What Makes Your House a Home?

When we in 2007 moved out of the house we had lived in for over 30 years, we didn’t feel truly “at home” until an unusual argument erupted in the new house.

Do we devote at least as much time and energy in truly caring for each other as we do in caring for the house?

It happened at Christmas that year when the kids were all back home in our new house. A noisy argument erupted from a bedroom where two of our girls were sharing space for the holiday (and before any of our daughters were married).

2013ImportOf2011Photos 150Upon hearing the argument, my husband laughed heartily and said, “Now it sounds like home.” Thankfully, the argument turned out to only be two daughters who (separately) got me the same Christmas gift. My husband loves to tell this story.

The old truism is a house does not make a home. It is the people located inside the bricks, mortar, joists, and drywall who make up the home and family.

Most of us put enormous energy and money into maintaining the bricks and mortar: painting, landscaping, cleaning, straightening, making sure all the plumbing, electrical, and heating/cooling systems are working. Those who rent put enormous money into paying someone else to do some of these things for them.

Late last fall we had a contractor haul dirt and grade slopes for a driveway that we had installed in 2013. As we worked raking, removing rocks, planting grass, raking some more, putting down straw, and finally watering the seeds for seven to 10 days, I thought again about how much hard work it takes to be a homeowner. Luckily for us, we had a warm and wet fall and an unseasonably warm December, so the part-rye grass has sprouted wonderfully.

From the smallest mobile home, to a room or corner in someone’s basement, to a student apartment or townhouse, to a retirement apartment or room, to a multimillion-dollar mansion, family and personal happiness is derived from something other than what kind of four walls surround you. Of course, life is easier and happiness more accessible when living in comfortable quarters. No one wants to live in a place where water and mold seep in and rats run across your children as they sleep. But we all know that a happy family is not contingent on living in a McMansion.

Therefore it makes sense to also put time, energy, and money into the internal stuff: the family, whatever its shape. Do we devote at least as much time and energy in truly caring for each other as we do in caring for the house: spending time together, talking, playing, eating, relaxing, and, yes, working? Working together as a family, if done well, is a time-tested function of the family that produces excellent multifaceted rewards: work is accomplished, children learn helpful skills, children’s self-esteem is boosted by real achievements, conversations occur, bonds form, memories are made.

Parents often justify many hours of chauffeuring kids to multiple sports activities for the discipline, hard work, and teamwork that can come out of organized sports, without even recognizing that we also need to emphasize these same rewards can result from working together at home. That’s not to say working together is easy: jobs poorly done or not at all; short-tempered parents or uncooperative children; too high of expectations, injuries, or spilled paint.

Shaping a family requires dedication, good information and resources, and willingness to pace the floor at 2 a.m. with a sleepless infant. It requires discipline to hang in there and enforce the rules and guidelines you’ve established, and wisdom to know when and how to bend the rules. It takes adults: hopefully not children raising children. If parents are young chronologically, then it takes adult behavior and attitudes, and willingness to sacrifice for the children. We call this nurturing a child.


For a free booklet, write for “Keeping Family First.” Send your request to MelodieD@MennoMedia.org or Another Way, 1251 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802.