Writing in The Guardian, in a section called ‘the letter you always wanted to write’, the anonymous dad explained that he and his wife are childless by choice, but the noise from their neighbour's three-year-old daughter has put a “strain” on their relationship.
“My wife and I are childless through choice, but we have never judged anyone’s decision to become parents,” the writer says. “This was tested to the limit when we moved in next door to you, only a few days before your daughter was born.”
The husband says the couple “have some experience of what it would be like to be new parents.”
“We know how it feels to be woken several times a night by what, at that hour, has the effect on the nerves of a fire alarm.”
The couple’s biggest complaint seems to be that their neighbours chose to keep their daughter in the master bedroom, which meant they only had a single layer of brick protecting them from the “nightly screaming.”
“Her protracted wailing cost us dozens of hours of sleep at a time when our careers were stressful and demanding. It placed an unwelcome strain on our own relationship, and soured our enjoyment of our new home,” he continues.
While the couple acknowledge the difficulties associated with parenting young children, they are upset they haven’t ever received an apology from the neighbours, who are expecting their second child, for the disruption to their lives.
“You never apologised, or even mentioned it. I saw no evidence you ever tried to mitigate the noise for our sake, by moving her to another room, say,” the letter continues.
“As callous as this may sound, the world doesn’t stop just because you’ve had a child. The people around you have their own lives to cope with, their own problems that they don’t inflict on others. To expect them to share your discomfort is deeply selfish,” the writer adds.
Since the letter was shared on The Guardian’s Facebook page it has gone viral and sparked a debate about who is in the right.
“We most certainly don’t live in a child worshipping culture. What entitled BS is this?” one user wrote. “If it was so bad why not seek friendly communication rather than expecting the new parents to keep you at the forefront of their minds as well?”
“Imagine how the parents felt,” another agreed. “You could have moved bedroom, you could have used earplugs. You could have developed a relationship with your neighbours who were clearly suffering far more than you. Thank heavens you won’t be having childran [sic].”
“Blows my mind this type of selfishness,” another user commented. “What happened to compassion, empathy and understanding...Buy a detached house from the proceeds of your highly stressed job if you don’t want disturbance.”
“This is just ridiculous!” yet another user commented. “Babies cry as a way of communicating - how can you complain about that? Why should they move their child to another room because of you? Buy some ear plugs and get over yourselves.”
But others could see things from the childless couple’s perspective.
“Amazing patience. I’d have definitely spoken to them and suggested they move the child to a room without a mutual wall,” one user offered.
“That's exactly what the author meant to say: parents really do believe that the world revolves around their child,” another user shared. “Well, no. You chose to have the child. You take responsibility. You knew it'd be hard work. No one asked you to have that baby. If it was really so hard then maybe you weren't meant to be a parent. The irony is that they're having another, so surely they can't have been at their wits' end all that much, eh?”
“The comments on here all seem to assume that the writer has a multi bedroom house/flat,” one user commented. “Sleep deprivation is awful so I feel sympathy for someone who’s stuck in a situation where they cannot get sleep for years through no choice of their own.
“Society often treats people who are disrupted by other people’s children as selfish but imagine if the neighbour was playing loud music - we’d all be saying this was unacceptable.”
What do you think? Who’s in the right?
In other parenting news, another debate is lighting up the Internet right now after a mum headed online to complain about her daughter’s part in the school nativity play.
The mum is objecting to the fact that her daughter has been given the role of 'Inn Keeper's Wife', claiming it is “sexist”.
Writing on parenting site Mumsnet, the woman explained that she was annoyed by the label of the role her six-year-old had been given because her daughter “shouldn't be identified by her relationship to a man.”