Family home: who sleeps where and why?

On vacation or weekends in the family home, the allocation of rooms revives old quarrels. Decryption of a ritual where each one tests the parental love and evaluates its place in the lineage.

Ségolène Barbé

"My mother has always preferred my brother, is sad Mathilde, 48. In our family home, he is entitled to the most beautiful room while I must, even when he does not come, just sit at the desk under the stairs, sometimes I feel like Cinderella ... I try to make my mother confess that the room allocation order corresponds to the order of preference of her children, but I do not think she will ever say it. "

The ritual of staying in the family home reveals old rivalries: we disembark for a weekend or vacation, full of good intentions, persuaded that "the main thing is to be together", and then we find ourselves quibbling for stories of rooms. To the friends who envy us this haven of family reunions, we dare not confess the trivial questions that pollute our stay: who has the best view? the private bathroom? the king size bed? the most central room of the house? And why do these logistical details affect us as much?

A history of preferences

When gauging the "territory" attributed by our parents, it is obviously the strength of their love that we test. "I try to make logical choices, says Geneviève, 65 years old, mother of three grown children, I put my eldest son on the first floor, next to his children and not too far from the living room and the kitchen, my last two, in the attic, so that they would not be awakened by their nephews and nieces ... "

Behind these official criteria, children sometimes believe in discerning others, less admirable." Of course parents do not like all their children in the same way, but that's impossible to say. This would be too much of a question for them, says Suzanne Czernichow, psychoanalyst and family therapist.The allocation of rooms can be a way to show one's preferences, but also to deny them: the most beautiful is sometimes given by guilt, to fix." Jealousée, this room is also not necessarily the most "comfortable". "The one who is privileged has an unconscious debt to the family, homework that others do not have, analyzes psychosociologist Perla Serfaty -Garzon ( At home, the territories of intimacy, Tired of being the fairy of the home - paradoxes of today's woman , Armand Colin, 2003 and 2008). is like in the poor homes where the room is left to the student, who carries the hope of the family.

A question of place

"When we feel a sense of injustice during the distribution of rooms, it is often that it was already there before, estimates the psychotherapist Christine Ulivucci.It may be interesting to see how we were welcomed into the family: did the elder have the best room, then reinvested by the second? Did one have to leave one's room to make room for a newborn? to sleep in a living room or space without privacy? ... "A little like the places we inherit at the family table, the return to the nest is an opportunity to confront his status within the family." I see the house a little like a body, with the heart where live the vital members of the tribe, my elder sister and brother; and then the others, of which I am part, more peripheral, less important, "coldly summarizes Karine, 28.

With the portrait of the grandfather on the wall, the wardrobe inherited from the grandmother, the room opens a gateway to the past, it links us to a lineage, to a story, to the figures that have preceded us. " My room is small, a little dark but I will not give in for anything, says Lætitia, 34 years old. It was that of an uncle I admired a lot: there are still his books, I like to think he slept there before me. "" In the family home or in our childhood, we question its origins, its roots, "recalls Christine Ulivucci, who are born there, or whose parents tell them that they were conceived, feel perhaps more legitimate than others.The law of blood prevails there. on that of the soil: even years after their arrival in the family, the "patches" still bear their name. " When my daughter was born, I installed her in my child's room, says Sophie, 40 years old. My aunt was furious: she said it was her children's, since they had occupied her after me. But it's good for me that my grandparents had chosen the wallpaper, the bed ... Finally, I was successful, she took in the face she is only a patch while I am a girl of the house. "

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