Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Howdy Neighbor

After spending two weeks listening to my children fight with each other about anything and everything possible, we resorted back to a plan we adopted last summer. They became neighbors, not siblings.

 As odd and unconventional as the plan sounds, it has worked for us in the past and evolved out of desperation. My son and daughter are at ages (9 and 11) where they both want independence, they don’t want to be bothered with a younger brother or older sister, and they don’t seem to mesh as well as they did when they were younger.

 We thought long and hard about strategies to ward off the constant bickering. After tiring days and nights of groundings, extra chores and long, drawn-out arguments, our family came up with the neighbor plan.

 It’s simple, actually. As a society, we typically treat our neighbors with respect. We check in on them without any real reason to do so. We put on our best face to greet them, and we make life-long friends through neighbor relationships.

 My children were not treating each other with respect as siblings, so we ventured into a neighbor relationship. Each one had to knock on the other’s bedroom door before entering (just as we would with our neighbors). They were not to invade each other’s personal space (or yard) and they were to speak to each other as neighbors would.

Most importantly, they referred to each other only as neighbors and not as brother or sister.

 My children embraced this plan from the beginning and would even smile and wave at each other as they passed in the hallway. “Howdy neighbor,” my daughter would say to her brother each morning versus the grunt he used to get as her sibling. The plan forced them to look at each other as new acquaintances, ones without the baggage of negative exchanges and arguments. It was as if they were both meeting a new friend.

 The plan has its flaws and we’ve even considered a divorce versus a neighbor relationship when the fighting was extreme, but the experiment taught us one thing – right or wrong, we definitely treat our neighbors with more respect than our own family members at times.

 And, until my children treat each other with respect on a regular basis, I’ll continue raising the neighbors.


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Jan. 3, 2010

 © Shannon Philpott, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


January 3, 2010 - Posted by | Blog, Parenting, Reflecting | , , , , ,

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