Are Boy/Girl Shared Bedrooms a Problem?

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(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

We see plenty of shared bedrooms here on Apartment Therapy. The overwhelming majority are for siblings of the same sex, but especially when families live in small homes and apartments, it’s often the logical (or only) choice for a brother and sister to share a bedroom. Last week in “My Brother’s Bunkmate,” New York Times contributor Michael Tortorello wrote about some of the issues of brothers and sisters sharing a room. Slate’s Katy Waldman responded with her piece, “What’s the Deal With That New York Times Piece on Brothers and Sisters Sharing a Bedroom?”

So what is the deal?

In My Brother’s Bunkmate, Tortorello lists age, gender, dynamics, and personalities as factors in the shared room equation, but his greatest preoccupation is childhood sexuality.

There’s a euphemism for this kind of anxiety: ick. To spell it out just a bit, does the mixed-sex bedroom represent an inherent risk to the children’s social and sexual development?

As the author points out, that icky anxiety is a total first world problem. It is also a small space problem, especially for urban dwellers where space comes at a tremendous premium. The article concludes with an interview of siblings who grew up sharing a room in NYC, and it sounds like they turned out okay.

But it’s kind of a weird article, and that’s what Waldman spelled out in What’s the Deal With That New York Times Piece on Brothers and Sisters Sharing a Bedroom? She takes the NYT to task for its squeamishness and reticence to go there and spell out what she thinks are the the real fears, instead obliquely baiting parents to worry about one more way in which they might be messing up their kids.

Whether it’s by choice or necessity, many families have siblings sharing rooms, but does the sex of the siblings really complicate the decision? Has your family worked through the prospect of a mixed-sex shared bedroom? What did you do? How is it working out?