This is a very practical question -especially when money and space are tight. Can children of opposite sexes be friends and share space together? Some can, some can’t. The benefit for those who can is that sometimes they sleep better. They develop a special closeness. But not because they are of the opposite gender, but because of aspects in their sister or brother’s character that comforts them. You get to really know someone’s character by sharing space with them.
I wasn’t keen on sharing a room with my sister when we were growing up; she would have preferred her own space too. But we only had so many bedrooms in our family home. My friend Robbie shared one bedroom with his four brothers. His three sisters shared the girls’ room. Their parents slept on the couch downstairs. Everyone had chores to do and there was only one bathroom with a single sink. His siblings learned to cooperate. As adults, some of his brothers and sisters are close to each other, some are hardly in touch with each other at all. That’s the way it goes, sometimes in life there are no hard and fast rules.
In a case where there is sibling- on -sibling abuse, either emotional or sexual, that is a big issue. Any pleasant theories about getting along go out the window in a situation like that and should be dealt with immediately by responsible adults. Barring such intolerable behaviour, though, the question of room sharing between boy and girl siblings should, in my opinion, be part of family planning in the broader sense. The important thing is that every member of the family is comfortable and feels safe to express her or his feelings and concerns.
That’s why I’m an advocate of family meetings, safe time to bring everything up that’s working or not working in the life of the family.
If you need any help setting the course for such family meetings, please know that in my family counselling practice, these meetings are fun and productive. Family meetings take place in a relaxed, safe environment, usually my office. Kids walk out empowered, parents leave with smiles on their faces.