Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wisdom From Across the Room: When Two Brothers Share a Bedroom

 We are all within four feet of each other, okay?  We can hear you.  - Emanuel brother about growing up in a small house and sharing a bedroom. 'Emanuel Brothers' Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2013

Is it possible that sharing a bedroom gives kids a 'leg up' in becoming successful resilient adults?  I like to think the answer is yes.  My evidence to support that conclusion is the Emanuel brothers.

Growing up in the 1960s in Uptown Chicago, the three ridiculously successful Emanuel brothers shared a room.  Ari Emanuel has been described as the "21st century Hollywood mogul" and is the co-CEO of William Morris an entertainment and media agency.  The character of Ari Gold on HBO's show Entourage was patterned after Ari Emanuel.  Rahm Emanuel, Ari's brother, served as White House Chief of Staff for Barack Obama and is now mayor of Chicago.  The oldest brother "Zeke" Emanuel is a doctor and holds a joint appointment at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Wharton school.

Just like the Emanuel brothers my sons, Richard and Marc, were brought up sharing a bedroom.

Richard, my oldest son, Marc, my youngest and Rick my husband.

From the first night, Marc was brought home from the hospital, the boys have slept in the same room.  Richard was then four-years-old.  He is now attending Cornell medical school and Marc is a junior at the University of Michigan.

I recently interviewed the boys about sharing a room.  My questions together with their answers are below.  Full disclosure, neither of my boys were keen on doing this interview, but I would not take no for an answer.

Question:  What was the hardest part about sharing a room?

Richard:  I heard Marc crying to be fed when he was a baby.  But I learned to put a pillow over my ears and fall asleep that way.  No big deal.

Marc:   Richard snores.

Question:  Were there any good things about sharing the same room?

Richard:  I don't think of it as good or bad, it just was.  I will say this, Marc and I are very close.  We disagree on a lot of things, but I'm his biggest defender.  Don't get between me and my brother.

Marc: If there is one person in my life I look up to, one person whose approval I want, it is my brother's.  To use a term from 'The Godfather' a movie we have watched together over and over, Richard is my 'consigliere'.  I don't want to let him down.  (Richard gives Marc some kind of complicated 'guy' hand-shake and hug.)

Question: You did not have a computer or television in your room.  Was that a problem?

Richard and Marc answer together:  No problem at all.  We had a computer and television in the basement and used that for homework and video games.  And it worked out great because we could bring our friends down there.

Question:  You both lived in dorm rooms at college.  Did sharing a room help prepare you for college dorm living?  

Richard:  Oh yeah!  My college dorm was much bigger than my room at home.  I was used to sharing my stuff with someone, so it was no big deal.  Once you share a room with your brother, you got the routine down.  Stuff doesn't bother you.

Marc:  Yeah, dorm life was nice.  I had more space, it worked out great.  I'm living in a fraternity now and like Richard said, it's no big deal.  I don't feel crowded and I don't need my own private bathroom.

Question:  Most of your friends lived in bigger houses and had their own rooms.  Did that bother you?  Did you feel deprived, make you less popular?

Richard:  What?  Are you kidding?  No one cared about the size of our house.

Marc:  I'm not even going to answer that.  What a stupid question!

At this point, both boys immediately left the room with disgusted looks on their faces.

Until next time,



  1. What insight....I love this post!!!!

  2. Thanks, Andrea. I do find it interesting that my children could care less about my fixation with bigger homes and the american philosophy that bigger is better.

  3. Our four children shared rooms too. (Two boys and two girls) But our home was only 1200 sq. ft. and we had no basement! When I ask them now, as adults, about living so closely together, they say, "But it was home."

  4. Missing your posts! Hope you are well.

  5. You have such a wonderful blog. I enjoy your thoughts and pictures. I have been wondering if you are ok, waiting for a new post. I am sure there are others wondering too. Hope you are well.

  6. are missed genevieve...and loved...blessings laney