“A Walk through the Neighborhood,” Ensign, July 1987, 49
One summer evening several years ago I observed a neighbor and her husband out walking with their children. I noticed that they would pause for a moment in front of each house on the street. One of the parents would speak for a few moments with the children, then they would all move on to the next house, repeating the process.
Curious, I mentioned to the mother a few days later that I had noticed them and couldn’t help wondering what they were doing. I have never forgotten her reply. “Oh,” she said, “we decided for family home evening to take our children for a walk around the neighborhood and talk to them about what wonderful neighbors we have. On our way, we stopped in front of each house and told what we liked about the family who lives there.
“We pointed out to the children things that would help them gain increased appreciation for these people. Since we live in such a great neighborhood, we told the children we need to make sure that we contribute by being good neighbors also. We talked about how hard we will work to make sure that we are the same kind of friends that we have around us.”
I have thought about this incident many times over the years. As a result, I have thought about a neighbor’s beautiful yard, another’s good homemaking skills, and yet another’s cheerful disposition. As I have noticed these qualities and have expressed my interest in these neighbors, I have felt richer.
Although our friends have since moved from our area, their example is still with us. Our neighborhood is one where individuals and families feel safe—not just from physical harm or property damage, but safe from character assassination by the thoughtless gossip of others. A caring attitude prevails here. When a family is away from home for a time, neighbors watch their property as carefully as if it were their own. Our children walk to school, play, study, and worship together, and parents work together, helping each other when the occasion allows. Neighborhood “get-togethers” occur quite often, and occasionally, we even have a family night together.
Every neighborhood has its good points. Leadership can be exerted to enhance these good qualities and to arouse one another’s appreciation for a fine environment.
Parents could do well to emulate the example of those friends who first took the initiative during a home evening to share their appreciation for their neighbors with their children. In doing so, they will influence more than their own children. They will make their neighborhoods better places to live. And as their children grow up, they will continue to notice and appreciate the best qualities they see in the lives of others.