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Making Room for Everyone

July 14, 1996|LISA TAYLOR

Parents naturally want the best for their children. Stepparents need to remember to be fair. "There's a difference between feelings and behavior, and behavior can be fair," said Stepfamily Assn. of America co-founder Emily Visher.

If children live with the stepfamily full time, they should have their own rooms or share a room, even though you may want your biological child who visits every other weekend to have his own room.

* Double or triple up. Bunk beds are staples in blended households.

* If finances and lot size permit, add on. So what if you have less room in the backyard?

* If stepsisters or -brothers have to share a room and want privacy, create dividers with bookcases, shelves, partitions or suspended fabric, window shades or even '60s beads.

* Designate a portion of a room--like a den, study or living room--for a child and make sure you personalize it in some way.

* Rethink a walk-in closet. A mattress, night stand and lamp could turn it into a neat hideaway for an older child.

* One couple reportedly used a trailer parked in their back yard as a getaway for Dad when things got too raucous.

* Make the best of it. The seven-member Earwood family of Highland Park somehow manages to get along in their 980-square-foot home. "We don't really have a lot of space," said Ketrin Earwood. "But we're practical people. It's all in our management--if you go to the bathroom, don't spend a lot of time there. I get up at 5 a.m., and my daughter does most of her routine at night when there's no demand for the bathroom. Whether our house was big or small, with five kids there would always be a logistic challenge."

* Move. The Earwoods nixed adding on in favor of saving to move in a few years.

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