Daughter on parents: "I have to share a room with them; my grandmother took the rest of the house"

Amy Christie

*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 own space to study, read, learn, talk to friends, or listen to your favorite music is often taken for granted when the house has plenty of bedrooms and kids don't have to share.

But what do you do when you're not living in your own home, and you only get one room for all your family? Is it fair to share until your kids are teenagers?

My friend Dahlia has been living in her grandparents' home ever since she was a toddler. Her parents, Annie and James, used to rent an apartment while they were dating and during Annie's pregnancy, but when James lost his job, they couldn't afford it any longer.

"We lived on our own in a little apartment, but we couldn't keep that place when James was out of a job, and I was pregnant and couldn't work from the sixth month," Annie said.

They asked their friends if they could have them for a few weeks, but none of them had the space to receive both of them, and they didn't want to separate right before the baby was born.

"It wasn't easy for me, and I couldn't see my husband living somewhere else while we were waiting for our baby. My parents were traveling at the time, and another family had already rented their home, so the only option left was to talk to my in-laws," Annie recalls.

She wasn't very excited about doing that because they weren't very friendly to her. Annie thought they would refuse, but they offered them one bedroom in their home and said they didn't need to pay any of the bills either.

"It was unexpected and so nice at that time when we were struggling. And his mom did her best to make me comfortable. She got extra pillows, went and bought me anything I needed, and kept me positive about the baby and our family," Annie said.

Once Dahlia was born, the couple decided to keep living with their in-laws, and by that time, they all got along well, and there were no arguments. However, Flora, James's mom, did offer advice that her daughter-in-law didn't agree with.

"Both Flora and her husband were happy to have their granddaughter close, but their ideas about parenting were a bit outdated. I didn't mind, though, because they never tried to make me do things the way they wanted, and Flora respected my opinion even when we disagreed," Annie said.

James managed to find another job, and Annie also started working part-time at a store, but they didn't really want to move to another place when Dahlia was little.

And then, time passed, and they got used to being in the same place with their in-laws, having a big breakfast together, and always having someone to talk to. They eventually gave up on finding another home for themselves and Dahlia.

The only problem with this arrangement was the space. Annie's mother and father-in-law only had one extra bedroom, so there was no chance for Dahlia to get her own room.

While that wasn't an issue while she was a toddler and when she went to kindergarten, she did start to ask questions when she went to school.

And by the time she started high school, things got complicated, and she began questioning the way they lived and why she was still sharing a room with her parents after all that time.

"It made no sense to me at all. My parents earn enough to move into a new home, but they won't because they like my grandparents too much. I get it, it's comfortable here, but I don't want to live in one room with my parents until I go to college. I need to have a place to talk to my friends, study, or just relax. It's not fair to always share when all my friends have their room," Dahlia said.

The teenager keeps asking her parents and grandparents to find a way to give her some space, but there is no way to find it. And her grandmother recently started giving piano classes, so the living room is taken the whole day with no chance to stay there.

Dahlia doesn't mind living there with her parents, but she would like some time apart and extra quiet hours.

"I have to share a room with them; my grandmother took the rest of the house. I know they're all trying to earn enough so the bills get paid on time, and they're always buying me nice things and having birthday parties. I wish there was some way to add a room, at least, if we can't move away," Dahlia said.

Annie is concerned about her daughter being unhappy, but at the same time, she feels Dahlia is probably overreacting because their room is quite big.

"I know she wants a room, even a tiny one. And I would do it for her if I could. I don't think we need to suddenly move away, though. She's been here all her life, and she must have adjusted by now. I think this is more about what her friends are telling her. It's a phase, and it will pass once she understands every family is different," the mom said.

For now, Dahlia and James have no plans to rent another place, and Dahlia can't stay in the living room because her grandmother's classes last from early morning to late at night. She is considering having more frequent sleepovers, though.

How do you think this situation should be handled? Is it fair for the parents to ignore their daughter's request and just live the same way without offering her the space she needs? Should Dahlia just wait until she goes to college and avoid complaining if everyone else is happy with the way they're living?

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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