Front door / back door

Today whilst wandering around the hacienda, clearing up some of the mess from the truck smash of a few weeks ago, I was ruminating (as you do when feeding a couple of cubic metres of tree through a mulcher) about conventions for going to other peoples houses.

When I was a kid, if it was somebody you knew, you always went to the back door. The back was usually the kitchen door and close to the occupied living areas. You never ever went to the front door. The front door usually led into a lounge room or similar, a special place for visitors that was kept clean and tidy, certainly not somewhere for kids to go and mess it up. For somebody you didn’t know, the front door was of course the way to go. Even when gates started to appear you could always open them, and it was still easy and normal to make an appearance at the back door.

These days, gates are far more common and usually locked. Back yards and back doors are considered private. With a few rare exceptions, I wouldn’t dream of arriving at most peoples houses and going to the back door. Perhaps going around the back carries an implied need to be invited. As well, modern house designs seem less amenable to easily popping around to a back door anyhow. But it seems a social norm has changed over the last 20 or 30 years. Not sure if this is a change for the better or not.


Yeah I’ve noticed that too. I also think that these days we don’t do the ‘uninvited pop in’ like we used to do. Obviously there’s a link to parents both working (as opposed to Mum always being home and ready for a coffee for one of her friends and their kids), kids at after school care or on scheduled and pre-arranged playdates, sport or music lessons and security.

Actually, the only person who rocks up to our back door is my father or Bob, our 87 year old neighbour.

Comment by MillyMoo | August 4th, 2008 1:13 pm | Permalink

Thanks for explaining a mystery to me. In Canada I don’t think we ever had this tradition of popping in buy my wife’s uncle (who is Australian) just walks in the door back or front at any time of the day.

Comment by Jack | August 7th, 2008 7:45 am | Permalink

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