Neighbors complaining how I raise my kids

LInyBobDecember 19, 2010

(copied from my thread about the lady downstairs complaining about noise... this is a new topic really)

This afternoon, I had to go to the store to get some food. I left my boys alone. One is a teen, the other 11. They were quiet while I was gone.

(They are quite experienced at being left alone and both my ex-wife and myself do leave them alone sometimes. But that is our decision. We have checked with the school, the kids' doctors and the lawyers and what we are doing is fine.

My older son (13) called me and told me that the downstairs lady and the office manager were ringing the doorbell. I told him not to answer. He assured me that both he and his brother had been behaving and were quiet.

A few hours after my return, I went out to the car and the lady next door (a friend of the downstairs lady) came up to me and out of the blue asked me "What kind of person leaves their kids alone for hours?" (I had never ever spoken to her before) She told me she was afraid that if there was a fire her apartment would be endangered. I asked her why there would be a fire. She said if my kids were left alone they might start a fire.

I ignored her and proceeded to my apartment. She told me "and don't think I don't know the laws about this.." (actually the law in NYS says there is no age - it is up to a parent to make the decision.)

I don't think leaving a 13 and 11 y/o alone for a short time is any of her business. Doesn't this busybody-ness constitute interference with my "quiet enjoyment"?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How would the downstairs lady and the office manager know that the kids were home alone? That seems fishy. Unless the kids were making noise and didn't want to tell you about it.

I agree that an 11 and a 13 year old are probably old enough to be by themselves for a couple of hours. And if the law in your state agrees, I'd just smile nicely at the busybodies and go on your way.

Why are your neighbors watching you so closely that they knew you had left but the kids were still at home? That's the real problem here, IMO. It's not interference with your "quiet enjoyment" though, it's just rude.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The neighbors can clearly see when my car is parked outside or not, so they can tell if I'm home or not. The lady downstairs does not like kids and wants us out. She has repeatedly complained about noise even though it is not at all excessive. Just kids playing.

The last complaint was about the kids playing in the apartment at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon. Its not like I had a party with music and loud noises at 2am. The management ignored her.

I am divorced and the kids visit every other weekend. It is not like they are running wild endlessly. Generally they play video games with headphones on. My older son was on the computer in one room, the younger one playing the video games in another. They swore to me they were not making noise.

She (and her friend) are doing all they can now to get me thrown out. I mind my business, am gone to work 12-14 hours a day, am totally quiet when I am home. The lady downstairs does not want anyone living over her - she can hear us walking and talking and has complained to me about how she can hear me going up and down the stairs. (I have no other entrance to the apartment).

She saw my car was gone and heard the kids walking around. My younger son at one point ran to the bathroom while I was gone. Maybe she heard that. Maybe she saw me leave without them.

This complex is "family oriented". They allow kids to live here. There are plenty of kids living here. Mine only visit.

I just want to be left alone to live my life and be allowed to have my kids visit and for us to live normally. I don't even look at or talk to these two old women.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 5:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In the situation you describe, I'd go to the office manager and ask why the office manager was knocking on your door. You can always say that you have instructed your children not to answer the door if you are not home. Give the office manager your cell phone number, if you have one, and ask that you be called if a neighbor reports a problem, rather than having two relative strangers knocking on your door and scaring your kids.

You need to be as pro-active as possible with the manager. Explain what you have done to lessen the effects of footfall noise on the apartment below--if you and the kids don't wear shoes in the house, or you have put down area rugs or anything else that you do. Ask the manager if there's anything thing else you can try.

Point out to the manager that it's legal for your kids be alone for an hour or two and that they've learned how to be quiet in an apartment.

Then point out that the constant watching of your arrivals and departures is beginning to border on harassment by the neighbors. That you aren't happy with the constant complaints about noise on the stairs--which you can do nothing to fix. Ask what the management is going to do about that. Ask if they can move Complaining Lady to a different apartment. Or, if you wouldn't mind moving, ask if you can move to a ground floor apartment when one opens up.

Show that you are willing to work with management, but that you are not willing to be hounded by the neighbors. Bear in mind that management can't stop the neighbors complaining about noise or watching all your actions, but management can change how they react to all the complaints.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is all good advice. When the two women rang the door bell my kids did not answer it. I taught them never to answer the door when they are alone and they did not. I'm glad they didn't else these old bats could have used that against me - "the kids opened the door and didn't even know us... shows how irresponsible they really are..."

We are quiet and respectful of neighbors but I do not want to ask "What else can I do?" I do enough already - we have carpets, we keep the volume down, they only visit 2x a month... that is enough for these two old biddies. I'm not bending over backwards for them. What are they going to do for me?

And I would never ask for a ground floor apartment. Been there, done that. That's why I specifically requested a top floor. The old lady downstairs should request to move to a top floor if she can't stand the sounds from above, the same as me. Now if they want to upgrade me at no additional cost, as long as it is upstairs.. well sure...

But given that I've done nothing wrong, I'm not going to ask what more can I do to please this whiner.

I spoke with CPS today - Child Protective Services - and they agreed that 11 and 13 is OK to be alone for an hour or two after lunch during the day in a locked apartment with a cell and landline phone. They said they would take no action if they ever received this complaint.

Oh - and the complaining lady downstairs has a cat which is in violation of the lease here - no pets. Maybe I ought to complain except I really don't feel like being a jerk.

The monitoring of my comings and going is spooky. Especially when it is two of them watching me and my kids. Yuck!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 7:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Why not remind the busybody how old they are and that they're very responsible - which is why they didn't answer the door.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 7:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

linybob, my suggestions were to help keep you on the good side of management, not the complaining lady. You want management on your side, whatever you do. I suspect if you ask management what else you can do, they aren't going to have any suggestions that you haven't already tried, but it shows good faith and that you are willing to work with management--not that you are necessarily trying to please the complaining lady.

If management is backing you up, then I don't think there's much more that you can do. Just ignore the busybodies and hope they find someone else to bother. The less you engage them, the less drama they will have to feed off.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 10:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree. Even when the old bat came up to me I just said "uh huh, yeah, yeah, whatever..." and basically ignored her and went inside. Today I received a letter from mgmt stating that they "want to provide a reasonable living environment for all tenants." They tell me that they are sending a separate letter to the lady downstairs advising her of the same.

I can only assume when these women get old and bored, that they have nothing better to do. Sad. I really think they need a hobby or something. Personally, I have neither time nor interest to fight these two old biddies. I totally ignore them - don't look at them, don't bother them, don't antagonize them - nothing. My time is so used by work and the kids I really can't be bothered.

Oh - I checked with NYS Child Protective Services and they told me if they ever were to receive a complaint about an 11 and 13 y/o left alone for two hours they would ignore it. I did NOTHING wrong. So even CPS is backing me up.

And they (mgmt) have yet to receive my letter complaining of this latest harassment.

Really - I just want to be left alone to live my life with my kids. I have zero interest in fighting anyone.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 8:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You know, you could try to befriend those women instead of taking the very hard attitude you outlined. They care about kids, which is better than some people, and you might find they would make good sitters if the occasion arose. But even if not, they might be really great people, maybe former teachers, nurses, mothers, etc. and to just write them off because they're older and grew up in a different atmosphere seems pretty cold and ungenerous, especially when you know nothing at all about them.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 11:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also think that it would have been nice (seeing as they cared, whether or not you appreciated how they showed it) to tell them how old your boys are, and that you weren't gone for long, etc. etc., rather than ignoring them so meanly. They were trying to do the right thing after all.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 11:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a LL I completely agree with camlan's post of Mon, Dec 20, 10, 9:42.

You sound like a responsible tenant & father. You've covered all the bases. IMHO the women's behavior is of a busybody nature, and if it continues is bordering on harassment. Hope you can work it out so you can live in peace, as is your right.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 7:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Larke: I have no interest in befriending these two ladies. I do not want them monitoring my comings and goings nor those of my children. I did not ask for their interference and do not wish to encourage it. They do not care about my kids. They only want the upstairs apartment, in which I live, vacated. If they are "really great people" they should let me be the father to my kids and let me decide how to raise my kids. I don't need strangers advising me, unasked for - really I am doing fine. If I need help, I have my own support network and these two busybodies are not a part of it.

As for "They were trying to do the right thing after all" - the right thing would be to mind their own business. My kids don't need them watching us nor do I. I have the names of several past babysitters should I need them and these two are certainly not on the list.

I absolutely have no intention of talking to these two old biddies, let alone giving them any details of my sons such as names or ages.

"especially when you know nothing at all about them" - and they know nothing of me or my kids. And they should not be telling me how I should be a parent to them. Nobody asked for their advice, and as I stated, if I need advice, I have plenty of my own resources and these two are not on the list.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 8:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I will just tell you one thing - as a mother, I would never discount anyone who shows an interest in children ("it takes a village") - the more the merrier, because one day I might not be there when it matters and I would hope someone else is. It's automatic for people (women more so - we can't help it!) to care about children and being defensive about that because you're a man, or only attributing nasty motives to them (their wanting the apt.) is sad.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 4:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Larke. When "the Village" steps up and pays for food for my kids or clothes or college, I'll be more than glad to listen to their unsolicited advice on how I should parent my kids. Until that time though, I really don't need someone I don't even know and have never spoken to in my life, asking me "what kind of person leaves their kids alone" when A) she doesn't even know my kids' names or ages or B) if in fact they're even in there. (in fact I had gotten out of the car with one of my kids at my side!!)

It's one thing if someone hears crying or yelling or some sign of distress and steps in. Questioning a total stranger over his parenting skills when there is zero reason for concern seems extreme and useless to me.

I'm sure I'd win many friends if I (for example), out of the blue, spoke up to mothers in the grocery store and asked why they were buying this or that child's food or toy or whatever. "You're buying your kids that unhealthy, fattening chocolate chip ice cream? What kind of mother are you anyway?"

Try it next time you're in the grocery store Larke and see how it goes over and please let us know. Try it with a few mothers, please. I'm sure all the mothers will thank you and say to you "oh thank you lady for watching how I feed my kids". What a wonderful and happy Village, indeed.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 8:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mrs. Kravitz' advice does not interrupt your quiet enjoyment.

I can appreciate Larke's point of view that it's a better approach to at least try being nice. If she turns out to be that annoying, obnoxious neighbor that everyone hates seeing, you'll have only done the right thing in case there is a court or landlord issue. Otherwise, you may be equally unsympathetic in front of a judge.

The village isn't really about buying your groceries. It's about calling 911 and running over to help if the house did catch fire.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 9:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The grocery store/food analogy is not the same thing. The women were concerned about your childrens' safety and whether or not you think it was needed, it wouldn't have killed you to thank them politely (and just ignore whatever else you weren't interested in talking about).

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 5:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Since they are older ladies, it is quite possible they think your kids are much younger than they are - as we age we tend to forget how young kids can look. If they thought, for instance, that you left five and seven year-olds alone, they would be rightfully concerned.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 6:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The OP was basically accused, in a not so subtle manner, of being a neglectful parent. Most parents would bristle at the mere hint of that accusation. If the OP just wants to go about his business & live his life without having his movements monitored & being chastised by those doing the monitoring, that sounds reasonable enough. What's the big deal?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 8:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"The grocery store/food analogy is not the same thing. The women were concerned about your childrens' safety and whether or not you think it was needed, it wouldn't have killed you to thank them politely (and just ignore whatever else you weren't interested in talking about)."

I do not consider the words "what kind of person leaves their kids alone" to be very polite. If this neighbor were so concerned about the children's safety then don't you think she would have approached this mother in a more conciliatory (polite) manner?

If the neighbor thinks there is a problem, then she should call the management office (or the police). Not bother the OP by insinuating that her parenting skills are suspect.

I was babysitting when I was 12 yrs old. I'd watch people's kids from 7pm until whenever they got home. My parents didn't mind and no one in our neighborhood thought this was unusual.

The OP's kids aren't toddlers, they have mom's phone number and other contact info. If mom trusts them to be left alone for an hour without supervision, it isn't her job to have to explain this to anyone else. Especially a stranger who is nasty right out of the gate.

The OP is doing exactly what I would do. Ignoring Mrs Kravitz.

P.S. Moonshadow-I agree completely.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wonder if the OP has seen Mrs. Kravitz since her neighborly visit.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 4:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Incredibly enough, today we had a big snowstorm here in NY, and this afternoon she was outside, in almost the same spot in which she harassed me, this time yelling at a 20-30ish young couple about how they were digging out their car. She warned them not to throw any snow on her car (parked next to theirs) and stood there while he shoveled, just to make sure.

Also , my son was over (no school) and helped to dig my car out (parked way down, nowhere close to her ) and her husband came out and spent the whole time using 4 letter words about the snow ( mess, etc) even though a 13 y/o boy was right there. Real class acts.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 6:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you ever thought of hiding a small tape recorder in your apartment when you leave?

While we all tend to believe our children, they do lie at times. I have seen children swear up and down they didn't do something and parents will defend them to the end. It can take a third party to get the truth and the parents are always shocked to find out what good little liars they have raised.

I'm not saying your children are definitely lying to you, just that it IS possible. I have two teenagers. Just like Judge Judy says, if a teenagers mouth is moving, they're probably lying.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 9:42AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
3 mentally ill roommates and a baby, what to do?
I live in a small 1 bedroom apartment with 2 other...
fyi-spammer attack on gardenweb-don't click!
The spammers are out in full force today. Do not click...
Moth problem..Help please.....
Allright I have had a moth problem for about 5 maybe...
Arranging the living room. Help needed.
Hi there, I am needing some help regarding the arrangement...
Running upstairs!!!!
Please someone help me...I need some advice!! At this...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™