Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Division Of Space Between New Step-Sisters Is A Tricky Problem To Solve

Dear Tazi:

I only just discovered your column so you will probably print this after the fact, but here is my problem anyway. My Mom is getting remarried New Year’s Eve (2012) and the man she is marrying has an 8-year-old daughter, “Cindy”. She’s a cute kid, and I have nothing against her, but I am 15-years-old so I really have nothing in common with her, either.

Because my mother owns her own house and “Bradley” rents, he will be moving in with us after the wedding. Again, I have no problem with this so long as he respects my privacy and doesn’t turn my life into a Lifetime TV movie! My problem is that Bradley has visitation with Cindy one day a week (a non-overnight visit) and two weekends a month for overnight stays. He and my Mom have decided that, since Cindy will not be with us full time, she does not need her own bedroom. They are keeping our third bedroom/office as an office and expect me to share my bedroom with Cindy!

Tazi, my mother told me that I will have to give up my double bed to make room for two twin beds, and that I will have to get all new furniture to match the furniture that they will be buying for Cindy. The kid is only going to be sleeping over four nights a month! I do not see why I have to split my bedroom full-time or get rid of my stuff to make room for her! They get to keep their “study” instead of turning it into a guest bedroom!

I know that sounds bratty, but I have tried to make a calm and reasonable argument with my mother but it didn’t work. Bradley went all father-figure on me and told me that this was his home now, too, and that meant it was his daughter’s home as well and that we were to make her feel welcome. Like I said, Tazi, Cindy is a cute kid, but she is A) a kid, and will probably want to decorate the room like a kid’s room and act like a little kid when she is in there and B) she is not going to be around all that much. My mother told me that if I could think of a reasonable solution to the problem we could take that route instead, but I don’t know what to suggest that does not involve me giving up my space. Can you think of a solution – quickly? Bradley wants to go furniture shopping ASAP.

Soon-To-Be Stepsister

Dear Soon-To-Be Stepsister:

I get the distinct impression that you do not care for Bradley. While this may seem neither here nor there, it is an important factor in the dynamic you describe. You do not say how long your parents have been divorced, but I get the impression that for the last few years (at least) it has been just you and your Mom, and now there are new people entering your home and your private life. This can be a big adjustment on its own, but to add on the stress of losing 1/2 of your bedroom to a child 1/2 of your age who will only be there to occupy it 1/10th of the month…this can present an overwhelming amount of stress.

Try not to blame your Mom, but to see things from her point of view. She has just become a stepmother and is trying to make her new stepdaughter (who is going through her own stresses right now) feel like a welcome part of the family. In her zeal to impress this welcome upon both Cindy and Bradley, you are the one getting unfairly pushed.

If your mother and stepfather are adamant about keeping their office space an office and not a hybrid office/guest room, the only other solution is to put Cindy in your room. Personally, I do not believe that an eight year old should be sharing a room with a fifteen year old. Unless the two are extremely close, this is a recipe for argument and disaster! I suggest that, rather than split the room down the middle – which I agree is an unfair division of space – or invest in a whole new room of furniture – which can be expensive – that your parents invest in a trundle bed for Cindy. A trundle bed stores neatly under the main bed and can be pulled out for use as necessary. Hopefully, you will be willing to create some space – say two drawers worth – in your dresser for Cindy to put her stuff, and perhaps even a little bit of closet space, as well. This plan will allow Cindy to feel welcome without infringing on your rights to personal space, too. Furthermore, it will cut down on the problem of not having something she needs because it’s a t Daddy’s house, because with the exception of a few essentials she will be packing up her stuff when she leaves each Sunday night.

I suggest you show your letter to your Mom, as well as the response I have given; then, open up a real conversation on the topic of your personal space – and what I think are your fears of coming in second to your new stepsister.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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