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When my four children (ages 9, 8, 6, and 4) complain about not having their own rooms — usually following a power struggle over the speed of a fan or a sibling being obnoxious — I tell them that sharing a bedroom won’t kill anyone, and it will be a blessing in the long run. Yes, there have been times when giving in and accommodating their wishes has been seriously tempting; all I’d have to do is just give up my office and turn their playroom into a bedroom and move them into their own spaces. But, see, I’m not mean or selfish by resisting these changes. I’m using my own personal experience to do something that’s good for them. As a child I had the luxury of having my own bedroom, and in many ways it prevented me from gaining certain skills that I really could have used as a college freshman living in a dorm. And since they’re all going to grow up (God-willing) and leave this house, ready to start their own lives one day, it’s my job to prepare them for the challenges they’ll face. I’m doing my best, and it all starts with insisting that my kids share bedrooms, which will benefit them in the following ways…

1. Developing sharper negotiating skills

Sharing space forces you to figure out what really matters to you and which situations are actually worth fighting about. You’ll be amazed at how flexible you can actually be when you don’t get to have things “your way” all of the time. Having the ability to go with the flow will be almost like having a superpower when you deal with inflexible coworkers and friends, and your voice will be better heard when you save it for occasions when the stakes truly matter to you.

2. Learning to be considerate of other’s needs

This is a hugely important life skill that we can all benefit from. Being sensitive to the needs of someone else, especially when your decisions impact their comfort, will serve you well as an adult living with another adult. Lending a helping hand when you can — say, if your sister can’t make her bed the right way — is an important habit to get into. If you see that your roomie has a headache, don’t turn on the music. Pretty simple, but very important.

3. Learning how to compromise

Growing up if I wanted to have the lights on in my room all night (unless Mom told me to turn it off) I could do it without ever having to consider someone else’s preferences. It was the Jessica Show; I always did things my way and never really even considered that real life wouldn’t work that way. It was a RUDE AWAKENING. Boys, y’all are learning that if you make your brother’s life miserable by being unreasonable then he will in turn make your life hell. Don’t make a big deal out of something unless it actually matters to you, and be willing to compromise. If you want the fan speed on high and he wants it on low, put it on medium. Compromise is crucial when you spend a lot of time with someone; be good to each other or you’ll never get anything done your way.

4. Knowing the rules of companionship

It’s kind of nice to have someone else around when a bad storm is raging outside the window or during the middle of your first broken heart. Knowing how and when to comfort someone or when to give them space is invaluable. By giving you built-in company, I’m preventing you from constantly seeking the attention of your parents… US… which makes everyone happier. Trust me.

5. Building strong family bonds

Growing up together minute by minute will allow for endless chances to make memories even when they’re being made. Getting to grow closer to a sibling, who will likely be a lifelong presence in your life, will allow for you to have hidden jokes, memories, and experiences of hiding things from your parents that we are better off not knowing about.

6. Making better decisions (hopefully)

Having another person that lives in close proximity to you can keep you from making some bad decisions. Knowing that someone else cares, or at the very least will rat you out, can curb some of the more flamboyant actions (stupid stuff) that you will likely consider. Sometimes intervention comes from unexpected places.

7. Learning to value relationships over things

Y’all have less opportunities to amass large amounts of unneeded items, because you have less space to put them. This has ensured that we give you less junk that you don’t really need and you, in turn, value what you have more than you would if you were drowning in stuff. You guys are still messy, normal kids, but when there’s clutter in your rooms it’s not as huge of a battle to reorganize and tidy up. Less cleaning makes this mama happy, and so does spending less on stuff we don’t need.

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