Go ahead and wire it for 7.1 but don't use it that way until you have different signals for the side and rear channels. Their delays should be different as is the material (to a small degree). The only way I would have both side and rears is for movies vs music. Movies are generally recorded to have a dipole at the null (same plane as the listener). Music generally sounds better with sound coming from behind. For me, I don't really care for any of the music I've heard in 5.1 format. Now, that still leaves the question of sides vs rears for the interium for movies. Movies should be a dipole firing foward and backward at the same plane of the listner (to the side). However, if the side speakers are not dipoles and aimed at the listener, as they generally are for 7.1 format, then I would recommend you use the rear speakers, until you (your father) gets the full 7.1 compliment.