Beach love, family, Flat living, Parenting, Rant

Is Living In A Flat With A Child “Selfish” Parenting?


Have you seen the story doing the rounds about a couple in America who were sent an anonymous letter accusing them of being “selfish” for raising their two boys in an upstairs flat?

The typed note, clearly from a neighbour, says “shame on you” for not having a “yard” with “a swingset” or “trike to ride when they want to”. Because obviously a house with a garden is not only the dream but also attainable for everyone.

There are many reasons why people live in flats. From a lifestyle choice to the financial benefits and lots in between. And, of course, ultimately it’s no one else’s business – unless you’re the phantom, judgemental letter writer, who has made it so.

Apparently the “selfish” parents want to live near the beach and that’s why they are living in a apartment. If that’s the case, I don’t blame them. How lovely to bring up children with the beach on the doorstep. The chance to play in the sand, paddle in the sea/ocean and enjoy the fresh air as often as they want. Surely that trumps a “yard”? Even with a swingset (which nearby parks should also provide).

Does Freya miss out by not having a garden? Actually I would say she benefits, if anything, because we go out and explore more. Plus she gets a different swingset at each – even better!

From a parenting point of view we give her the best life, filled with things we things are important, we can –  and living in a flat enables us to do that. I’m sure the American couple are the same, at least according to the news reports which followed the note being revealed. I don’t think you can ask for much more than that?

Personally, I don’t think this letter is about “selfish” parenting at all; it is something entirely different.


I get it, I do. I’ve seen it from both sides.

Having lived in flats for more than a decade, I know how cross I used to get at being woken up – although in my case it was by adults who should know better, not children. Did I write nasty letters? No, I bought earplugs and got on with my life.

Unless you can afford a detached house, you will always have neighbours – in a flat you just have more of them. We obviously try and keep the noise to acceptable levels – especially in communal areas – although children now call all but two flats (one is empty) in our block home and so we are all roughly in the same (loud) boat. I actually quite like the noise, it feels comforting to know there are always people about and I think I would really struggle in a house.

I bet the letter writing neighbour has been disturbed by the children but they can’t really complain about that so they are attacking the parents (and making themself look ridiculous in the process).

The letter ends: “I don’t know this but I doubt either of you had to grow up in these conditions.”

These conditions? A loving home, with an entire beach as a playground. If they didn’t, I’m sure they wish they did!

What do you think? Is flat living only for people without children?




14 thoughts on “Is Living In A Flat With A Child “Selfish” Parenting?”

  1. No way! Not everyone wants large homes with big yards. They might prefer to spend more time with their children and less time cleaning and gardening. Not everyone can afford more than an apartment and don’t want to go into massive debt or live beyond their means, which would not benefit their children.
    I have had really annoying neighbours when I have lived in apartments so I do get the noise argument but if your neighbours are considerate and also understanding with each other it could be quite nice to live close by to other people.


  2. I’ve always fancied living in a flat ever since I was a child. We used to stay in a flat when we went on holiday to Devon when I was a girl. I would have quite happily lived in one without any thought to not having a garden. Like you say there’s the beach – better than any garden. As for swingsets, they’re a five minute novelty. Most children soon abandon them once they’ve had unrestricted access to them for a couple of weeks.

    Some new houses near us have a garden, they’re family homes. Their garden fence is practically on the hard shoulder of the M62. I would much rather my children live in a flat somewhere nice than play in a garden where they breathe in carbon monoxide every time they go out.


    1. I’ve lived here for more than a decade now and I really like it. We are lucky in that Freya has her own room (not that she sleeps in it) and we have a balcony so she has a sandpit and her trike out there so we have a bit more space. I completely agree about living near all that pollution, I probably wouldn’t even want her to play out there!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s the reason I’ve always wanted a flat – for the balcony, I would be in my element watching the world go by 😊


  3. Hi Tara, what a totally ludicrous belief! Why on earth is it cruel bring a child up in a flat? I can’t believe some nosy parker would even write such a letter, they have just made themselves look so stupid (I’d like to think they are hanging their head in shame, but I very much doubt it).

    At the end of the day, it’s the environment a child is brought up in that matters. It’s knowing they are loved and cherished that counts. It’s having enough food on the table and a roof over their heads that counts. It’s having parents that care that counts. Not whether or not a child lives in a house with a garden and swing set. That’s just material stuff and I have no doubt there are children that have been bought up in a house, with a garden and swing set that are pretty unhappy.

    I think whoever wrote the letter should take up knitting or scrabble!



  4. When my daughter was born we lived in a flat and I love that she honed her walking techniques in the town park which was on our doorstep. Now I’m back in a flat with my 15 year old son with me half the time, and it still works. The fact that we have less space means we spend more time doing things together and I actually love having limited space. It makes me think more carefully about the difference between wanting and needing, and all feels so much more manageable. Jealous of your balcony though! Oh and apologies for the ramble, but really, what a narrow, first world view it is to suggest that everyone should have their own exclusive play space. How entitled, failing to recognise the fortune of having any roof at all, and ultimately the concept of play is improved by being communal isn’t it?


    1. That’s good to hear, Caz, thank you. Who knows where we will be when Freya is 15 but I don’t think I’d mind too much if we are still here.


  5. Hi there. Just randomly found your blog and thought this post was interesting because we live in a flat (called condos in Canada) with our 3 year old and have been mulling over whether we need to move out into a house soon. Whether we are being unfair to our child for not giving her a backyard and ample space to ride around on her toys. But here’s the thing, there are several pros to being a condo depending on where it’s located. We live in a happening area with tons of restaurants and parks and splashpads.Tons of festivals and fairs happen in the area. We make an active effort to get out of the apartment and go to these things BECAUSE we don’t have a backyard. We are physically close to each other in a small space instead of everyone being in their own little room. There are downsides to being in a condo but it certainly does not make for a less enriched or loving life for our child 🙂


    1. Hello! I completely agree. It sounds like we are in very similar situations (apart from being in different countries). I certainly don’t feel like Freya is missing out by living in a flat. Like you, we make an active effort to get out and do things and I don’t think we would do it as much if we just had a back garden. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Lovely to meet you 🙂


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