Image by ooh_food via FlickrTo continue the dialogue between Shelly and I, I wanted to offer up my view point on this too. Part of what I love about my job is that we're open to discussing whatever is on your mind (or ours), and saying that this is a negative free zone! You can comment, or voice an opinion without backlash from us, because we really do recognize the idea that it takes all kinds of parents to make this world go around! So, without further ado- more on sharing rooms!
Despite being an only child, whether or not our kids had turned out to be different genders, my husband and I agreed early on that, for awhile, they would share a room. A lot of people thought this was odd, apparently coming from parents who are both only children. Other people thought it odd because our kids are different genders and that it might be ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘inappropriate’.
Personally, I don’t find these arguments valid for a number of reasons. I have a degree in psychology and I focused on child/family psychology specifically. Despite Freudian followers, especially after having countless clinical hours in with kids, it’s very hard for me to believe that siblings view each other sexually at early stages. If they do, it is more out of curiosity than attraction or exploration.
But the need to learn how to share things, space, and time with other people is invaluable. I specifically remember talking with my mother about our desire to have our kids share a room for some part of their childhood. My mother has 8 siblings and throughout her childhood, shared a room with at least one other person. She mentioned repeatedly how it taught her about compromise, respect for other people’s privacy and belongings, and that, had I not been an only child then I would have most likely shared a room with a sibling. My mother also pointed out that both she and her siblings have all voiced, at different times, the fact that because they shared bedrooms, they feel like they were much closer than had they not.
Seeing as my husband and I are both only children, we both crave things like ‘alone time’ or ‘down time’, perhaps more often than other couples. But it makes our relationship unique because we understand that the other person needs time to recharge their batteries so they can be a better partner and parent. Of course, kids do need that time too, but learning the ins and outs of sharing and working as a team at an early age are to any one's advantage.
As Shelly noted in her post, in our household, we are open and honest about the differences between boys and girls. We also don’t discourage our children if they want to run around in a tee shirt and underwear at home (or less, if it was my daughter’s choice). I probably wouldn’t even have my daughter potty trained had I not allowed her the freedom to be naked when she was younger. (Just kidding!)
Society puts a lot of structure and demand on children, even early on. While I definitely respect the idea that my kids should be clothed to go to the grocery store, for example, I never want them to feel embarrassed or shy about themselves at home, in private. Kids are only young and innocent for so long before they have to think about the realities of peer pressure, conformity, and how they ‘should’ look or act. I would rather my kids be comfortable in their own skins and around each other than the exact opposite.