Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dream House

I keep reading things in the media that emphasize how great it is for kids to have their own bedrooms. A home-improvement magazine will have an article on how 'the Webers remodeled their house and were able to squeeze in 4 bedrooms upstairs so each child could have his or her own room', or the newspaper will have an article on how a low-income family got their first home and 'little Alex is overjoyed at having his own room for the first time'.

Okay now, I never shared a room as a child, but I do remember becoming giddy over the prospect of Friday-night sleepovers, in part because there would be someone else sleeping in my room. Really--is it so bad for kids to share a room? What exactly are parents thinking their children will gain by having their own room? Better social skills? A willingness to share and compromise? Or maybe it's just that parents have something to gain by giving each child their own room. I googled some statistics and found that the average new house size in 1950 was 980 square feet. In 1970, 1,500 square feet, in 2004, 2,349. I also found an interesting quote in the same article "I always wanted a house big enough that my kids could be in their room screaming, and my wife could be in a room screaming, and I could be somewhere else and not hear any of them," he says. "And I think I have accomplished this with this house, because this house is so big that everyone has their own space."

Wow. So this guy is happy that his family is unhappy and he doesn't have to deal with it because everyone is shut away in their own space. I don't exactly know what to say to that. Sounds like a great sad life to me. So, people who shared rooms as a child or currently have kids sharing rooms, spill it. Am I missing something?


Melanie B said...

I had experience with both as a child and think they can both be positive. I shared a room with my sister for a while and it was generally a good thing, even though we were four years apart. Sure, there were conflicts (like the time she ate all my Easter candy) and I can see why parents might avoid that because it means having to get involved in setting such conflicts. I'm not sure that's a good thing, though. I think learning to share space, learning to negotiate and compromise, learning that the world doesn't revolve around you and your desires, is a good thing.

I had my own room beginning when I was about 11 or 12. I enjoyed having my own space where I could go and close the door and be by myself, where I could have control over my environment. I'm not sure it was entirely good for me as I was often anti-social as a teenager and it might have actually done me good to have to share my space with another.

My brothers (who were two years apart) shared a room for years and years and were best friends. The older of the two would take the younger with him when he'd hang out with his friends, never despised him as the unwanted tag-along.

I think sharing can foster friendships between siblings, help children learn selflessness, responsibility and keep them from being isolated. It's definitely worth the trade-off of the occasional squabbles that will naturally arise as the children learn to negotiate the shared space. I certainly plan to have my children share a room, even if we do have extra space. I'd probably even consider doubling up children in a room and have a spare bedroom/office.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think you're missing anything. It's just the usual individualism and materialism run amok. (Not that I'm immune to such things myself. I'm just saying.)

It's a lonely culture.

Noy said...

I don't understand split rooms either. My sister and I had split rooms for a while when we were younger but I would always end up sleeping in Kak's room on the floor because I liked being around her (and because I was scared of sleeping alone). My parents eventually let us have their master bedroom so we could room together (and this was when we were in high school -- when you'd think girls would want privacy).

I've also read recent articles about the benefits of having siblings of the same sex room together. I do think it teaches sharing, enforces bonding, etc. So it just depends on what values you want to instill ...

I'll send you the link to the articles if I can find them :)

Andrea said...

Danielle Bean had a discussion on sharing rooms a while back. You can probably search her site for it. It was interesting.

I shared a room with my sister until I was 8. I begged for my own room and got it because we had the space. At the time, my sister did not want us to have separate rooms, but I don't remember feeling bad about it. I think we continued sharing at our Dad's house on the weekends for years after that though. I think we would be closer if we would have shared longer. But with just the two of us, I'm sure we would have had our own at some point. We had a larger house when we moved to Houston and we even both had our own bathrooms there.

Assuming we have more than the two children we have right now, our children will certainly share. Hopefully it will be a good experience for them.

jogger mom said...

Melanie, I can see how parents may want their kids in separate rooms because they think there will be less fighting going on between their kids. Which is fine, whatever works in your house is what works...but it seems a bit short sighted to assume it's better for your child to have their own space because of the benefits of sharing you've pointed out. And it seems sometimes parents adopt the attitude of 'well we can't have another kid because there's no where to put them', as if having 3 kids in a room is unthinkable, which it's not. It's just unusual in this particular part of the world.

jogger mom said...

Noy, that's interesting that you actually wanted to keep sharing, I'd expect the average teenager to choose their own room given the choice, too.