Dear Nikki,Your friend,
I’m totally freaking out right now! I recently moved to a new house in the neighborhood, and I just found out that I have to share a room with not one, but TWO sisters! Rosalyn and I get along really well. We like pretty much the same things, and we don’t argue a lot. We wouldn’t mind sharing a room. But, Marilyn is a totally different story! We’re pretty much rivals! It’s like having MacKenzie for a sister! She always makes fun of me, and makes me feel ugly. She’s popular and thinks she’s much better than me! I don’t want to share a room with her. I won’t get any space because she has enough makeup to fill two rooms. Please help!
Hi Carolyn!! Wow, I am totally sympathizing with you! Just the thought of sharing a room with someone like MacKenzie has me breaking out in hives!! Or maybe that’s an allergic reaction to the smell of her perfume from the last time I ran into her! Ugh!! But MacKenzie isn’t my sister. (OMG, thank goodness!!!) I don’t have to get along with her, and I definitely won’t ever have to share a room with her.
Sharing a room with two siblings would be hard, even if you get along great. But before you freak out too much, let’s think about the positives.
There are actual scientific studies that show siblings who’ve had to share a room end up with better problem-solving and conflict resolution skills than people who’ve always had their own room. (I’m trying to imagine how they did this study. I’m envisioning scientists in white coats, looking through a one-way glass at two sisters squabbling over who stole the other’s favorite nail polish and then spilled it all over the rug.) I realize this is a long-term benefit. Who cares that you’ll be a well-adjusted adult when right now, you’re worried about Marilyn calling you ugly?
But college isn’t that far off (not to stress you out), and college officials say that incoming freshman who had to share a room growing up have a much easier transition into college dorm life. For lots of those college freshmen, moving into the dorm is the first time they’ve ever had to share a room, and it’s super stressful. So you can look forward to a smooth transition into college life, at least!
But okay, let’s talk about right now.
It might be a shared room, but the first thing I’d recommend is finding a way to have some space that is yours and only yours. Maybe you could get standing screens or hanging curtains – some way that you can say, “This space is mine” but at other times move the screens or curtains aside to enjoy good times with your sisters. Your room might not be big enough for dividers like that, or your parents might not want to spend the money. In that case, you should at least have some drawers, shelves, a nightstand, or SOMETHING that is yours and only yours. Your sisters should not get more space than you do, just because they have more makeup. I’m sure your parents will understand that. And no one should be allowed to touch anything in your personal space without getting your permission first.
(This will work if it applies to everyone. Marilyn’s not allowed to touch your stuff and you’re not allowed to touch her stuff. If everyone respects the rule, everyone’s space gets respected.)
Another way to control your space is to have a policy that no one can sit on your bed without your permission. Like above, this would apply to everyone—you wouldn’t be allowed on Marilyn or Rosalyn’s beds either, without their permission.
You might consider writing up a contract that all three sisters sign, agreeing to whatever privacy/sharing/shared space rules you decide on together.
As for MacKenzie—I MEAN MARILYN—making you feel bad about yourself, UGH. You can’t control what she says or does. You CAN control how much it affects you. Shrug her off and she’ll (hopefully) stop. Show her how upset you are and it’ll probably get worse.
But if it’s happening a lot, it might be time to call a family meeting that includes your parents. Your room should be a place where you can relax and feel safe, not a place where you’re constantly on guard from vicious pit bull-in-lip-gloss attacks.
I think with a bit of communication, you can do it! I’m rooting with you!!
What do you guys think? Have you ever had to share a room with one sister, or even two??