborhood, like dog walking, or lawn cleanup. If there's no supper and she's on her own as far as food goes, consider handing her a healthy snack as you tell her that it's not a good time to play, and goodbye. If she's lonely, and has no friends of her own, suggest school clubs - you don't have to be her social buddy. And if she is just so immature that she likes playing with your kids' toys, then just be firm. Maybe put a signal in your window telling her she may knock or not (a red paper square means no, a green one means yes).

Keep the boundaries clear: consider telling her "no thanks, I don't need a babysitter today", thus communicating that she is your babysitter, not your kids' playmate.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

When subtly doesn’t work, be clear and direct.

Today doesn’t work (if it doesn’t), how about tomorrow from 1-2 (or whatever works for you). ~or~

Yes, you may come over until 3 today.....oh look, it’s 3, let me walk you to the door. ~or~

How about if we just do visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It’s unclear why a teenager would want to be ‘pushy’ and play with younger children. But clear, direct and firm communication is always a good way to convey expected behavior and boundaries where there is confusion.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

why is a teenager coming over to talk with young children? Is he/she developmentally delayed?

Don't answer the door.
Tell him/her you don't have time right now.
talk with his/her parent(s) and let them know their child isn't respecting your wishes.

As long as you open the door and let them in? You are moving the boundary lines. DO NOT open the door. Or open the door and say NO. Not right now and close the door,

I would not allow this teenager alone with my children. Sorry.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

You say, "Hi (insert name)! Today is not a good day. We have plans. Have a nice day!" Close the door.

If you are feeling awkward about doing this, you'll give time for your statement to be challenged, and that may happen the first few times you try this. In that case, you just repeat the above while saying, "I have to go now" and close the door. With practice, it will become easier. You may even want to practice on your own, ahead of time, so you are used to saying these words aloud.

Personally, I would not allow anyone to intrude on my family's space and time, and I'd be watchful of anyone other than an a same-age peer wanting to play with my small children on an "almost daily" basis.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When she comes to the door just let her know it's not a good time. You aren't obligated to let her in every time she comes over. If she asks can I come later or tomorrow just say " I don't know I'll give you a call when it's a good time." If you keep turning her away she'll get the hint eventually.
It's a little sad though, I wonder if she's lonely or having trouble at home? Not that it's your job to entertain her of course.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I’m wondering what is going on in her own home. Perhaps she feels safer at your house.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

if you're only dropping hints, you're not actually setting boundaries. you set boundaries by being clear (and hopefully courteous.)

the teenager is not an adult. would you expect your own children to pick up on 'hints' from an adult, or would you prefer the adult tell your children clearly what's expected of them?

how about something like 'darren, how nice to see you again! but we're not in need of any help today. i have a ton of baking to do on thursday and could use your assistance in keeping the kids occupied for an hour or two when you get out of school. i'll text you in the morning to confirm.' or simply, 'hi darren, i'm afraid we're not having any visitors today. have a great day! and i love that shirt, you big goof.'

not only will you make things clear and help the teenager understand (and not have to try and interpret your hints) but you'll teach your own children how to communicate clearly and effectively.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I was actually that kid when I was a preteen. Now, I feel so guilty that I did that. They are still neighbors of my parents still living there. I reminded my Mom once that if she talks to her, please tell her I am sorry for being that annoying kid. I realized how annoying it must have been once I had my daughter and we had twins who were 11 living next door. They came EVERYDAY. The Mom also loved talking to my husband, so I was heavily annoyed. I’d get home from work and all 3 were on my driveway every day. Weekends, the kids would just walk in sometimes when it was summer and our back door was unlocked. When I was the kid doing this (not the walking in part) I did it because I loved little kids so much and I thought if I was over a lot, not only would it be fun, but she also might think of an evening that she wanted me to babysit and ask when I was there. My home life was very lonely too. I was ALWAYS home alone. I had an older sister that was an extreme bully, so it was very stressful there. Once I got a little older and had some freedom, I did hang out with friends and lost interest in heading over all the time. My neighbor actually didn’t leave many hints for me to get lost. She actually ended up buying me a pool pass, so I could help her watch one kid while she had one kid. I still think of how nice that was that she did that, but I know I was there way too much and she must have just been so annoyed.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I find in situations like this if you make it about you - it's easier.

Say "I'd feel more comfortable if we paid you for when you help with the kiddos - so as much as they love having you to visit, it would be better for me to just have your help when we need you to babysit." (some variation of that).

If she continues to stop by, just don't have her in - say "Oh hi Katie, we're just (....) today, ya, really not a good time ... I think we're going to need you in a couple of weeks when we have our date night - I'll give you a call about that ....".

I don't think it will take you too long to get the point across. Good luck

*If you do feel something is going on where she is using your home as a safe place, or she's going through a rough time (maybe lack of friends, etc.) then that's a possible reason for her behavior, but you don't mention that here.

ETA - I would do the clear limits too - such as "Today isn't a good day" .. or "Tues and Thursdays" however, I'm assuming you've tried this from your post. We had a kid who was like this, and I find if you don't address the behavior, you'll just keep running into this - and it will continue. If you're ok having her come by to play with your kids - fine. Set days and times, and then say busy when she just shows up unannounced. It's not rude to say no kindly.

However, if you are bothered by whole thing, that's when you can say you'd be more comfortable just having her babysit when you pay her, and you'll call her when you need her services.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Be very black and white...
Susie, you can come over only once or twice a week to say hello max, otherwise it's too much. We need family-only time.
At the door: Susie, you can't come over today...it's not a good time.
Sorry Susie, we are having family time now. See you later! (shut door)
Susie, I asked you to come over less often...try again this weekend. I think we will have time then.
Also, if she does come over set a time limit: Susie, you can visit for an hour then you will need to get going. Susie, you have 10 minutes till it's time to go. Kids, let's walk Susie to the door and say goodbye - she is leaving now.

I have a teenager he and his friends are all sometimes kind of funny and clueless. You just have to state things very black and white. You can do this in a friendly way and they will listen. You just have to be a bit bossy. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Are you serious? You can't answer the door and tell someone, "I'm sorry, this isn't a good time. Why don't you come back on Thursday (or whatever day/time you choose)."

For real? Is there more to this story? Do you feel bad for the teenager, or like it's your responsibility to make this teenager happy? Are you worried this teenager has nothing to do?Why?

Just say No. It's your house.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You say there is nothing creepy about the family, but I still have to wonder why a teenage girl would want to spend so much time at your house. If this isn't about trouble at home, maybe she is socially awkward, having trouble meeting her own friends? Maybe she thinks she is being helpful to you? If she is a good babysitter, maybe you can refer her to your friends to keep her busy elsewhere?

If she doesn't take hints, I think you have to be direct and just let her know "this isn't a good time for a visit," and not let her in. Maybe during one of her visits that you allow, you can casually ask her about school activities, friends, etc., and see if you can help her identify activities she could get involved with. If she likes children, maybe she'd make a good coach or camp counselor. Sounds to me like this girl could use a mentor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Please put a stop to this. I had bad experiences with an inappropriate neighbor and my parents didn’t know.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think Brooke raises an interesting point, that this teen would prefer to be at your house rather than in her own home. And I'd add that so many of us have had trouble finding a babysitter because teens are involved with their own friends and with activities. So why isn't this teen?

Your friends have made other suggestions which haven't worked, but you don't say what those are.

If you rule out that there's something going on (and I actually don't know how you do that), then you have to stop with the hints. "Susie, I have suggested to you on over 20 occasions that stopping by so frequently and then staying for hours is a problem for our family." (Optional: "Frankly, I'm quite surprised that you don't have other interests, whether it's friends your own age or activities. Is there a reason for this that you'd like to share with me?")

Then I'd lay down the law: "One of the most important qualities in a reliable babysitter is knowing that my instructions will be followed. I'm very concerned that you continue to do what you want, and that you are not listening to me. That makes me worried about leaving you alone with my children when I'm not home. Now, maybe I've done too much hinting and not enough direct explaining, so I'm changing that now. Here is my family rule: children need to play alone and with each other, and not have an older person directing their play all the time. It is not convenient for you to be over here so often, and I need you to respect that. I expect my decisions and rules to be followed. You're not doing that. I don't want to end our babysitting arrangement, but I will if things don't change immediately. From now on, you are not to just drop over, even for a few minutes. We have a routine here and I want to follow it. Will you agree to this, or not?"

Then be prepared to find another babysitter, even if it means driving to pick up/drop off.

Maybe this teen is lacking in social skills with her peers, and she feels more secure with young kids. Maybe her social inadequacies affect her peer relationships. Kids on the autism spectrum, for example, often do not read social cues at all well. Perhaps that's going on.

And if there's something more sinister going on at her home where she's not allowed to do things with peers, or worse, that she's escaping something to the safety of your home, you (and she) have bigger problems. You can't tell what's going on behind closed doors, so even if her parents seem nice to you, that doesn't mean it's lovely over there.



answers from New York on

Hi there, I’m so glad to have come across your question. I came looking for an online parenting forum to ask advice about boundaries with neighbours, and it’s so helpful to know I’m not alone!!

Your situation sounds frustrating! I would agree with some of what others have said about being clear when she comes over that it’s not a good time. And also letting her know you’ll contact her the next time you need her to come by. If she comes back before you contact her next I would continue to let her know its not a good time.

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on my neighbour boundary issues! I’m new to online forums like this, so I hope I’m not stepping on proper etiquette by piggybacking. I’m hoping because it’s all about boundaries it’ll be helpful for you too!

Our issue is that our daughter has two friends in our neighbourhood who she really enjoys playing with, whose parents have very few boundaries in their own homes and they let their children do things we wouldn’t. For example, one neighbour has backyard chickens and their daughter loves playing with them constantly. The chickens are very dirty and there are rats that have burrowed underneath their coop. We have concerns about the risk of disease and don’t want our daughter playing with them often. These parents also let their child take the chickens to our neighbourhood park where they play on the play equipment with them. There are often dogs at this park and I’m worried one day one of the dogs is going to go after one of the chickens and the kids are either going to get hurt or be traumatized by watching a chicken get killed.

How do I address this with the neighbours without offending them? I feel like I’m the parent whose always saying no to the kids and I worry about how this is impacting my child because they other parents say no to nothing. Not playing with these kids is not an option so I’m looking for ways to tactfully approach this with the parents.


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