I shared a room with my siblings when I was a kid. It wasn’t a big deal. We never questioned it. These days, however, a lot of people seem to think sharing a room with a brother or sister is something to avoid. I’ve even known people who went through the trouble and expense of buying a bigger house so each kid in the family could have their own room. But is it really so awful to share? It wasn’t for me.
Sure, there were times when I needed to get away from my siblings and have alone time, but that’s understandable. Everyone needs that. But as a long-term solution, I think room-sharing between siblings is something to be grateful for rather than avoid. Sharing a room is one of the things that helps make life together easier for siblings. It teaches patience. It teaches understanding. And in the future, when your kids become adults, they’ll probably have to share a dorm room, office space, or a tiny first apartment with a new spouse. Guess what? They’ll already have some good experience learning how to make it work.
At our house, our girls share a room. They love it. There are occasional moments when one of us needs to step in as parents to help them work out an argument. But we don’t always want to be their referees. We try to let them work things out on their own. And generally, it works pretty well. We do make sure each kid has something — like a bookshelf or nightstand — that is specifically hers. They have separate drawers for their stuff. And they get to decorate their own area within the shared room. It allows them self-expression while also teaching them respect for someone else’s space.
We also negotiate private time for each of our girls in their room. They deserve some time alone, within reason, and we try to work it out.
Here are just some of the amazing benefits of sharing a room that we’ve encountered:
1. It creates security.
The comfort in knowing they are not alone is beneficial to most kids, especially at nighttime. Sometimes this helps them go to sleep faster. And sometimes the silent companionship makes it easier for them to go back to sleep if they wake up in the night.
2. It helps them sleep more soundly.
In addition to the comfort provided by a sibling’s presence, few things teach a kid to be a heavy sleeper like having to sleep in the same room as another person. Whether it starts early in life (crying), or later in adolescence (different bedtimes), learning to stay asleep in the presence of random noise can be a good thing. What parent wouldn’t want that?
3. It builds communication.
There will be giggling going on at some point when kids share a room. I love hearing it. It means my kids are enjoying one another. They can talk about the things they did during the day and make plans for the next. They can read together. They can listen to music together. It rarely matters what they do. If they’re doing it together, I love it.
4. It builds a bond.
Over the long run, that kind of communication and togetherness teaches kids how to be friends, not just siblings. It gives them more time together to be themselves without parents around, and the space to talk about whatever they want. Their shared bedroom is like their own world, their own kingdom that they rule over together.
5. It teaches problem-solving.
Living in close proximity may mean occasional problems, but it also means learning to fix those problems — to compromise and work out a solution so that everyone is happy. They learn to help each other and not be selfish. It doesn’t take long for them to discover that, in a shared room, the world doesn’t only revolve around one person. That’s a valuable life lesson.
6. It teaches sensitivity.
When you spend lots of time with someone in close quarters, you begin to notice their emotions and moods better. You can tell when the other person is sad or angry or happy or scared. This opens the door for empathy. It helps kids learn to make each other feel better on their own — without a parent’s help.
7. It teaches respect.
They learn that respect is something we do at home, too. It’s not just for adults or teachers, and it’s not just for guests. It’s something for all of us. And they learn that respect often is earned through kindness and sacrifice — doing things for another person’s benefit. You can bet I love to see that among my children.
With all of these benefits, there’s no reason in my book to ever split them up. Do your kids share a room? How well does it work, or not, in your family?