Do you resume childhood roles when back with family?

My beloved and respected uncle died last week and all the aunts, uncles and cousins converged on Philadelphia for the funeral.

I flew in Friday and my parents and brother drove up.  (Our spouses and kids didn’t go due to school and for me cost.) My original family (me, my parents and my brother) shared a hotel room just as we used to do when we were kids.

I think it’s always interesting to see how relationships have evolved or not evolved over time.  I find it very comforting and fun (even though it was a very SAD occasion) to be with my original foursome and to be with my cousins.

Before the trip, I was trying to convince my mom to switch hotels to be with all my cousins, and I discussed it with her twice to no avail. I finally called in the big guns – my brother. He called me back five minutes later and said go ahead and switch the hotels. He joked when he called back: She always loved me more.

Just like old times my brother and I sad in the backseat of the car complaining about my dad’s driving. We also managed to revive our old act of annoying my mom by goofing off while waiting for her to finish packing. (I guess that’s what my kids do.) We were packed and waiting so we sat in the little sitting room with my brother cracking jokes making me laugh. She declared she wasn’t traveling with us anymore.

So what happens when you are back with your childhood family unit? Do roles change? Do relationships change?  Would you stay with your original family unit in one hotel room?

17 comments Add your comment


January 22nd, 2013
7:49 am

No they don’t. I guess it’s because we are together so often. And I am the oldest. However, my brother seems to take more charge with the parents. I’m the “social organizer” I make the social plans, but when it comes to helping them around the house, fixing things here and there, my brother is their go-to.

And when we travel, we stay in a condo, so we all get our own bedrooms. Can’t remember the last time we all stayed in a hotel….

Voice of Reason

January 22nd, 2013
8:21 am

None of my siblings moved more than 30 minutes from our parents, who still live in the house that we all grew up in. So we are together often. My older sister is the planner, often butting heads with my wife, who is also a planner. My younger brother, if nothing else, could be considered the black sheep of the family and is very laid-back. I’m the middle child. I was also the first one in my immediate family to get a college degree and the only one who married and has children of my own. As a general rule, I let my sister handle things since she is the oldest but I will speak my mind if I feel the need.

There is no way we could all stay in one hotel room.


January 22nd, 2013
8:31 am

TWG…sorry for your loss.

I never stay in one hotel room with family members. I also rent my own car. I travel more than anyone in my family and consider myself more experienced in navigating such things. I do not stay in one hotel room with my family …too crowded. Two people max in a hotel room for me, since I have gotten older. We get two rooms or at least a suite.

I love a condo too but it is not always practical for a weekend trip. I am currently at a Homewood Suites in ABQ and it is very nice.

My Dad treats us like we are still 10 years old and thus we do not visit often. He does not even like us to be in his house when he is not there and certainly would not let us drive his car. I am NOT like this with my two! My son rides in the front, as he is tall and needs the leg room. Sometimes I ask my daughter to drive.

Family dynamics are interesting and I admire those families who enjoy each other’s company and respect their differences.


January 22nd, 2013
8:47 am

No. My dad passed away over a decade ago, and the family dynamic has never been the same.


January 22nd, 2013
9:17 am

Since we are on the topic of hotels…I just finished the book HEADS IN BEDS. It is a colorful book about a man who has worked in hotels his entire life. He shares all sorts of tips and mentioned that if you book on the discount web pages ( such as Priceline) you will not get the best rooms. If the hotel is wide open, then you have more options. If your hotel is full and you booked a non smoking room but all they have is smoking…that is what you get. No refund. I mentioned this to the hotel manager here and he affirmed it.
He also said that those who stay at budget hotels may want to know that these are called “cash hotels”. More people pay with cash and thus they are targets for theft. I did not know this but do not stay at budget hotels. Just passing along things I hear.


January 22nd, 2013
9:28 am

Hey Mayhem, remember all the good times we had in the “cash hotels?”

non committal mind reader

January 22nd, 2013
9:42 am

I wouldn’t know. My southern baptist family pretty much disowned me when I got a divorce some 10 years ago. I haven’t been invited to family gatherings since.


January 22nd, 2013
10:04 am

Oh Chaos – How could I forget those nights? Such a lovely place, sweet memories….


January 22nd, 2013
11:05 am

Oh yes! Even though we get together all the time, we always revert to childhood roles. It’s funny.


January 22nd, 2013
11:19 am

TWG sorry for your loss.

Absolutely we revolt to form. To the point my mother asks will we knock it off (NOPE) and will we ever grow up (well we hold full time jobs and own our homes, we pay taxes, and raise kids….so I think we did that).

My children got the biggest kick watching my brother trade insults while playing Life at Thanksgiving. My mother kept saying we needed a time out and of course our kids said “Make them take on Grandma!”

We stay under one roof. We do not stay in the same hotel room. Trying to decide when/where to eat is fun too. Often we are in a single car (rented) or 2 cars. I hate both my father’s and my brother’s driving habits. They hate mine.

I cannot wait until we are all together again (my parents live here my brother moved out of state in 2008).

On a side note. We attended a memorial for a dear friend at the start of the year. All of us who had been to HS/College together were like we had time apart being adults. The jokes, stories, (yes boooze) etc. Isn’t that the way you want it to be? That is like it never stopped?


January 22nd, 2013
11:28 am

Probably not — I can’t imagine such a circumstance occurring that I would need to stay in a hotel room with both my mother AND my brother!

My brother and I get along much better as adults than we did as kids (too much of an age difference as kids), but there’s still some good-natured teasing — my kids think it’s hilarious when their mom and their uncle start rehashing 45 year old grievances, complete with eye-rolling, and we mostly do it for entertainment value these days, both for my kids and his. :-)

My brother redefined his role in the family during my father’s illness and death last year — he was a loving and concerned son who went by my parents’ house almost every single evening for two years to help my mother feed, bathe and get my dad ready for bed. He would come by on weekends to give my mom much-needed breaks to do shopping or just get out and spend some time out of the house. He was incredible. While we have always loved him, we all now look up to him.


January 22nd, 2013
11:32 am

sorry it was like we never had time apart…


January 22nd, 2013
12:10 pm

Both my folks are dead, but when my mother was alive she still thought she was in charge. Little things like “You are not going to take a bath THIS LATE! (8 pm)’ and we had a well-heated house. Ot telling me ” you don’t like that food”

When I have the gang together they do not seem to adopt their old roles. They spiritedly debate and discuss. It is lots of fun but sometimes I wonder where these young adults came from!

Last week we heard from my son about something very bad that he was trying to deal with. His big sister put her plans aside and went up there with her husband to help out. So that part has not changed!


January 22nd, 2013
1:08 pm

My parents are both deceased (dad 22 years, mom 11). Before my mom died we would sometimes do childish things to get laughs (Mom, she looking at me, he’s eating cookies before dinner, etc) or to spark up a round of “do you remember that time”. Most of my large family lives within an hour of each other but two sister and I live out of state. We try to plan our visits around the same time so we can all see each other and we stay with other siblings. At least once during each trip we will all get together at someone’s house and will often end up laughing, talking and drinking so late that we spend the night at the host’s house. That’s a lot of fun and brings back cherished memories for me.


January 22nd, 2013
4:19 pm

I am an adult and would not share a hotel room with my mom or brother like that. Nope – this isn’t a school field trip.


January 22nd, 2013
5:50 pm

I agree – why on earth give a 5 year old an ipad?


January 22nd, 2013
5:52 pm

oops. wrong blog topic. I am like MJG – I would never share a hotel room with a few family members, just me, or just me and my husband. Rooms are way too cheap to have a room for 4 people. Better places to save. I would be miserable sharing a bathroom and beds with 3 other people.