How to deal with neighbor problems

With problems, as with anything, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. We strive to practice the following:

Look ahead and try to avoid future possible problems. Our policy has been to befriend new neighbors from the very beginning, such as helping them move in; telling them where things are, such as the store, library, etc.; taking over food; visiting briefly while not being nosy.Then, in the future, if there is a problem, such as their cars blocking your driveway or loud, late parties, you can go to them as a friend to ask for consideration instead of going as an irate stranger.

Allow them their privacy and avoid gossip completely.

Don't pick at everything. Talk to them only about things that are particularly annoying, such as losing sleep, etc.

We have seen other neighbors lash out without befriending, and there have developed ill feelings that have escalated seriously. - Jan and Clarence Dickson, Hawthorne, Calif.

What we did:

Patience, calmness

We are all children of our Heavenly Father, including our troublesome neighbors. This knowledge can help us to appeal to their better self by always treating them as such - with patience, calmness and friendliness.

A neighbor of mine constantly shouted abusively at me as soon as I left my home. I decided to speak first with a cheerful greeting. Within a week, he had stopped shouting and became a friend.

Radio aerial, hub caps and badges disappeared from my car, and local children jumped up and down on the car. I went out and befriended them. From then on, they protected my car from future vandals.

Pray for guidance. Listen to their concerns. Be prepared to apologize for whatever bothers them and seek compromise, if necessary. We can defuse a situation by controlling our anger, being sympathetic to their point of view and having a humble spirit.

Remember, " . . . he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife." (Prov. 15:18.) - Pamela Brogan, Gloucestershire, England

`Just because'

My parents moved to a new house while I was on my mission. We had a neighbor who from the onset was very bitter and mean. After my return, we tried some things to be friendly. We would take treats to our neighbor and do nice things for him "just because."

We finally saw the kindness reciprocated back to us last fall during canning season. I had asked to pick some of his apples, and he consented. Then one day he called me and asked if I could use some plums and some grapes. I went over there to pick them, and these neighbors even helped me fill my buckets. He called us this winter and asked if it would be OK if he came and plowed our driveway. What comes around does go around. You can't dislike someone you have served. - Name and location withheld

Love is the answer

Several years ago, a family moved next door. Over a period of time, it became apparent that our ways were not their ways. Calls were made to various city agencies, tempers flared and misunderstandings led to feelings not in keeping with our teachings.

Finally, one day, I saw one of the sons of the family who spoke English, and I invited him in my home to discuss the problem. I gave him a list of 10 or more grievances and problems, and I told him to go and discuss these with his family and then bring back a list to me of how they felt I could change. Much to my surprise, he returned and told me, "They love you just as you are."

This humbled me and taught me a lesson. Love is the answer. I now love my neighbors and receive love from them. - Sharon Olson, Salt Lake City, Utah

Bake a cake

We had a neighborhood bully that would push my younger children around and not respect our yard. He lived in the house right next to ours.

One Saturday I baked him a cake and wrote "Have a good day!" on it. When I gave it to him, I said: "This cake is just for you. In return, I would like you to walk on the sidewalk instead of our lawn when you go to the bus, and I would like you to treat my children with respect. Do you think you would be able to do that for me?"

He was about 10 years old at the time. He agreed, and we never had any problem after that. In his teen years, he ended up working at the same place as one of my children, and they became friends. Kindness always softens an angry heart. - Shauna Freeman Campbell, Kindersley, Saskatchewan

`A soft answer'

In dealing with difficult neighbors, we can borrow from George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). In the Quaker tradition, the fact that someone else is difficult or even violent is no justification for violence or indignation. "A soft answer turneth away wrath." (Prov. 15:1.) And even if wrath is not turned away, we need not feed and nourish it at our own hearth.

Some imagery that will assist us in waging peace with a difficult neighbor would be to create a mental picture of that neighbor together with you in a holy place, such as the temple. Then treat your neighbor with the respect you would in a holy precinct. Allow your own indignation to melt away as nonproductive and inconsequential.

Some people will reject the love and fellowship you project, regardless. Be at peace with their decision. Recognize that God is not finished with you, either. Look for the good in every situation. Ask yourself, "Will what I say and do help them or push them further from the Kingdom of God?" - George Jarvi, Mokena, Ill.

How to checklist:

Make friends with your neighbors; give service, do nice things for them.

Be patient, calm during trouble; avoid angry responses.

Pray for guidance, listen to their concerns, apologize for your mistakes.

Look for the good in every situation; don't gossip.


March 21 "How to rear children in light and truth."

March 28 "How to begin family history research."

April 4 "How to use general conference messages to solve personal, family problems."

April 18 "How to help an overly dependent friend."

April 25 "How to plan an inexpensive family vacation."

May 2 "How to help a loved one addicted to prescription drugs."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to supplement your regular income," "How to build a strong work ethic in children," "How to avoid greed," "How to be more resilient in day-to-day life."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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