My Parent Trap Move

The Question: Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us today?

Remember the original Parent Trap movie? When twin sisters, Susan and Sharon—who don’t even know they are sisters—tangle in a a power struggle, the camp director assigns them to share a cabin for the rest of summer camp. This week my daughters received their own version of that.

Each has had her own room since we moved into our new house three years ago. With their age difference of five years, they have few common connections, except that they are sisters.

My sister and I shared a room until she left home for college. Many of my childhood memories took place with sister talks late at night. Maybe I am just nostalgic, but my oldest will be leaving for college, herself, in four years and I fear they may be running out of time to develop their own bond.

Summer seems to show the strain in their relationship the most. Last summer I threatened a consequence of sharing a room if I didn’t see improvement. They repaired the fracture, but we all barely passed the test. I say we because this also was a test for me to see if I could improve my parenting skills from referee to relationship coach.

Now, the summer is two-thirds the way over, and some outstanding issues surfaced during our girl week while the boys went to scout camp. So, I said to them, for the last two nights you will sleep in the same room, alternating rooms on each night. Your goal—find what is good about one another.

Still, the competition started up again, and I knew it was time to stop threatening and make this move more than two nights. They would have to share a room. Tears. Tears. Tears. For each one of us.

What was I thinking? Why did I say that, especially when Paul was out of town. Their reactions caused me to doubt my decision. Was it right?

I didn’t want to do this, knowing the blessing their own rooms have been. And trying to rearrange all that for the start of the school year seemed overwhelming.

Then, I removed myself from the chaos of the moment, and I could think more clearly about how to implement this move. If we moved the beds right now, without waiting to create a perfect shared room, the impact would be immediate. Then, the move could be temporary while they work together to meet the goal instead of the threat of this as a permanent consequence if they couldn’t figure out how to meet the goal.

Later, they continued to complain. But their reactions didn’t sway me. Was I not compassionate about their concerns for privacy? Yes, but the spirit-filled guidance assured me it was the right thing.

They adapted to the plan pretty fast and forged together, at least enough to coordinate the transfer of stuff with beds in one room and activities in the other. Now we’ll see what the influence of a budding princess is on a blossoming teen and back again.

3 Comments

  1. Sarah
    Jul 31, 2008

    My parents did this to my sister and I when we came home from college… we’d shared a room before, but both of us thought it was the end of the world to assume we’d share again after being free for so long. But we survived and were happier for it in the end.

    She got married that December and I’ve been grateful we could room together for her last summer home. Someday your daughters will be glad they got to know each other better. At least, we can hope they will be!

  2. Rebecca
    Jul 31, 2008

    I’m the only girl in a family of five boys, so I never had to share a room until I went to college. My best friends to this day are the ones I shared a room with. You learn to love and appreciate somebody so much better when you have to share space and be mindful of another person 24/7.

  3. camille
    Aug 3, 2008

    As the sister who shared a room with you for so much of our life, I am proud of you for doing this even though the complaints and tears are hard. Do you remember building houses with our blankets in the dark? And on Christmas Eve or was it Christmas night – we’d sit in our room around those little Christmas candles and just chat. I have many good memories of our time sharing a room together. I’m sure there were rough times. Thankfully those memories have faded; all I can remember is the good! There is hope for K and E!!!
    I love you!

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