Few things really shock me anymore, but I have to say a discussion on CafeMom really knocked me for a loop. A mom wanted to know if it was illegal for her kids to share a room. No, mom, it's not illegal for your kids to share a room unless one of those children is a convicted sex offender, but then he or she wouldn't be in the home anyway. Next.

Are We Too Sensitive?

But the more I got to thinking about it, the more this made my blood boil. What is it with us as a culture that we are a) paranoid, b) space hogs, and c) uptight?

The underlying assumption on the part of the mom asking the question and some of her subsequent responders was that if you had two children — a boy and a girl — in the same room then some horrendous Flowers in the Attic V.C. Andrews style incestuous affair is going to happen. This is a crazy assumption for a number of reasons, but thank goodness this is the one argument where poor gay and lesbian children are left out of the equation. (Most people think it's fine for same-sex children to share a room.)

Where have we gone in a society that this is even an issue? Is this the culture that gave birth to Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote stories about everyone sleeping in one room? If you can afford separate bedrooms for everyone and the dog, great. If not, do what you can, I say. Or better yet — quit worrying about what other people will say and just do what's right for your family.

My son and daughter have been sharing a room since my youngest stopped co-sleeping with us. So I'm going to say that's about five years. At the beginning when we couldn't afford a new bed they (gasp) slept on the same double futon on the floor. One day, grandma sprang for two nice twin beds and we've had that ever since. In our old two-bedroom house it was out of necessity.

It Can Be Done — Even in Small Spaces

We just moved into a three-bedroom place and someone was going to have to be on the bottom floor alone if we divided the rooms up in the traditional American fashion of everyone gets their own space with their own locked door. My kids' new bedroom is the envy of every child we know. It's a beautiful room with pine wood flooring that sits above a giant two-car garage. Friends even ask why my husband and I didn't take the giant room and give the kids the two smaller ones. Well, it's like this:

By letting our kids live in a giant room together (we have room dividers that separate the 'boy' robot and Lego area from the 'girl' doll and pet toys area) they have a great place to play. They have room for a gymnastics mat, art table, their own bookcases, and a giant teddy bear to read on. They keep each other company! They clean together and have learned how to share space (which is a skill EVERYONE needs to learn). I haven't stepped on a single piece of Lego since we moved. That makes me happy.

People switch tactics and say things like, "Oh, but you'll change when they are older because..." because what? So they can sneak in a boyfriend or girlfriend as teenagers without anyone knowing? For privacy, they have the dividers and the bathroom. I really don't see what the issue is.

I also love the fact that sharing a room means they aren't pigeon-holed into gender roles. This morning, my husband and I woke up to our son wearing Hello Kitty socks and our daughter building something out of Lego's. Since they don't live in an all-pink or all-blue world, they have no idea that people in America may frown at my son picking the warmest new socks in the house to put on his cold feet this morning. Or that Lego is a boy thing, not a girl thing unless it comes in a pink box.

There Are Limitations

I realize that, at least in my state, one cannot become a foster parent unless one has a separate bedroom to accommodate a foster child. That's really too bad — I would love to be able to help out a child in need. For now, I just help out the kids of family members. This also means, of course, that most households in Asia and Latin America aren't good enough for Child Protective Services and Foster Programs. Not all cultures deem it necessary for giant walls to separate each family member so that alienation can begin at the earliest age possible.

And that's really what it is for us. Our family is together. We like being together. We have no need to foster alienation in the household. And it sure is practical.

This post was included in the Everything Home blog carnival.