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Are you a ‘living room family?’ Viral IG post sparks debate with new parenting term

Viral post about "living room families"
mindfulmagda/Instagram

Ever since my child could walk, he has always wanted to be as close to us as humanly possible—every waking moment we are all home. In fact, even as I write this article, my 5-year-old son has an “asynchronous learning day” home from school, and he’s on my back reading over my shoulder, asking me if I’m talking about him. “Hi, Jack!”

Apparently, at least according to this viral Instagram post created by mom and influencer Magdalena, this is peak “Living Room Family” and it’s actually a sign of something good.

Magdalena shared a sweet video of her family all piled on her couch—even the dog, y’all—with emotional music playing, and in the caption she shares something she learned from the parenting side of the internet, a new term that made her stop and think.

“I read something the other day about ‘Living Room’ families versus ‘Bedroom’ families – the idea is that families who spend most of their time together in the communal living spaces of their home do so because everyone feels safe, at peace, comfortable and accepted enough to do so,” she began.

“It made me look at our kids always wanting to be right where we are, whether it’s snuggling on the couch or chatting in the kitchen or folding laundry together, in a whole different light.”

She then shared an anecdote from her past and how her family growing up definitely leaned more toward the “Bedroom Family” the older she got.

“I remember my family very much being a ‘Living Room Family’ when I was little, but that changed very quickly the older that I got. This is something Cal and I talk about all the time, wanting to cultivate the kind of relationship with our kids and environment at home where they feel accepted and safe to show up exactly as they are instead of feeling like they’re walking on eggshells anytime they’re in a common space,” she said.

Whether folks were triggered by her idea that the “Living Room Family” was superior and because their current family dynamic isn’t like that, or they just disagree, the people in the comments had some words.

“I was a bedroom family and I had a fantastic childhood and I’ve grown up and I’m still a bedroom family, I find this a very bizarre interpretation of a ‘good family/childhood,’” one person commented. Magdalena sweetly responded, “I’m so happy for you! That’s the thing about theories we come across on the internet, they definitely are not absolute truths and will not apply to or resonate with everyone—context matters for sure. Definitely not saying everyone who is an introvert and prefers to be alone or has kids who love to play in their rooms has a sh*tty childhood or environment.”

Others laughed at Magdalena’s post and said it was because her kids weren’t teenagers yet.

“Hahaha these children haven’t reached puberty yet. They love being around their parents until then, then they stay in their rooms. No amount of ‘we used to be a Living Room Family’ will encourage them back downstairs. You’ll be lucky if they’re home for the family evening meal. I am so sick of the children advertising parenting and forcing their ‘perfect’ here’s what I do and you should too.”

To which another pro-Living Room Family commenter responded, “You just have to keep offering. We went through the stage where nobody wanted to eat together but I kept offering. Now my eldest scolds his brother if he’s on his phone at the dinner table. And we have game night and watch documentaries together. They want their space during puberty but they want to be seen too.”

Another commenter put the teenager theory a bit kinder. “With small children, we were a Living Room Family. Now that most of our kids are teens and want to be in their own spaces, they mostly spend time in their rooms. It isn’t because they don’t feel safe anymore, and that feels like the wrong thing to say here. Not everyone who is a ‘Bedroom Family’ feels unsafe in their home. Most of the time, it’s just kids getting older and wanting their space and independence,” she said.

Magdalena was also very quick to point out there are of course caveats to not having a “Living Room Family” and it wasn’t just because kids didn’t feel safe in a communal space. Sometimes it has to do with different personality types, e.g., introvert versus extrovert, and other considerations, e.g., being neurodivergent and having different needs.

“Of course it’s soooo normal developmentally to want more space as they get older, of course there are introverts who prefer to be alone, of course no matter how you parent you can’t control 100% of how your children will want to spend their time when they’re older, and whatever other context or variable you can add to this,” she said. “From my own experience, and if you read through the comments lots of others who felt the same way – I personally did not want to be around BECAUSE of the environment so I was either always in my room or not at home. That’s what I want to be different for my kids, so that they feel comfortable and accepted being at home around us, what they decide to do from there isn’t in our control but a big part of the environment is.”

Lastly, one comment hit the nail on the head either way. “People are pretty set on invalidating the space you’re at. No amount of reasonable or thoughtful conversation can stymie that. What you’re doing will absolutely affect how your kids view home and family forever, whether they go through teen angst or not.”

Were you a “Living Room Family,” a “Bedroom Family” or even a “Kitchen Family”? How do you think this affected your childhood growing up and how you create your own family dynamic at home?