We are blessed to be surrounded by amazing neighbors in our new neighborhood. We’re so grateful for this and are committed to being good neighbors to them.
Unfortunately, the term “neighbors” often doesn’t conjure up the feelings of warmth, cooperation, and solidarity that it once did. There are a number of reasons for this and just as many reasons why we should strive to be connected to our neighbors. An initial step in forming these connections is to be a good neighbor. Fortunately, there are simple things we can do every day to accomplish this.
How to be a good neighbor
- Learn your neighbors’ names. I’m one of those individuals who really has a difficult time remembering names. As I’ve struggled with this over the years, I’ve learned that people feel like you don’t really value them when you forget their names. On the other hand, when we remember our neighbors’ names (and the names of their kids and pets), they see that they are not just anonymous faces in the crowd. They realize that we care about them as individuals.
- Help your neighbors with projects and maintenance tasks. We can all use a little help around our houses, can’t we? When opportunities to assist our neighbors arise, we should take advantage of them! This can be something simple like shoveling snow from your neighbor’s sidewalk or something larger like helping your neighbor install new gutters.
- Keep your yard tidy. No one wants to live next to a neighbor who has an overgrown lawn or a yard strewn with crushed soda cans. This doesn’t mean that we have to have our yards professionally landscaped. However, it does mean we should keep our lawns and hedges trimmed so they don’t become eyesores and that we should secure our trash so it doesn’t get blown about by the wind and litter our yards and our neighbors’ yards.
- Be conscientious when making noise. Though I am encouraging you to keep your yard mowed, I am not encouraging you to mow it at 3:30 in the morning. Making this noise so early will not bless your neighbors! Even the Bible emphasizes this point (Proverbs 27:14). When we make noise (run lawn equipment, use power tools, host parties, etc.), we need to be aware that it may disturb our neighbors. We should do our best to make these noises during hours when our neighbors are awake and to make as little noise as is possible.
- Keep an eye on your neighbors’ homes. One of the best ways we can keep our neighborhoods safe is to keep watch on our neighbors’ homes and report suspicious activity if needed. Of course, in order to know what is suspicious, we must first know what is normal! This means we have to know our neighbors and their habits, as well as what sort of activity is typical in our neighborhoods.
- Organize or attend neighborhood activities. By organizing block parties, stopping by garage sales, and attending neighborhood watch meetings, we get to know our neighbors, stay up-to-date on current events, and learn ways we can contribute to making our neighborhoods safe and friendly. Who knows? We might have some fun, make new friends, and find some garage sale treasures along the way!
- Serve neighbors who are sick or in need. We can provide practical assistance when neighbors experience life changing events (the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, a job loss, a house fire, etc.). Simple gestures like providing a warm meal or offering to mow their lawn make a big difference to neighbors in times like these.
- Be informed about community issues and voice your opinions. Our neighborhoods are impacted by changes that occur in our larger communities (speed limit changes, lawn watering regulations, the construction of new schools, etc.). It’s important that we remain informed about proposed changes so we can determine what is best for our neighborhoods and seek to have these policies put into place. We can express our opinions through activities like voting, writing editorials, and attending city council meetings.
Do you use these approaches to be a good neighbor? Have they helped you form positive relationships? What other actions do you recommend?