Parents Mold Future Homeowners, Consciously or Not

By Bill Primavera

The Home Guru

As far as I know, there is no research to support my observations and thoughts about how parents and their relationship to their homes influence the eventual choices of their children in the kind of home they choose and the kind of household they run.

But I must share a recent experience that had me thinking about this subject and drawing my own conclusions.

Last week I responded to a call from a homeowner who asked me to prepare a comparative market analysis on her home which, with five young children, she feared she had outgrown.

When I arrived, I was greeted at the front door by a six-year-old boy and his younger sister who told me their names and invited me into the house, the young man politely holding the door open for me.  Once inside, I was given a tour of the house by the owner, but it very much involved  the children as well, each proudly identifying which bedroom was his or hers. And when I sat with the owners at the dining room table to discuss whether it was advisable to sell and relocate at this time, three of the children were present, an older son looking over his mother’s shoulder as she did the math for such a move. 

Because I kept thinking about this special family after I left, I called the owner and told her how impressed I was that her children were involved with the process of deciding whether to stay or go.  I asked what else her children might do to contribute to home life. “Oh, all of my children have their chores to do,” she said. “They are responsible for vacuuming their own bedrooms, placing their clothes in the hamper, doing outside garden work and other things. I think it makes them appreciate and value what they have.”

Detached from our agrarian roots for more than 100 years and having lived our lifetime in relative prosperity, most of us would probably say that household chores assigned to children no longer seems  to be a requirement in developing character and responsibility. My observation is that today this tends to come more from after school activities, except for larger families whose children really have to pitch in to keep parents sane in running a household.

But I suspect that most times we assume our parents’ habits in housekeeping as well as preferences in the types of houses we ourselves choose, even if unconsciously.

For instance, I’ve been working with a young couple for more than a year looking for that perfect house. His family home was a raised ranch and hers was a split. Every time we looked at a house, it was either one of those two designs and each of them always preferred the style home in which they were raised. (And they just signed a contract for a split, so her favored style prevailed).

Today, I see old school values along with those where kids get a free pass with household involvement, but I’m convinced that, much like an animal who knows how to raise her young based on her own nurturing, we learn about our future home preferences and housekeeping habits by example from our parents. 

For example, I have a seller client who built an elaborate dollhouse from scratch for his seven-year-old daughter and, as she proudly took me on a tour of the house and all its miniature furnishings, it was as though it were full-sized and ready for her to move into. Most interesting was the fact that the dollhouse looked uncannily like the residence it occupied.

The mother was teaching her son how to cook in an exquisitely designed and equipped kitchen, featuring a large commercial stove. As I watched him prepare an omelet, this great nine year old announced that this was the kind of stove that are for restaurants and he was going to have one just like it when he had his own home.

On my own home front, my daughter wasn’t interested in either dollhouses or cooking, and she was not assigned any household chores, but she saw the example of her mother as a perfect homemaker and became one herself. And, just as she was raised in an antique home, she is raising her son in an old farmhouse as well. “It isn’t as though it was a requirement to live in an old house,” she told me, “but my own growing up experience made me open to the idea.

While most of our children no longer contribute to household chores and might rarely comment on how they appreciate the kind of home they inhabit, it’s always interesting to encounter buyers who want a home just like the one in which they were raised.

Bill Primavera is a licensed Realtor® affiliated with Coldwell Banker and a lifestyles journalist who writes regularly as The Home Guru. Visit his website at: and, if you would like to consult with him about buying or selling a home, contact him directly at 914-522-2076.