Dear Straight Talk: I’m 16 with a 14-year-old sister and 11-year-old brother. We live with our mom in a three-bedroom apartment with only one bathroom. Everyone needs to get ready at the same time in the morning. Our mom says she and her sisters shared the bathroom, including “using the facility,” and it never was a problem. Since we don’t care to, she says we’re “overly modest” and have “serious hang-ups” about bathroom functions. We aren’t shy about undressing in front of each other; however, we think it’s reasonable to want privacy for certain functions. What do you think? — Hung-Up?
Leah, 20: I shared a bathroom with my sisters for years and we were never OK with that!
Christina, 20: No way! Your mom grew up in a differenttime and circumstance. It seems the situations are identical, but they aren’t. You and your sister are your own persons with your own comfort levels. She needs to accept that and let you come up with a creative solution.
Nicole, 23: Your privacy needs are valid. Why not take turns waking up earlier? Then you both get time alone in the bathroom in the morning.
Molly, 21: Worry less about whether you should feel comfortable and more about what actually is comfortable — regardless of whether it is “normal” by another’s standards. Personally, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for your own privacy.
Taylor, 15: I am so with you! Wanting this kind of privacy is 100 percent understandable and, in my opinion, totally normal. I share bathrooms with my friends and family members for hair, makeup, etc., and sometimes a quick pee with close friends, but beyond that, forget it!
Matt, 18: My brother and I are stuck in a similar situation. It’s not unreasonable to want privacy, but, if you really need to go, it shouldn’t be a big deal.
Brandon, 21: Your mother probably grew up like my mom, where 4-plus kids shared a bathroom (one showering, one poopin’, one dolling up, and another outside banging on the door furiously for 10 minutes). I’ve come to be thankful for what little I have. Once you’re paying the rent, you’ll realize why people suck it up and have just one bathroom.
Easy solution: all dressing/undressing, “dolling up,” non-facility business is done in the bedrooms. Ask your mother to buy you a makeup mirror or vanity for your bedroom.
Colin, 19: The only rights you have as a person are the ones you stand up for.
Dear Hung-Up?: Feel better now? We get a fair amount of mail on this topic (probably as households are squeezed by the recession), and, frankly, what your mom and these other parents really want is to get to the bathroom faster themselves — for their own ‘private’ constitutional relief. Give them that and I guarantee you won’t hear another word about hang-ups.
How silly to label you that way! You are completely in today’s norm to want privacy. Some people hold a bowel movement just because they’re in a strange bathroom; put them on public display and, well, let’s just say, mountains will not be moved.
The panel gave you some good ideas; another is to tack up a sheet to separate the toilet from the rest of the room.
For sound-proofing, blast the iPod to “Feelin’ Groovy.” Even Mom should get a laugh. — Lauren
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