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Where Fire and Ice Meet

Gitty Weber

The hail of the Ten Plagues wasn’t made up of your average hailstones. Contained within each one were both fire and ice coexisting harmoniously. This miracle teaches us that even opposites can live in peace — something seemingly impossible to believe if you’ve been roommates with a sibling, or the parent of kids sharing rooms. Is it a good idea to put siblings with dramatically different personalities into the same room? Family First interviewed sisters, parents, and experts in search of the answers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to help siblings share rooms successfully

Aliza Zucker* of Lakewood, New Jersey, considers herself an expert on the subject of room sharing. As the second of nine children, she spent most of her life rooming with her older sister. “It was a disaster,” she recounts. “We’re total opposites. We fought over everything. I was more social, my sister Libby* more reserved. I was the girl who was on the phone with her friends until 3 a.m., always having sleepovers. She was the one who wanted the room to be quiet so she could study, who went to bed at 9 p.m. Sometimes when you have a pair of siblings with a larger age gap, it can work out because one of them has more control over the room, but we were eleven months apart. We both wanted the room to ourselves. Libby couldn’t tell me to leave because I would just say ‘no.’

Esther Friedman* of Cleveland, Ohio, sympathizes. “Until we moved to a bigger house, all seven of us had to share bedrooms. I shared with my sister who is a year younger than I am, and I dreamed of having my own room every day.” It wasn’t easy for Henny* and Shoshana Miller* of Trenton, New Jersey, to share a living space either, particularly because their natures and preferences were so different.

Siblings who don’t live well together aren’t the only ones who suffer — so do their parents. Roommate disputes are a part of life for Shaindel Goldfarb,* a mother of five, from Toronto, and Chavy Jacobs,* a mother of eight. “You can’t get around sharing when you have eight children and a five-bedroom house. There is just no other option,” says Chavy.

When roommate strife gets serious, professionals are sometimes called in for advice. Dr. Ruchama Fund, PhD, who has a private practice in New York, and Simi Yellen, a parenting teacher who has been giving classes since 2002, have both dealt with many cases of room-sharing disputes over the years. It’s very common for siblings with different personalities to end up sharing a room because “most of us have large families and small houses,” says Simi. But, she adds, “When dealt with properly, it can work out.” 


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