“Hey, Mom and Dad, we’ve talked and we want to know if we can share a bedroom,” my 13 year old daughter said to us in late January. Her little sisters were standing behind her with eyebrows raised and hands clasped. We were surprised—and thrilled—and agreed right away to make it happen.
Our three younger girls, ages 9, 11, and 13, had overheard Mark and me having a conversation a few days prior. Apparently they had been intently listening and our words sunk into their own minds and hearts, without us knowing it. They heard us discussing Al Mohler’s daily podcast, “The Briefing,” which aired that morning and made mention of a new book.
Get out of My Room!: A History of Teen Bedrooms in America, by Jason Reid had just been published and Mohler was sharing his thoughts on a review in the Wall Street Journal. Mohler’s commentary was brief, but we both came away from it with the sense that the individual teen bedroom is relatively new in history and not a great idea. The girls heard us discussing the book, which reportedly highlights the pitfalls of the teen bedroom, especially centered around the use and abuse of technology and the internet in secret. We already strongly limit screens in our bedrooms, because we agree that the internet has no business being there.
The girls listened as Mark and I talked about how having one’s own space and one’s own door can feed so many temptations: selfishness, impatience, quickness to anger, unforgiveness, or a lack of persevering in relationships. We considered how the idea of one’s own space is quite foreign in the rest of life and questioned why we would feed the selfish tendencies of a teenage heart.
Not only that, but smart phones, tablets, and laptops could be free to stream whatever one desires at any moment in one’s own room. A girl will be much less likely to sneak a phone into bed and talk to or text a boyfriend in the wee hours if her sisters are right there. She’ll be less inclined to keep secrets or even sneak out. Sharing a room is a built-in security system and accountability program.
And Mark and I focused on the positives of the girls sharing a room too. Lord willing, they will forge strong friendships. Yes, they’ll bicker and take one another’s clothes without asking. But at the end of the day, our prayer is that they’ll weave deep, deep bonds as they whisper off to sleep, awaken slowly on weekends, and share their most intimate thoughts and silliest inside jokes.
So we disassembled and reassembled their IKEA furniture, we painted walls, and we brought three girls who used to be split into two rooms all together into one. They now share a bedroom and a study room. One week in, they’re delighting in one another—not every minute—but it’s sweet and I think with a lot of “covering in love” (1 Peter 4:8), this could be wonderful for years to come.
If you listened to or attended the Behold Retreat (session 1) you know about the accent pillow shopping trip! Always, always take dads on such errands (it's their favorite).