*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Having your room is essential for privacy, and as kids grow older and get into their teenage years, it's often an essential issue for them.
A house with few rooms while having a new family can also pile up the pressure, and it's not easy to convince them to share their personal space with a new sibling, even when they love them and feel comfortable with having a bigger family.
That's what happened to my coworker, Carrie. She was a single mom for seven years, doing her best to pay the bills on time, having her parents babysit when she needed to go to work, and making sure that Susan, her daughter, never missed out on quality time together.
Everything seemed to work out fine, but something was missing in Carrie's life. She wanted to have a family again, too. As soon as she met Harry, she knew the time had come to consider some bigger changes.
After dating for a few weeks and then introducing him to her daughter, Carrie was convinced that they would all be happy together in the long run.
The couple started making wedding plans, and they tied the knot in two months. They moved into a three-bedroom house in Billings, Montana, and gradually settled into their new life.
Carrie soon found out she was pregnant, and the couple welcomed a baby girl. As the family got bigger, and Carrie decided to work from home to help support her family, the three bedrooms were no longer enough for Susan to have her own space.
Once the baby, Allison, stopped crying at night and didn't need constant feeding, Carrie and Harry had a talk with her, telling her she needed to share her bedroom.
Susan immediately rejected the idea.
"She's not mine. Why do I have to take care of her now?" she said.
"You're sisters. That's a bond you'll have for life. It's only until we can buy a bigger house," Carrie tried to reason with her.
Seeing her reaction, Carrie thought it best to wait a few days before bringing it up again. Unfortunately, Susan didn't change her mind.
"If you try to force me to do it, I'll just move out," she said.
"It's only about helping us for a while; it's not permanent."
"I have my own friends; I need to study. I can't look after a baby or have you constantly come in to do it. Why don't you put her in the living room?" was Susan's take on it.
And since she's almost 18, Carrie doesn't want to risk losing her older daughter. For now, the little sister is staying in the living room, and the couple both work overtime to be able to afford a bigger place as soon as possible.
How would you have handled this situation? Is that a reaction you've seen before from a teenager?