"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
March 27, 2014
Should Sisters Share a Bed?
by Cyndie Swindlehurst

Question:

I have two daughters who are not yet in school, but who have outgrown cribs and toddler beds. I am considering buying a double bed for them to share.

I like the idea of sisters sharing a bed — it will be cute and help them bond. Also, I’d rather decorate a room with one big bed than two twin beds, and it would be nice to have when we have houseguests.

My sister-in-law completely disagrees. She says she hated sharing a bed as a child. I don’t see anything wrong with it, but her strong opinion has made me wonder.

What do you think?

Answer:

Humans have been sharing beds since the dawn of time. Brothers, sisters, cousins, friends — all have shared sleeping space for millennia. And still do.

So, of course, there is nothing wrong with sharing a bed (or cot, pallet or hammock) when that bed is what you have.

However, when the twin modern marvels of privacy and new furniture are available to you, there is no sense in forgoing them just because countless generations before you have done so. It is not an extravagance or a luxury for a child in modern America to have her own bed; it will not spoil her or make her soft.

Thus, we ought to seize the fruits of prosperity when they are within reach. And since you are intending to purchase a bed or beds for your daughters, you can evaluate what size bed to buy on more than just what is now or has been available historically to children around the world.

In my opinion, furniture should be chosen primarily for the comfort and function of the people who will use it most. In a home, that means that furniture should be equal parts attractive and useful. It should fit the space it will inhabit, it should contribute to the orderliness and neatness of the home, it should be easy to clean, it should look nice, it should be sturdy and it should be comfortable.

Beds, for example, must fit in a room such that they can be easily made each morning. In a child’s room, especially, it should not be difficult to change the sheets at any time of day or night. (Bunk beds can be a bear in this regard.) As a bed’s occupants will continue to grow older and heavier, it needs to be sturdy and comfortable enough to last many years.

Most importantly, and most obviously, beds should be purchased and arranged in a room with the primary goal of sleep. So as you choose a new bed or beds, your first concern should be how well you think your daughters will sleep in the bed. Not how the bed will look, and not the comfort of your twice-a-year guests (who will need at least a queen size bed to be comfortable).

Your daughters have to sleep in the bed more than three hundred times a year. Their comfort should therefore be your primary concern.

For this reason, I would lean towards separate beds for your daughters. If they are in separate beds, they cannot kick each other, hit each other, fight, yank the covers off each other (either on purpose or by accident), or argue about who is invading whose side of the bed. Also, there will be no disputes about who is breathing whose air. Or whose turn it is to make the bed.

From a practical point of view, it’s much easier to change one twin bed and one wet child in the middle of the night than a double bed and two wet children — and remember that one of the two wet children will be indignant at having become wet by the actions of the other.

If the children are in separate beds, when one child is sick, the other can sleep peacefully. And if one child is a light sleeper, or tosses and turns, or hates snuggling or needs any other individual accommodation, it is easier if he is isolated in his own bed.

Further, a shared bed might be roomy enough when your daughters are five and seven, but it will feel vastly smaller when they are ten and twelve. Yes, fully grown adults share beds. But those adults are married. And they chose the bed based on whether they are snugglers or separatists. And they can always buy a king size bed if they don’t want to be so physically close while they sleep.

Children don’t have any of that choice or power.

Two sweet sisters who giggle and whisper secrets in their double bed is a nice dream, but you have no idea if it will work out that way. If it turns out that your daughters like to whisper to each other, they can still do that from across the room. But as they get older, privacy will likely matter more to them.

It is not always possible to have a room of one’s own. But a bed of one’s own is a meaningful private space. It is a personal sanctuary. It can be decorated to an individual’s taste. And if a private room becomes available, it can be easily moved.

And if your daughters don’t seem to have a lot in common, or don’t get along very well, a shared bed will only exacerbate the problem. Forced sharing does not, in my experience, have the effect of softening hearts. And relationships often flourish when each person has a little private space.

Finally, it is axiomatic that your opinion matters more in the furnishing of your home than you sister-in-law’s. So there is no need to buy a double bed just to make a point.

Do you have a quandary, conundrum, or sticky situation in your life? Click this button to drop Cyndie a line, and she’ll be happy to answer your question in a future column. Any topic is welcome!


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About Cyndie Swindlehurst

Cynthia Munk Swindlehurst spent her childhood in New Hampshire and her adolescence in San Diego. She served a mission in Manaus Brazil. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and from Duke University with a law degree.

She practiced law until her first child was born. She enjoys reading, tap dancing, and discussing current events. She and her husband live in Greensboro, North Carolina with their two sons.

Cyndie serves as the Sunbeams teacher in her ward.

Visit Cyndie at Dear Cyndie
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