My Neighbours Asked to Watch Their Kids During an Emergency; I Refused

People
4 months ago

Relationships with neighbors can be tough, often marked by a delicate balance between friendliness and privacy. Misunderstandings over boundaries or noise can escalate, creating tensions that are hard to diffuse. One of the users on Reddit shared a story when she got an unexpected knock on the door from her neighbor in the middle of the night.

The woman shared her story online:

I’m a 26-year-old woman living in a newly built apartment complex where everyone moved in about a year ago. This has been a period of getting to know the neighbors.

Our building has several families, and there’s a communal courtyard where children play during summer, allowing parents to socialize as the kids have fun.

In the past, we’ve helped each other out with small favors, especially things related to childcare. I find myself often being the one to offer help.

However, I maintain a certain distance to avoid getting too close. I have two young children, a 2-year-old and an 11-month-old. Currently, I’m parenting on my own while my husband visits his family and friends for a few days.

In our building, there’s a moms’ group chat where they arrange to swap childcare duties, but I’ve stayed mostly inactive and don’t participate in the babysitting swaps. My children are too young to communicate well, and I’m not comfortable with the arrangement.

Last night, at 3 a.m., I was startled awake by a knock at the door. With my husband away and no visitors expected at such an hour, I hesitated to answer. However, the knocking persisted, waking my children, so I checked through the peephole and saw it was my neighbor.

Upon opening the door, I found her in labor, accompanied by her boyfriend and their two children, ready to head to the hospital. She asked if I could watch her children until her sister arrived within an hour.

I declined, explaining my reluctance to be responsible for her children, especially with my own kids asleep and the potential for disturbance.

I believe in planning for such situations rather than seeking last-minute help. Managing two more children, especially late at night, was beyond what I felt capable of handling.

They called me evil and rude and the bf got onto me saying what kind of mother watches another struggle. I felt that if my husband were home, the interaction might have been different.

The story got mixed reactions:

  • This was an expected “emergency”. And labor pains come on gently. The expecting couple should already have caretakers for other kiddos on standby. When the first labor pains started — should have implemented Plan X, with pre-planned childcare — not a very quiet neighbor at 3 am who had little engagement but polite convo and head nods of acknowledgement. BonusMomSays / Reddit
  • It’s bad enough just knocking on doors and hoping that an acquaintance you barely know is willing or safe to watch your children, but what on earth are they expecting at 3 am?! For all they know you could have work, you might not be home, you could eat babies, and they don’t know you well enough to just drop children off on your doorstep! Baileythenerd / Reddit
  • They could’ve easily taken the kids with them & sister met them at the hospital. Going into labor is not an emergency. If the baby was in danger, a true emergency would’ve had an ambulance roll up to take care of mom & get her to the hospital. northwyndsgurl / Reddit
  • You’re one of these “neither a borrower nor a lender is” types, aren’t you? And that’s fine. You’re perfectly entitled to not offer help when asked. But I do hope you never seek assistance because there’s every chance none will be offered back. IMO what would have happened to you if you had helped out in this situation? sanddancer08 / Reddit
  • I get that it wasn’t irresponsibility to take care of this person’s kid, but you’re a human, and they’re a human and to a certain degree, it’s just kind when humans help other humans in the middle of an emergency. So, you do you, but realize that you’re setting yourself for a position where nobody’s gonna help you if there’s an emergent need. And they’re not gonna want to tell you ever, and they’ll think that you’re kind of cold. FishScrumptious / Reddit
  • She was in labor. It was an emergency. Her sister would be there in 1 hour. You couldn’t keep someone’s kids alive and unharmed (probably while they slept on your couch) for one freaking hour until help could arrive? It’s one thing to be friendly but not participate in the baby-sitting rounds, but it’s another thing entirely to refuse help during an emergency. Swimming-Fix-2637 / Reddit

Who do you think is right here? In another story, a husband didn’t help his pregnant wife while she was in a dangerous situation. Instead, he made sure his cat was safe and sound.

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I dont understand where all the other parents in the building were? Why was she the only one they could go to? This sounds like it may be a made up story.

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