Setting Boundaries with Neighbours

Updated on September 23, 2019
K.F. asks from New York, NY
5 answers

Hi there,

Our daughter likes to play with two kids in our neighbourhood and both of them have parents who have very different boundaries than we do. They let their kids do things we wouldn’t. For example, one neighbour has backyard chickens and their daughter plays with them like pets. The chickens are filthy and there are rats burrowing under the coop. We’re concerned about disease and don’t want our daughter playing with them often. These neighbours also let their child bring the chickens to the park where there are dogs playing. I worry one day a dog is going to go for the chickens and one of the kids will get hurt or they’ll be traumatized watching the chickens be killed. I don’t mind my daughter playing at their house but I don’t know how I let them know that I don’t want her playing with the chickens. I feel like I’m the only parent who says no to anything and I worry about how this is affecting my child. How do I talk to them about this without offending them??


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answers from New York on

Keep playdates at your house, away from the chickens.

I cannot imagine why a chicken would ever cross the road.

Also though, as some others say below, chickens are no more dangerous than other animals. They’re nothing to be, you know, “chicken” about.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Don’t talk to the neighbors. These are your boundaries, not theirs. If you don’t want your child to touch the chickens then you have to explain to your child why (in age appropriate way). If you’re feeling like you are saying No to everything, then you probably are. Try to find a balance and see the bigger picture.
You don’t mention how old your child is.
I don’t see the harm in allowing her to touch the chickens. If you’re worried about disease, educate yourself and your child on farm animal handling and hand washing. Ask the other parent how they manage it. If you live in the city, I’d be more worried about disease just from public transit, or the germs on the bottoms of shoes, than the chickens. The best that can happen if you allow your child to play with the chickens is the experience of nature and connecting with animals. That’s an opportunity. Will you give that to your daughter?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We've had animals that (*should add might potentially) carry salmonella before as pets - you just check with parents and kids before ever asking if they want to pet them. You also provide hand sanitizer and wash up afterwards.

It's up to you to instruct your child not to pet them/play with them if you don't want her to - just like if she was allergic to a cat at someone's home.

I don't understand the part about the kids taking chickens to the park with dogs there. Seems like a really bad idea overall. I would suggest your daughter not be a part of that in general - just tell her to come home if that's the plan. I would. If they are old enough to go to the park by themselves with pets then she's old enough to come home.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Have the neighbor girl over to your house to play - the chickens aren't invited.
On your turf your rules apply.
You can't impose your rules on the neighbors on their turf
It's not a good idea to play with chickens like they are pets.

Always have the kids wash their hands before they eat anything.
They need to leave their shoes at the door when they come inside if they are walking in chicken poop.
I'm kind of surprised no policeman has informed them about the need for keeping their flock at home and not bring them around to the park.
Dog owners have to scoop the poop - who picks up the chicken droppings?
It's a public health issue.
Next time you see the flock at the park I'd quietly make a call to the non emergency police number so someone official can have a word with your neighbor about keeping the chickens at home.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

oh noes! chickens!

you get to pick what your kids do. if that means telling your DAUGHTER, (not the neighbors) not to play with the chickens, do so. if your daughter won't follow your instructions, then don't let her play there.

you can always tell the neighbors, should they ask, about your disease concerns. but it's on you, not them.

it's none of your business if they play with the chickens like pets (many are) or take them to the park. if you're panicking about a potential 'trauma', don't let your kids go with them.

it's just as likely that the dogs will fight with each other and traumatize your kids.

i'm so glad my kids grew up playing with animals, rolling in the dirt, grubbing in streams and climbing trees. i can't imagine being this upset about a kid playing with farm animals.


3 moms found this helpful
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