It used to be that we baked the cookies, put together gift baskets, and went over to meet the new neighbors. Now, we maybe look out the window and wish they’d move away. How do we know if the new neighbor is someone we should befriend?
When I was young, there were several rented homes on our block. Neighbors came and went and we barely knew their names. However, three or four families of friends stuck together through thick and thin and gave the word “neighbor” a very good name.
When I purchased my first home, several greeted me warmly and we built a solid trust and lasting comradery. We watched each other’s homes, helped with pets during vacations and swapped babysitting. We even had a few block-parties. But when I moved to another state, all that changed.
Some of my grandchildren were close by and I jumped a the chance to become reconnected with them but a certain neighbor left me unsettled. And for good reasons.
He was alone and quiet but repeatedly struck up conversations with my grandchildren whenever they played in the front yard. I became alarmed when he invited them in, yet had never spoken to me. They did not enter his home.
For the Sake of Our Grandkids and Ourselves
Here’s how I evaluate my neighbors:
- Do they offer or respond to a “hello” or a wave?
- Have we spoken for a few minutes each week to gotten to know each other?
- What’s the upkeep on their lawn?
- Do they have frequent visitors at odd hours or throw loud parties?
- Have I heard them arguing or sense any abuse?
- If I took them cookies, did they invite me in? How well was their home taken care of?
- Do they have large or menacing pets?
- Do they seem happy and cooperative with each other when out in their yard?
- Have they spoken appropriately with my grandchildren?
- Is their appearance neat and clean?
When a new neighbor moves in, I take it with caution. I study their habits and determine if there are any safety issues. And I try hard to discern their characters. Are these things a bit drastic? Not when I want my grands to have the freedom to play outside at grandma’s. When in doubt, they stay inside my fenced yard or in the house and I speak very little with the questionable neighbor.
As time goes on, if I find I have misjudged I slowly proceed with a neighborly relationship. But honestly, I’ve rarely been wrong. So, better safe than sorry.
What do you look for in a good neighbor? And are you one?