LOUD children, should you have to keep yours quiet?

Has anyone else read this story about the family that was being sued because their children played too loud in their backyard pool?

One neighbor initiated the lawsuit, but I saw on a television show, a link to which I can longer find, that there were many neighbors who had been annoyed by these girls antics. And that all of them had complained numerous times to the family about keeping their girls more quiet. Saying that they were outside in the pool every single night screaming and yelling until at least 9pm, the neighbors I think has said it went on even later than that.

When I first heard the story, I as a parent, was annoyed on behalf of the girls. It’s their backyard, they should be able to enjoy it as they see fit.

But then I heard the audio tape and listened to the neighbors.

So I also have to wonder, as the parent of those two girls, why you would not make an effort to have your children play in the pool more quietly. Or at the very least, instruct them that after dinner hours were to be quiet pool playing time. I don’t think you need to scream to play outside.

I am very aware of this with my children. Seven children can be very loud. I will allow loud screaming play for short periods of time. But then I always intervene and explain to them that or neighbors probably don’t want to hear every detail of the game. This is especially true on the weekends. I tell the kids that people like to enjoy their backyards after a long week of working and want to relax and listen to the birds and enjoy the solitude.

The lawsuit has since been dropped. But I wonder what will happen now in the neighborhood.

24 Responses to “LOUD children, should you have to keep yours quiet?”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    They’ll probably have a huge pool party to celebrate!

  2. Sheree Says:

    I think it’s only reasonable to be AWARE of how your children sound and ask them to tone it down if the sound level is getting inappropriate- whether you’re in your backyard pool or the library.

    I can empathize with the neighbors- being bombarded incessently with noise (from kids or a barking dog or power tools) is no. fun. We live in a neighborhood where the houses are very close to each other so screaming play is saved for daytime hours and/or the park. Because I certainly don’t want to hear screaming kids for hours on end either!

  3. Lee Says:

    I wonder where the parents were while their children were screaming in the POOL - shouldn’t they have been outside supervising? Perhaps they liked hearing the girls since they then knew they weren’t drowning.

    I felt for this family at first but from what I’ve read, the noise went far beyond the regular childhood fun/play. I think they should tone it down - and I hope their kids stay safe in the pool.

  4. Wendy Says:

    I will agree. Our neighbor’s teenage son is in a band. They play in his garage during the day, but we have not heard them once at night. I dont even think after 4pm. Even on the weekends. So even though it bothers me somedays. I can hear the words to the songs clearly. I dont complain about it to them. I figure we all have to learn near each other why start fights.

    Now, the neighbor with the Pitbull that keeps getting off his chain is another story. We have been having discussions with that neighbor. We shouldnt be afraid to play in our backyard.

    And our neighborhood is a little more spread out than others.

  5. Trish Says:

    On the one hand, the neighbor had been complaining for three years so it’s obviously a problem.

    On the other hand, three years ago the youngest was a 2yo. How much noise can a 2yo make? Even when mine is screaming at the top of her lungs (which she does all the time for no reason lately), it’s still not that loud.

    So is the neighbor a whiner who wants complete silence or are these the loudest two kids on the planet? Either way, I’m surprised both parties still live in the neighborhood - I would have moved by now.

  6. Jim Says:

    Part of our position as parents to to teach our children about community and compassion; that the world doesn’t revolve around them. We can’t raise a bunch of narcissists that think everyone wants to hear their screaming and antics all hours of the day and night.

    I think it is the right and proper thing to teach them to be respectful members of their community; to instruct them that their are boundaries that they need to heed. It is not unreasonable, as a parent to tell your kids to keep quiet during the hours that other people may be sleeping (or WORSE, trying to get their babies to sleep) or trying to get some peace after a long day.

    If we don’t, our kids are going to just add to the problems of our communities as they get older instead of helping to solve them.

  7. Kamrin Says:

    Where did you find the sound bite? I have kids who are loud, and I have neighbor kids who are loud. The difference can be in the kind of loud. Sometimes it sounds like they are killing each other, yelling and hollorin’ and carrying on! My kids scream shouts of joy. Weird. I am sure the truth is somewhere in the middle of both points of view.

  8. Nicki Says:

    I hadn’t heard about this but I think the lawsuit is ridiculous. I tried to find an audio clip online but didn’t find one. My first response is that kids need SOME place to be allowed to just be loud. Period. We teach our kids the whole “indoor voice” thing so obviously they assume that outdoors they can just let loose. We don’t let them out past dark, we don’t let them out early in the morning. It would never ever occur to me that our rambunction playing in the pool (which I *do* have audio clips of, oddly) would be inappropriate. If they can’t be loud on our own property where CAN they just let loose?

  9. chris Says:

    I think that being loud sometimes is okay. It is the duration of the noise that the neighbors were bothered by, hours and ours each day well into the night time hours.

    I can’t find the link any longer. But imagine non stop screaming, not talking, just screaming on the top of their lungs over and over and over again.

    I think the lawsuit was dropped because it was ridiculous, but I imagine the neighbor felt that they had exhausted all means of negotiating with the family.

  10. chris Says:


    I wondered the same things. But then it was more than one neighbor who had a problem with the noise level of the family, only one filed a suit though. but they had maybe 6(?) neighbors who all complained routinely. ALSO, it should be noted that the other families have kids as well. So this isn’t a child free issue.

  11. Stephanie Says:

    well said, Jim!

  12. Heather Says:

    I must second the “well said, Jim”

    I heard about this suit but haven’t followed it.

    Within our group of friends, there is one set of sisters that scream and cry and yell and pull hair) non-stop. I could not imagine living next door to them and their parents are long-time friends.

  13. Mary Ann Says:

    My parents’ yard backs up to a “pool yard” with loud screaming and loud radio music nightly. However, precisely at 10 pm all is quiet. That is because of the local noise ordinance. Most municipalities have them. During “quiet hours” after a certain time at night and before a certain time in the morning there is no construction work and loud parties may be quieted. During the day, anything goes. The only time I ever complained about my old neighbors in the city during the day was when they were screaming obscenities in front of all the neighborhood children. So as long as the little darlings aren’t out screaming all night, I would not complain.

  14. Karen@FamilyBriefs.com Says:

    Our kids can be loud too (I often send them outside BECAUSE they are so loud :). We invite the neighbors’ kids over a lot - that means we have six screaming banshees running around the backyard. But my kids are in bed around 7:30 - I can’t imagine them playing loudly in a pool after 9 pm! But I do think kids should be allowed the opportunity to run and frolic, and be loud.

  15. TalCatt Says:

    Here’s a link (below) to an video news story about it. They play a couple second clip of the girls screaming. I can’t imagine living next to this family with that kind of constant screaming and I have five kids.


  16. Brigitte Says:

    I couldn’t find the audio clip on that news story, but can it really have been non-stop? I’d think the kids would blow out their vocal chords!

    I have to admit I’d be highly irritated, and I think they should shut up by 7:00 or 8:00, but like Mary Ann’s town, ours has certain hours where anything goes. Just be patient, the kids grow up and stop EVENTUALLY.

    I keep thinking of when I was a kid, the neighbor complained to my mom several times about the 4 of us kids making so much noise . . then went on to have 4 boys of her own that made far more noise than we could have ever hoped to generate! heh heh heh!

  17. Deanna Says:

    I am actually a mother of seven and a homeschooling mom as well. When we moved into out new neighborhood, we took the time to introduce outselves to some folks that run a daycare behind our house. We just wanted to make sure that they didn’t have any special needs reagarding my children out in our backyard, and the children that they watch. As it turned out, our naptimes are the same, so no problem there. I do agree that children do need space and some freedom to “be children”, but not to the extent that they think of themselves as the only people in the world that matter. Our games get pretty loud, obviously, but I have been trying to teach my kids that screaming is only allowed if they are hurt. It’s hard to tell the difference when they are playing. Someone out there may always be offended no matter what you do, but at least we can say we tried. Chris, I enjoyed your article in Good Housekeeping, which led me to your site!! Thanks!!

  18. Christina Says:

    I was just thinking about this yesterday as our neighbor is home with a brand new baby and probably trying to sleep a lot during the day while all of ours are awake during the day and playing out in our backyard a lot. We have worked hard to get rid of the “shrieking” that can come along with playing unless they see a snake or someone is bleeding, plus we do still have quiet time at our house. I don’t worry so much about it if it’s during “normal” hours as I know most of our neighbors are gone at work all day anyway we have the street to ourselves most of the time thru the week. I can understand the lawsuit, I’ve had to deal with rude and inconsiderate parents who think their children can do no wrong; I understand the frustration. But then I also receive many rude stares simply because I am out with 3 kids (only 3!) and people want me to know they think it’s wrong to have more than 1 kid.

  19. t in hd Says:

    I only have three but they can raise hell in the back garden and it can really start to get to me, so I can only imagine how much the neighbours must enjoy it. :-( On the one hand, they are outside and should be able to be louder and roudier out there than in the house. On the other though, well, there are limits, you know?

  20. Michelle Says:

    Very interesting. I’m like you, if it were my kids I’d intervene after awhile and tell them to be respectful. I like peace and quiet and I’m sure my neighbors do too. I think within a certain time frame, it’s ok to be louder than normal outside, not insanely loud but louder than if you were inside. Like was said, after dinner though, time to be more quiet.

  21. Susan Says:

    I totally agree with Jim, as well. I don’t think enough parents anymore teach their children to “Do unto others…” — it seems like a very self-centered, inconsiderate society in a lot of ways.

    I agree that kids can be kids, but I would do as you do, Chris–let them have their fun for some periods of time and then remind them that others are trying to enjoy their day, as well. Nothing wrong with teaching them some consideration and respect for others.

  22. PinkPowerSuit Says:

    Good point someone made about the drowning.

    I have four kids myself and I sympathize with the neighbors. I can’t wait to move into our new house, in part, because there will be more kids around us than there currently is and I always feel self-concious around my one neighbor that my kids are too noisy and they aren’t even noisy kids!

  23. IH Says:

    To the person who beleives children should be tolerated to be loud: I do have the same problem with these type of kids. I understand that many times a kid behaves like that because he he/she has attention issues or hypertension. Whatever it is, why do I have to be part of the problem? Are you saying it is ok to be loud and disrespect others just because you are misguiding your children? Make your own children retarded or whatever, dont tell me I have to listen to that all day long! What if I get me some loud speakers and play my music all day long would you tolerate that?

    My god some people are just into the “nuts” business.

  24. christina milian Says:

    christina milian…

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