*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
When a couple gets married they will usually get their own home and look forward to raising a family there. But how should you react when the number of bedrooms is less than the number of kids you have, and they don't want to share the space, or they expect some kind of compensation for agreeing to that?
Is it just the parents' decision where kids sleep, or should everyone get a word in?
My friend Alex has been married to her husband Tom for 26 years. Together they had two daughters and one son. The couple lives in a three-bedroom home, and it has been a challenge to ensure each of their kids gets the space they need.
"It wasn't too difficult when they were little. We often had the girls sleeping in the living room because it was the warmest part of the house. But as time went by, they started asking for their own rooms. And there was no way we could do that for everyone," Alex said.
Unfortunately, they just don't have enough rooms to give a bedroom to each kid, so there's a competition going on about who gets which room and how long they can stay there.
John, their son, has one bedroom to himself, but during the summer, he sleeps in a little outside study that Alex has to give the girls a chance to have two rooms.
That's just temporary, though, and things go back to a compromise once the warm months pass.
"It's not fair that he can always have his own space, but we only get that chance in the summer. Why can't things be fair to all of us? We each need a room," Mary, the oldest daughter, said.
Mary and Gina usually share the largest bedroom. Still, they feel like they're missing out on doing their own projects, listening to music, or reading undisturbed by anyone else.
Mary is in her second year of high school, and Gina is a second grader. The age difference between them often means that Mary has to put up with extra noise, and she also can't ask her friends to come up and talk in her room.
"It would get too crowded if I had my friends over. I usually just tell them to sit down in the living room or in the kitchen. But it's not that comfortable to talk about our stuff with mom, dad, my brother, and sister listening in," Mary said.
She's been considering the way they live closely, and in the last few days, she's come up with a different idea about sharing a room. The teenager believes that if she's got to put up with it, she should at least get paid for her troubles.
"My parents should pay me to share a room with my sister; I'm in high school. I think that would be fair, and it would give me a reason to keep on doing it. If not, it's like I can't decide anything, and my room is hers, or we keep moving and switching bedrooms until I go to college," Mary said.
In her opinion, getting compensation for sharing her bedroom is a great way for her parents to show her they appreciate her patience.
"If it can't be done, it's just going to get more stressful all the time. My sister and I argue sometimes, and she keeps asking me questions while I study. It's tiresome," Mary said.
Her mom was surprised to learn about her idea, but she and her husband promised to consider it.
"We can't actually pay her, but we're thinking about some treats or a gym subscription. Something she'd like," Alex said.
What do you think about this situation? Does it make sense for Mary to ask for payment to continue sharing the room with her sister? Should she do it without asking for money, knowing her parents probably can't afford to pay her?
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