The "Family Home" important or not ?

(26 Posts)
batsforlashes Mon 21-May-12 07:43:13


Interested to get some views on the importance of having a family home ( ie a home that you own and that your children will look back on in years to come as an anchor of their childhood.) I ask this in the context of having recently moved abroad and left what we thought was the forever house behind. For long and complicated reasons we may not be able to return to that house and not buy another home where we are now- ie we will be long term renters.

My parents still live in the house I grew up in and even though I left home 2- years ago, I still feel such a strong emotional connection to the place.
Obviously it is not the most important part of growing up- but the loss of this ideal is a big issue for me.



OP’s posts: |
bunnyfrance Mon 21-May-12 07:54:56

Interesting question, one which I've also thought about from time to time. I moved continents at the age of 21 - my parents turned "my" room into a B&B almost immediately, so it wasn't really my room anymore. Didn't really bother me, to be honest. Then a few years later they sold the family home and emigrated themselves. I remember feeling quite sad when they did, but soon got over it. "Home" is now where I'm living, having been in a foreign country for over 15 years. It always amuses me when people ask whether I'm going "'home" for Christmas or the summer - I answer that I go home every evening....
So, in short, my experience is that people are what matter, not buildings.

mumblechum1 Mon 21-May-12 07:58:20

I agree with bunnyfrance, home is wherever I happen to be living at the time. We've relocated umpteen times with dh's job but have now been in the same house for the last 13 years. If he were relocated tomorrow I wouldn't look back at these bricks and mortar with any particular feeling, people are far more important.

RillaBlythe Mon 21-May-12 08:31:03

I've thought about this too. I lived in 4 houses in the same city when I was growing up. My parents recently sold the last house I lived with them in, & live somewhere else now (still within the same city!). I didn't mind saying goodbye to "my" bedroom. My grandparents on the other hand have lived in the same house for the past 60 years. I have the same take as the previous posters, home is where I am/where my people are.

batsforlashes Mon 21-May-12 08:50:18

I am thinking of it more in context of your children future memories of growing up- yes for me now, home is where my Dh and my kids are but perhaps this is two separate questions 1) living in lots of different houses growing up 2) can you ever feel at home in a rented house, however nice it is.

OP’s posts: |
bunnyfrance Mon 21-May-12 10:43:50

Well, I can only draw on my own experience - by the time I was seven, I had lived in seven different places. So no, I don't think the DC wouldn't be missing out on anything. In any case, they can't miss something they haven't known, can they!

As for the renting question, I suppose that yes, it will never feel as much "yours" as somewhere you have bought. It's a big cultural question, though - owning your own home is a huge deal in the UK, whereas in much of Europe, many people rent. As far as I know, in Germany it's something like 60% of the population.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Mon 21-May-12 14:04:22

can you ever feel at home in a rented house, however nice it is.?

Course you can- home is wherever my family/stuff is at the time. I love renting. It's so much more flexible- it means you can always live somewhere that suits your priorities at that time. I see it as one of the big upsides of expat life. However, by my own admission I am not one of these people who is really into interiors etc so I don't really care that every single LL in HK goes for cream walls and mid brown wooden floors and hasn't refitted the bathroom since avocado suites were all the fashion.

I've only lived in our current apartment for 3 weeks and already it totally feels like home.


sommewhereelse Tue 22-May-12 11:18:15

I think it's the people who make it. My father still has the home I grew up in but it's not the same place for me because his new family live in it and the atmosphere is totally different.

laptopwieldingharpy Tue 22-May-12 11:34:19

I also grew up on the expat trail and have very fond memories of places, faces but the childhood homes are a bit of a blur.
I remember vivid lights from a chandelier at a celebration or the light of very cold or very hot mornings through some windows etc....

I think what was most important was that my parents somehow managed to keep a strong cultural anchoring at home during the year + develop a sense of belonging by going back to our country of origin every summer. Houses filled with family, sleepovers, late weekend lunches, neighbors, the local bakery, bookshop, markets etc.....

I don't mind at all renting, but am a bit house proud and sadly it proves a costly exercise!

Thatisnotitatall Tue 22-May-12 12:36:38

Our family home is a rented house in Germany, we've lived here 5 years, as the DC are aged 6, 4 and 1 it is the only home they know and the fact that it's rented has no meaning to a child... Definitely we (and more importantly they) feel totally at home in a rented house - the only reason they wouldn't is if we weren't allowed to personalise it and were constantly jumpy about any signs of wear and tear occurring (will need to repaint when we move so not bothered any more than we would be if we owned), or if there was constant talk of moving and the home being temporary, so I think it's more about how you treat and think of the house than whether you (or probably the bank) own it...

The frequent moving is a different question, I personally think that is vastly more likely to have an impact than whether you own a house, but depending on DC's characters and how the moves are handled and viewed by adults the impact could I guess be good or bad... It also depends how frequent and at what stage of the child's education, but I think any rented house can become home relatively quickly if you are able to bring furniture and possessions, all the same people live in the house, and nobody is on edge about keeping the place in showroom condition because you'll be moving in a year and don't want to have to redecorate...

Longtime Tue 22-May-12 13:06:32

Hmmm, I've lived in Belgium for 27 years now, five more than I lived in England. When I go back there, it's to the same house and I sleep in my old bedroom. I love this! It feels comfortable and yes, "home", though of course I feel at home in my own house in which I've lived for 22 years.

I have a friend whose parents sold the family home and he now says he feels like a visitor when he's there.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Tue 22-May-12 13:15:46

Maybe something that helps is that where I live (and I think in most countries ex-UK) you generally rent properties completely unfurnished, so you have all your own furniture/ curtains/pictures/ kitchen stuff and nothing of the LL's apart from the built in furniture.

Also, the rent basically includes a level of trashing that would lose you your deposit in the UK- e.g. the LL expects to completely repaint and redo the floors at the end of the lease, and you can put whatever you like on the walls so long as you pull the nails out and polyfilla the holes for them.

My parents moved out of our "family home" when I was 28. I really like their new house. I dont have "my own bedroom" obviously but even at the old house, once I was an adult I used to sleep in the "spare room" as it had a double bed and an ensuite, so no change really.

xkcdfangirl Tue 22-May-12 13:33:26

I lived in more than a dozen houses growing up, and it's always struck me as weird and unusual when friends talk about the house their parents are in now as being the same as the one they grew up in.

My parents now live in a house that I never lived in, they moved here a couple of years after I left home, but a family home is made by the people in it, and the mementos scattered around. We all come here for Christmas and it wasn't very long before it started feeling just as much a family home as if we had grown up here.

I think it's right to have the house that works for you as you are now. Trying to have a single house as a "forever" house will just mean that sooner or later you will be having to heat, dust and pay council tax on far more space than you actually honestly need.

Thatisnotitatall Tue 22-May-12 14:53:14

My parents still live in the house they moved to when I was 7. I haven't thought of it as "home" since I left university at the latest, especially once I bought my own flat (rather than living in a shared house) that was absolutely where my sense of home was (even though I lived there alone) right from then I always felt really very irritated by my mother referring to her house as my "home" - I actually found it mildly humiliating, as if my own home was of not "real" and I was still a dependant child... but perhaps that's just me, I know it is a normal way for older parents to talk... Still, like Bunnyface my response to "when are you coming home?" is "I am home".

My parents have also made a lot of changes to the house, upstairs especially it is very different to the way it was when I lived there - they have merged the bedroom my sister had with the one I had and a bathroom to create themselves one massive master bedroom with ensuite. That's all good, and in fact healthy - keeping the bedrooms of adult children as they were seems a tiny bit creepy/ unhealthy really...

I have no real urge to go back to my parents house, and if they sold it I'm afraid it would mean nothing to me except that my mother had been kidnapped by aliens and replaced grin as she loves that house more than anything in the world I think...

Hopandaskip Tue 22-May-12 15:21:24

eh, I lived in several houses growing up and one for only 6 months (we were on sabbatical abroad). Each one felt like home when we were in it and still does when I look back or visit. My parents moved across country when I was an adult and that didn't bother me in the slightest. As the eldest daughter I also gave up my bigger and nicer room to my sister when I went to college, it only seemed fair to have the smaller room when I was only going to be back for holidays.

We sold our house in Britain when we moved here. Only my eldest remembers it (he was almost three when we moved) and he doesn't miss it. In fact he has always been very adaptable and will even call a hotel 'home' if we are there for a week or more. We did buy a house here in the states, but only because we hate renting and ended up staying here.

Longtime Wed 23-May-12 09:05:53

Thatisnotitatall, I doubt many parents (if any) keep their children's bedrooms as they were. I still sleep in my old room but it now has a double and single bed in it with various posters that my dd likes (nothing from when I was there!). I still love going there though and sleeping in that room.

Thatisnotitatall Wed 23-May-12 11:45:39

Longtime my DH's parents have, except that they've added a cot in the corner which our DC have used a few times (was the cot DH and his brothers had as babies) and MIL has added a few of her superbly tacky ornaments and DH'S class and first communion photos hmm . They even have his teenage posters on his wall still and his ancient computer in there, and even some of his clothes from his late teens/ early 20s still lurking in the wardrobe!

My mothers' parents had kept her and her brothers rooms fairly much as they both left them too, furniture and decor wise, though without the clothes and that kind of possession, and my parents had left my and my sisters' rooms untouched (out of inertia I suspect) until they decided to do building work and knock walls down and totally remodel from a 5 to a 3 bed upstairs!

My best friend from uni was also upset when her parents sold the family home, as "her" room was also as she'd left it til they sold the house. She was younger though when they sold up, and it was only a couple of years after she finished uni. It isn't that unusual.

Really by left as it was in my previous post though I didn't mean shrine-like, just the same "teenagers room" layout with a single bed, homework desk or whatever etc.

ripsishere Wed 23-May-12 12:12:49

Personally I don't think it's important.
DD and I moved 'home' last year. She and I are living in the NW, a place I had no connection to before we moved here. DH is from Manchester, so it's closer to where he grew up and his family, but still around 40 miles away.
DD has moved to five different countries and lived in eight different houses/flats.
Home is where your family are, not your childhood home. I had 18 different ones of those, so maybe I am not the one to advise.
DD is a happy content little girl - as far as her jangling hormones will allow her to be.

NoGoodGirlo Wed 23-May-12 23:08:15

Although we never moved internationally my parents moved every year or so as my Mother had itchy feet all of the time. I was sent to boarding school and to be honest that became my home. When I left boarding school at 18 I was devastated.

I now live overseas and go back to the UK a couple of times a year. The house that I visit is just yet another of the many that my parents have lived in. I am determined to provide my DC with a stronger sense of home, somewhere that they will want to comeback to for holidays and special occasions.

I really, really feel like I missed out by not having a "family home."

mockingjay Thu 24-May-12 06:23:14

When I was a child we moved about a lot. I now know some of those places we owned, some we rented. I had no idea at the time which was which. So from a child's point of view renting doesn't make it any less of a home.

DrunkenDoxy Thu 24-May-12 06:36:43

I think it does matter. We are moving back to the UK this afternoon and I have worked my fingers to the bone to get my depoait back, even regrouting the kitchen. I feel really uncomfortable being a landlord and a tenant - both are sources of stress. But the idea of moving back somehwre where we dont have to watch every mark, every tiny bit of damage will be an enormous relief as will being able to wallpaper a few rooms.
I want my son to grow up with even alot of the same furniture that we had as a child and Im sure we will be much more relaxed living in the house ive owned for 15 years than in a rented ikea showhome.
Ultimately though, kids only need stability - we have moved four times in four years and this time we are committed to saying put for a few years.

BonnieBumble Thu 24-May-12 06:44:38

I lived in the same home from when I was born until I left home. I honestly don't think that it is that important. When my mum decided to downsize it didn't bother me in the slightest, the memories are in my
head, I don't need to physically go there.

I was having this conversation with a friend recently, she lives in an old 6 storey house that really would be most unsuitable for old age . She was saying that she will have to
make modifications to the house when she is older because she can't sell it because it is the "family home". I was perplexed by this.

When I retire I intend on buying a little maintenance free retirement flat. We aren't in our "forever home" I expect to move (in the same area) once or twice during the children's childhood so maybe that's why I feel the way I do.

Bonsoir Sun 27-May-12 07:08:51

I think that it is important for children to move house during their childhood in order to broaden their horizons. The important anchor of childhood is stable, supportive family relationships, not a house.

Windandsand Sun 27-May-12 19:53:41

My family home would have been full of unhappy memories so I think it's the family in it that makes it.
However, my dh family have had the same house for ever, and dh loves to go back, full of happy memories... The woods we played in, the bathroom window you can climb in... smile

We have moved so many times as expats- I want them to have what dh has but sadly it's not possible right now due to dh job.

Longtime Sun 27-May-12 22:54:12

Bonsoir, it's not always possible to move house though. We bought our house when ds1 was 18 months old. We actually would have like to have moved but stamp duty equivalent is 12.5% here in Belgium so we can't afford to.

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