expression, “if these walls could talk” urges us to imagine that the houses
and buildings we inhabit store the memories of life.
In truth, our homes say a
great deal about us. They reflect
our taste, our interests and our level of happiness. If
walls could talk in your home, what do you suppose they’d say? Here are
a few questions to ask yourself:
Is your home user-friendly to all of its inhabitants? As you look around your home, consider whether everyone in the family is treated as an equal citizen? Is this a home where family members are allowed to be comfortable or is there an invisible sign that reads, “reserved for company”? Is everyone free to enjoy the communal space or are major parts of the house off-limits? Does one person make all of the rules or are all family members invited to share in that responsibility? As you look around, observe whether family pictures and other signs of life occupy a prominent place in your home or whether they are stored away.
Are family members afforded individual privacy? It is natural for people to need both time with others, and time alone. Similarly, people like to gather in common family spaces, but they also need their own private space. What is the meaning of privacy in your home?
In some homes, respect for individuality is shown by allowing kids and grown-ups the freedom to use their space in a way that reflects their personality and their uniqueness. Their space is truly their own. They are free to decorate as they please and family members respect each other’s privacy through such courtesies as “knocking before entering” . In other homes, people may be assigned their own rooms but privacy is not allowed. Unfortunately, when adults and children are told exactly how they may and may not decorate, we miss an opportunity to learn how they think and how they see the world. Most likely, everyone needs their own private space, whether it is a bedroom, an office or a workshop, to define who they really are.
What words describe the emotional climate of your home? If walls could speak, would they describe your home as peaceful or hostile, friendly or unfriendly, welcoming or exclusive? Is the environment usually calm or stressful, loud or quiet, formal or informal, predictable or unpredictable? Finally, how would those walls rate the happiness of its inhabitants? Is this a household where people have fun and show their love for each other, or does this family labor beneath the looming question of how long family members will remain?
One difference between a house and a home is the energy of people. Realtors have long recognized the importance of selling a home while it is still occupied. When people vacate a house, it is as though they are disassembling its personality and eco-system. A warm environment quickly grows cold, smells of family life become noticeably stale, and rooms become stripped of their integrity. On an interpersonal level, it is possible to rob the family of its energy without moving a thing, Sometimes spouses remain physically present but become emotionally vacant.
Home can be a
place of great security or insecurity.
Think of the feeling you get upon arriving back at home. Do you enter
the premises with a feeling of joy and a sigh of relief or do you prepare
yourself to walk upon eggshells? Is your home a place where you feel
accepted and valued, or is it filled with landmines of criticism, just
waiting to blow up? Are you more often happy to be home or anxious to leave
The task of living together in a family is an awesome task. It requires that we find a way to fit together the needs of everyone who lives in the household, pets included. As parents, our challenge is to do just a little better job of raising our own children than our parents did with theirs. Ideally, responsible parents will sit down together and develop their own set of guidelines for creating a home and raising their family. So… what would the walls of your house say?
©Copyright, 2002, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
Return to Family Relationships
Return to Table of Contents