Ask Amy: My neighbor’s daycare kids play outside unsupervised

Dear Amy: My family has lived in the same neighborhood for 25 years. We’ve never had any issues — until now.

Our next-door neighbor, who has been here for four years, has decided to start a day care in her home. (She has told us that she has a history of suing ex-employers and friends.)

The problem is that she doesn’t supervise the children when they are outside. They are in the street, in our front yard, in other neighbors’ front yards, in our driveways, etc. I can live with that.

What I can’t live with is when they are in the backyard, they harass our two dogs. These kids shoot Nerf bullets at them, poke sticks through the fence, stand close to the fence and yell at and tease them by putting their hands through the fence, etc.

I have asked her to please watch them when they are in the backyard, but she doesn’t. We recently installed a windscreen (for baseball fields) along the fence, but the kids still find ways to torment our dogs.

The dogs are 90 percent in the house, but when the kids are outside screaming, the dogs hear them and go out through the dog door to investigate. I work remotely from home (thankfully) so when I see the children outside, I make my dogs stay inside. It is very annoying.

I have documented each time there is an issue and even recorded the kids bothering our dogs. We are now installing a camera system. I am scared a child will eventually get hurt. We are not in a position to move.

Any suggestions on how to handle this besides just covering our own liability?

Bothered: A child will eventually get hurt.

What you describe is an extremely unsafe environment for young children. I understand that you are primarily worried about children in the backyard, harassing your dogs.

But unsupervised young children also in your front yard? Not good. Unsupervised young children in your neighbors’ yards? Not good. Unsupervised children in the street? Extremely unsafe.

You should minimize your dogs’ time outside when the children are there. But any and every time you see these children shooting projectiles at your dogs, you should personally go outside, tell them to stop it, and explain that they are hurting the dogs, even if they don’t mean to.

Every time you see children in your front yard or the street, you should call the day-care proprietor and tell her that children are on your property and you are concerned for their safety.

If you see unsupervised young children in the street, you should immediately do what you can to see to their safety, and consider calling the police.

And then you should also report this unsafe day care business to the agency in your area that is in charge of regulating and investigating child care businesses. In my state, it is the Office of Children and Family Services.

You are obviously extremely intimidated by your neighbor (imagine how these children feel about her). I suggest that you stiffen your backbone and take all appropriate steps to force her to comply with safety standards.

Dear Amy: My niece just had a baby girl! I’m a proud great-uncle.

But the first picture that my brother posted was of his daughter breastfeeding the baby! This is the first time I have ever seen this! Is this commonplace now? Or has it ever been?

My fiance is as dumbfounded as I am!

— Dumbfounded in Denver!

Dumbfounded: Yes, breastfeeding has been “commonplace” ever since babies have been in need of nourishment.

People are now sharing photos of women feeding their babies, and so this has become commonplace, too. Some moms are posting “brelfies” (breastfeeding selfies) to social media.

The decision to share or keep breastfeeding private should be a parent’s prerogative. Women feeding babies should not be seen as an embarrassing, shameful or dumbfounding thing. (Would you have objected to the photo if your niece was bottle feeding her baby?)

As witnessing breastfeeding becomes culturally normalized, you could consider yourself at the vanguard of a trend: You saw a photo of a mother feeding her child, and survived.

Dear Amy: Please don’t use words like “doulas” in your column, because it forces me to take the time to look up the unknown word. I just can’t ignore it!

Dan: Thank you for looking up an unfamiliar word. Consider me your vocabulary doula, helping readers to birth knowledge.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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