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Roommates Who "Borrow" Your Kid's Stuff

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Roommates Who
Photo courtesy of Fleur Suijten, Stock.Xchng
Question: Roommates Who "Borrow" Your Kid's Stuff
Every college parent gets a call about roommate squabbles. This time, it's "My roommate is always 'borrowing' my stuff. Help!"
Answer: One of the most valuable parts of the college and dorm experience is living with a roommate and learning to get along. So roommate squabbles are your child's problem to fix. But playing the role of sympathetic sounding board can help your child find his own solutions. And sometimes your child doesn't want a fix, just Mom murmuring sympathetically. So it's helpful to...

  1. Murmur sympathetically, of course. It's certainly irritating to have someone take your things without asking.

  2. Gently ask how she has tried to resolve it. Has she talked to her roommate? Dorm RAs urge roommates to discuss room rules the first week of school for a very good reason. It not only sets up expectations for living together - "Thou shalt not play loud music at 3 a.m." - it also sets a precedent for discussing roommate issues down the road. Some people view their roommate's closet as an extension of their own. Others don't want anyone taking anything ever. And others are fine with lending things, as long as it's clear that things be returned promptly and in good condition. Clear communication is key.

  3. If your child has already tried talking to her roommate and nothing is working, do not call the housing office or the dean of student life. Your child needs to go to her dorm RA for help. Her RA is trained to do roommate conflict resolution, and this is dorm conflict at its most basic.

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