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Co-sleeping and a battle for the bed

Older children, even teens, are crowding their parents’ bed. Navigating nighttime has never been more contentious.


 

Photograph by Kourosh Keshiri

Ever since a dresser fell on top of little Gabriel and cracked his head open two years ago, he has slept in his parents’ bed. He’s six years old now, and the bed has become known as “mommy’s bed” because his dad, Tony, sleeps in Gabriel’s room down the hall. Gabriel’s older sister Michaela, 9, also sleeps in mommy’s bed because she felt left out. And the family dog sleeps with Tony, who felt crowded out. It wasn’t really supposed to be this way. “It went from one night to two nights to every night of the week,” says mom Francesca, who has tried to move the kids back into their own beds at Tony’s urging. “Sometimes I feel torn. They cry and get upset, and I think, ‘Oh my goodness, what have I done?’”

Francesca never imagined that her marital bed would turn into the family bed. But she is just one of countless parents who are sleeping with their children for all or part of the night. Every night. Fussy or breastfeeding babies, scared or restless toddlers, strong-willed school-age kids and even anxious teens, all of them snuggle close to their loving parents and drift into an oblivious, blissful slumber.

In some cases, their parents do too; they’ve accepted the arrangement, or have happily chosen it as a reflection of their ethnic heritage or “attachment parenting” ideology. But countless others don’t: dusk to dawn they struggle to catch whatever Z’s they can in between wrestling for covers and dodging elbows and knees. They wouldn’t bed-share if their kids gave them the option. These parents, known as “reactive co-sleepers” among experts, are doing this because “it’s the only way they can get everyone to sleep as much as possible,” says Dr. Shelly Weiss, president of the Canadian Sleep Society. “It’s not their choice.”

It’s the kind of explanation that is sure to agitate those already inclined to believe modern-day parenting is too indulgent—of course parents have a choice, they’ll say. The reality is, many parents are making their decisions on the best choice at bedtime amid competing philosophies about what it takes to be a good mother and father. Should you cuddle kids to sleep to foster security and cultivate independence or is it better that they be brave and cry their way to autonomy? How many times must an overworked parent get up in the middle of the night to offer a consoling hug or placating glass of water before it’s acceptable to climb into the kid’s bed? It’s the single-biggest problem that parents bring up with Denis Leduc, a Montreal pediatrician who co-authored the Canadian Pediatric Society’s position statement on safe sleep. “By far the two most common questions we get are, ‘How do I get them to be comfortable with falling asleep at night, and what do I do when they wake up?”

The matter of children not wanting to sleep is as old as time. But there appears to be a greater appreciation for it now than ever: “behavioural insomnia” is a relatively new medical term popping up in the scientific literature to describe the 20-30 per cent of kids who have trouble falling or staying asleep, and who suffer for it the next day. It is, in fact, the most common sleep disorder. There is increasing awareness too of the ill effects of fatigue in both children and adults, which run the gamut from memory and concentration problems to irritability, obesity and marital strain.

There is also a new-found expression of frustration among exhausted parents: the 2011 “children’s book for adults” entitled Go the F–k to Sleep was written by Adam Mansbach, an American dad enervated by his stubbornly wakeful daughter. It includes such verses as, “The cats nestle close to their kittens, the lambs have laid down with the sheep. You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear. Please go the f–k to sleep.” The book became an instant bestseller, and a YouTube reading by Samuel L. Jackson, a fan and father of one, went viral.

Its popularity might be due to the fact that in giving and receiving the book parents are encouraged to talk about—even laugh about—this very personal and contentious aspect of home life. Many of the parents who spoke with Maclean’s were reluctant to have their full name published out of concern about how their bed-sharing could be misconstrued. In a way, how a family sleeps can illuminate much about how they live. “Sleep is the first place where [individuals] start expressing their parenting style,” says Wendy Hall, a pediatric sleep researcher and professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “It is a cauldron for how people choose to be with their children, and so there’s a lot of controversy that comes up around that.”

Discussing their family’s sleep habits opens parents up to all kinds of uneasy questions—about their sex life, their ability to control their children and their children’s ability to control them. It raises larger social questions about whether nighttime has become a convenient substitute for diminished quality time during the day. And everyone has an opinion, welcome or not. “Parents are made to feel that if their children aren’t sleeping well that somehow their parenting is flawed,” continues Hall. “And people often present themselves as morally superior when their children are ‘sleeping well.’ ” Whatever that looks like for them.

In truth, for many families, bed-sharing is a night-by-night effort to lose the least amount of sleep and sanity, which are really one and the same. “It’s just a way that parents figure out how to cope,” says Hall. “And like anything that you do, those decisions have consequences, and they may be unintended.”

Before Alicia had her son and daughter, she had one view of how to parent. “We started out, ‘Oh, the baby will never sleep in our bed,’ ” she recalls discussing with her husband. But that plan changed soon after their children were born, and they couldn’t seem to sleep on their own. Alicia became “a basket case,” and eventually a piece of foam on the floor near the never-used crib became the family’s primary resting place. “Now my kids are 8½ and 5½, and we have all gotten used to a big pile on the queen bed in their room,” she says.

As the children have grown bigger though, that setup has become less comfortable for Alicia’s husband. Some nights, after the kids are asleep, he’ll switch to the master bed—and Alicia will follow him. Without fail, their son will quickly join them. “He has radar. He’ll make sure he has his hands in my hair, and he’ll get half on top of me, and say, ‘Mommy, I love you so much, Mommy, Mommy, I need you.’ Then my daughter will come in,” says Alicia, thinking back to a recent night. Like dominoes, the next move is all but inevitable: “My husband gets up and goes to the other bed.” Again.

It’s a scenario that Tracey Ruiz has seen enough times in her nine years helping families fix their sleep problems that she has a coined a term for it: “musical beds.” She’s worked as a “sleep doula” in Toronto for nine years, charging $350 for an in-home consultation plus $50 an hour for additional visits, which often include all-nighters. Ruiz has been surprised by the prevalence of bed-sharing between parents and school-age kids. “I can tell you that when I started my business I was focusing on families with children under two,” she recalls, “and just because of demand now I’m working with families with children under 10.”

While it’s unknown exactly how many kids share a bed with their parents—there is a dearth of such research—a look at behavioural insomnia studies suggests that about one in four children depends on mom and dad to get through the night. In many cases, that means co-sleeping. “It’s often the first thing parents do when the children are very young,” says Reut Gruber, a professor at McGill University in Montreal and clinical psychologist who sees families wanting to form new sleep habits. “They don’t have energy, so they just grab them, put them in their bed and reinforce this pattern.” For years. “It’s not a rare problem, it’s quite frequent.”

Almost always the arrangement persists for one of two reasons, or both: parents don’t know how to change it, or they aren’t really sure it should. “It is confusing,” says Ana Villalobos, a sociologist at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., who studies how mothers express responsibility for their children. “A lot of people start reading pregnancy books, and that gets them acculturated into the expert literature. Then they say, ‘Might as well read What to Expect in the First Year’—everybody has that. And people give people books. And pretty soon they have this whole library of expert advice, which is often conflicting.” Indeed, a study of 40 American parenting books on sleep revealed that 28 per cent supported bed-sharing, 40 per cent opposed the practice, and 32 per cent didn’t include a word about it.

Whereas co-sleeping with infants has been unilaterally discouraged by public health authorities for years because of its link to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), naming the risks of co-sleeping with older children is far more challenging. There appear to be no physical dangers such as SIDS, suffocation, or squashing a little body. And in families where everyone is happy about bed-sharing, or where it is a cultural norm, sleep experts are adamant that there are no disadvantages to the practice.

But among reactive co-sleepers, experts suggest there may be “psychological and family function” threats, says Weiss, a neurologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and author of Better Sleep for Your Baby and Child. For starters, it might stunt autonomy: “If children go right into their school years and even adolescence with the view that they can’t sleep on their own then it doesn’t really give them that sense of independence and self-control,” says Hall. “And that can translate into other parts of their lives where they don’t feel particularly confident about dealing with hostilities or other challenges.”

And then there’s the chilling effect on parents when children literally come between them. Some unhappy spouses, such as Peter (now divorced), admit to using the family bed as a “convenient wedge”—an easy way to avoid each other, even subconsciously. Others, such as Tony, miss the intimacy. “It’s been pretty much non-existent. I’ll mention it to Francesca, and she’ll get frustrated, ‘Is that all you ever think about?’ And it’s really not. I feel that we don’t have that closeness anymore. Husband and wife in separate beds, it’s just not normal to me.”

Francesca, like many mothers, sees sleeping with her kids another way: “I say, ‘They are small once.’ It might be hard now, but it’ll get better. Eventually they’re going to grow out of this phase, and then you’ll think back and say, ‘Maybe it wasn’t such a big deal after all.’ ” In fact, a theme emerges in talking to reactive co-sleepers: mothers are usually far more tolerant of sharing a bed with the kids than fathers.

Eva’s husband, Josh, sleeps with their eldest daughter, who is six, in her bedroom, and has for most of her life. Eva sleeps with their infant son in the master bed, and their middle daughter sleeps by herself in her own room. “It’s not a big deal,” says Eva. “It seems natural to me.” And since they don’t plan on having more kids, she is relishing this time with their baby: “He’s my little prince.” Josh, however, is ready to reclaim his bed. “I just don’t sleep well,” he says. “If it were up to me, [our son] would be in a crib.”

The willingness of many mothers to put up with bed-sharing for longer than fathers may point to a phenomenon that’s captivating sociologists such as Villalobos. Her forthcoming book, Motherload, describes moms increasingly taking on responsibility for their children’s physical, emotional and financial security when the economy, geopolitics and public health and safety become less secure. Safeguarding them from sleepless nights might be an extension of that.

She also suspects many mothers find their own sense of security in their children. “You can’t really depend on marriage to last forever. You can’t really depend on your job to last forever,” explains Villalobos. “So for a lot of women, the one thing they can think of as a guaranteed bond is the mother-child relationship.”

It’s a stunning analysis, and it may not be too far off the mark. “I enjoy the cuddle,” admits Alicia, “and in some ways I feel better when they’re next to me. It’s like I don’t have to worry about them.” But she also sees bed-sharing as a bonding opportunity for the whole family—which can be hard to come by. “For some people, co-sleeping is definitely a way to have the closeness that’s not afforded by the fact that everybody’s running from here to there trying to make ends meet.”

That’s not to say these families go to bed begrudgingly with their kids one night and wake up the next morning as co-sleeping zealots. Rather, they are making the most of their situation. “If you get home at 6:30 p.m. and your kid goes to bed at 7:30 p.m., then do you want: a) an hour with them? Or b) nine hours with them?” asks Villalobos. “A lot of people will choose b) because it’s a form of intimate connection and it makes [everybody] feel like they’re having a relationship.”

As a family doctor, Ellen is supposed to discourage co-sleeping. “But I don’t follow the books. I say, ‘Do whatever you thinks is right,’ ” she says. So as a mother, Ellen often co-sleeps with her five-year-old daughter, whose neediness comes and goes—according to what, it’s unclear. These days, “she’s kind of afraid of the dark,” says Ellen. “So I’m not going to fight it.” Partly Ellen is so accepting of her daughter’s desire for company in bed because she remembers wanting it too as a child. “I slept with my mother. I think I was 12 before I ventured into my own room,” she recalls. Ellen won’t expect any different from her daughter. “I’m sure she will end up back in her room when she’s ready. When the time is right, it’ll happen.”

Exactly when is the right time—or put more pointedly, wrong time—for a child to sleep with a parent is one of those questions that can make people squeamish. Many of the experts who spoke with Maclean’s know of teens sharing a bed with their moms and dads. Often, their circumstances are complicated by factors such as anxiety. But by and large, the consensus is that as children become less childlike, co-sleeping should end. “Certainly when children start to have their first signs of pubertal maturation is probably the right time not to [bed-share],” says Leduc, past president of the Canadian Pediatric Society.

Many reactive co-sleepers refuse to wait that long, however, and instead resort to professional help. Doula Ruiz, who also goes by the name “sleep teacher,” starts by sitting down with the whole family. “I say, ‘We are going teach everybody—mom, dad, the dog, everybody—how to sleep in their bed all night long.’ So the focus isn’t just, ‘We’re going to get Suzie out of the bed,’ ” she explains. Any items in the child’s room that may be dangerous during a tantrum are removed. Bulbs may be stripped from lamps and ceiling fixtures so the child can’t turn on the light to avoid going to sleep. And, with military exactness, the new bedtime routine is reviewed.

It is a lesson in the art of negotiation. The child gets to choose, should the bedroom door be open or closed? Tonight, mom will sit beside the child’s bed until he or she is asleep. Tomorrow night, in the hallway. Masking tape may be placed on the floor in a trail from the child’s bed to the parents’ room; each night, a parent sleeps on a taped spot further away. If children insist on being in the parents’ room, they have to sleep on the floor. “It’s a really fast change when you’re ready to commit to it,” says Ruiz. “Usually about three days. Two weeks and it really is a habit.”

Gruber has also seen remarkable changes, quickly. But first, moms and dads have to move out of their own comfort zone. “Many parents are very caring. Sometimes being oversensitive to your child’s requests can get you set into this trap,” she explains. So “what can be a great asset in terms of parenting can sometimes work against you if you don’t know when it’s better to give the child more opportunity to learn how to go to sleep.” Her message to those struggling with bed-sharing is singular: “Parents don’t have to accept that this is just part of having children.”

But many do, and they even sometimes come to like it. Eva and Josh have taken pleasure in finding creative ways for intimacy. “We’ve made it work,” she says, “and it’s kind of fun and crazy.” And Tony and Francesca have made a pact to start a new sleep routine before the kids go back to school in the fall. On weeknights the kids will be in their own beds. It’s worked before—in the spring, in fact. But once the family got off the school schedule, they reverted to co-sleeping. Francesca is hopeful the plan will stick this time.

For Alicia’s family, the bed has become a safe place for her children to share their feelings. “It’s like pillow talk,” she says. In fact, just the other night Alicia’s 8½-year-old daughter pulled her close and confided, “Mommy, I think I’m getting too old to sleep here. I don’t want to be alone, but I think I’ll sleep in the other room.” She was amazed to hear her daughter “sowing her independence” and sorting out her needs and wants.

All Alicia said was, “That’s fine, and if you want to come back in the night, that’s fine.” But all she was thinking was, “That’s awesome!”


 

Co-sleeping and a battle for the bed

  1. For parents who get stuck with co-sleeping older kids, all I can say is you made your bed, now sleep in it. Most of the problems in this article are familiar to me: a kid who doesn’t want to go to sleep, who wakes up during the night, who gets scared in the dark. Letting the kid sleep with the parents is a quick way out, but does nothing for the long term problem. We spent the time working with our kids to sleep in their own beds, and yes, it meant disrupted sleep sometimes and took a lot more effort. Still, they’re sleeping in their own beds, and sleeping well. Being a good parent doesn’t always mean caving to provide your kid with instant gratification.

  2. That’s ridiculous. We’re back to the Middle Ages??

    The revised vision for the new world…..’a chicken in every pot , a car in every garage…and everyone in their own bed.

  3. I see nothing wrong with a family sleeping together as long as it works with both parents and everyone is sleeping, We did it with both or children. Our daughter slept with us till she was ready to move in to her own bed which I think she was around 4-5 and then her brother started to sleep with us, he slept with us till he was 8. Both kids are bright, social and respectable kids. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There was lots of cuddles, giggles and stories. Why wouldn’t you want your kids to feel safe and loved? There are many cultures that do this without any thought. It’s natural.

    • When you say “why wouldn’t you want your kids to feel safe and loved”, are you suggesting that people who do not sleep with their children don’t want their kids to feel safe and loved? Are you certain that children that LIKE to sleep in their own bed and not with their parents don’t feel safe and loved? As a child who grew up with 8 siblings, I can tell you that sleeping with our parents would have been impossible. Further, I was never happier than when enough of my siblings moved out that I actually got a bed to myself.
      I can understand that a person wants to feel that they have made the best choices but let’s not pretend that these choices are superior when we know in fact that most children have grown up to be “bright, social and respectable kids” without sleeping in their parents beds until they are school age. Let’s also not pretend that “cuddles, giggles and stories” aren’t being given to children who are sleeping in their own beds by very devoted parents at bedtime.

      • You are reading WAY to much into my comment. I am not suggesting anything of the sort as you are mentioning. I am just stating what worked for us. I don’t think I am SUPERIOR. I am not a health professional, I am just a Mom. It worked for us and I am just simply stating that MY kids are not damaged in anyway by my decision. I don’t need an article or statistics to live my life I do what I think is best.

        • Sigh…no pint arguing with people who just cant think past themselves. This is why children are failing today. These monsters are raising them. Our children will have empathy, trust, and love.

    • This would be my response as well. I think it really depends on the child and the parents. Every child is different. I also respect parents who choose to not allow their kids in their beds. That’s their choice. I understand Penny160 where you were coming from with your comment “safe and loved” and for every child, that may look differently. As a parent, I didn’t “drag” my son into bed with us, it would happen after night-terror episodes when he was a toddler as it was easier for all of us to get sleep if he was in our bed. When my hubby traveled, my son sometimes would sleep in bed with me…..more as “feel safe” for both of us, than anything else. But we also didn’t have much difficulty getting our son to sleep in his own bed either most nights. He is now a teenager and very confident, social and outgoing. Even now there are a times we all end up watching TV in our bedroom before going to sleep at night. I don’t think there is a “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to this discussion and what to do. It’s all about what works for your family.

  4. It’s more probable that the parents sleeping with their kids have higher anxiety problems than the kids do. Letting the kids do what they want is hardly good parenting, and making decisions based on not having an emotional hassle is just childish on the part of the parents.

    • lauriej you are spot on with this theory. We parents have difficulty letting our children mature and they aren’t reaching the milestones in the same way we did. Very few new parents want to put their new infant to bed awake. They don’t realize that babies learn that it is okay to be alone and will not be afraid when they awaken briefly to find themselves that way. They return to sleep without becoming upset that their caregiver isn’t holding them.
      We parents are unwilling to let our children be independent as infants, small children, teenagers or young adults. We rob them of the pride that comes with being competent and having the knowledge that you are able to master more and more skills and take on increasingly important responsibilities. Perhaps we want to keep them safe but I believe it is like denying a child access to the swimming pool vs. teaching them how to swim. In the end, you have done your child no favors by discouraging them from becoming competent and increasingly independent. How can a child feel more secure and less afraid if a parent is continually hovering over them to the point that a child does not even feel safe enough to sleep in their own bed.

    • As new parents to a 10-mo-old, we completely agree. I spent way too many years co-sleeping in my parents’ bed, which left me with sleep issues and an inability to fall asleep on my own. We vowed that we would give our children the tools they would need to sleep independently at a much younger age.

      Unfortunately, the new focus on attachment parenting in our generation means that parents are deemed less than capable should they let the child cry. We have friends who have mentioned to us that it’s necessary to go to extreme costs to keep the child happy and secure, that any attempts to enforce boundaries (causing the child to cry) could lead to permanent emotional distress for our children. While this fundamentally goes against our beliefs, we were new parents who were hesitant and uncertain as to what was best, and this advice didn’t help.

      It took our son’s waking up 4-10x per night at 8 months of age before we realized that letting him co-sleep in our room wasn’t working. To the horrors of some of our friends, we read “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” and took its advice. The result nearly 2 months later? The little man goes down for naps and bedtime easily, sleeps in his own bed without a fuss and through the night and has allowed my husband and I to regain our pre-baby relationship. We cuddle and play with him throughout the day and also have made bedtime an enjoyable experience for all three of us. I don’t have the faintest clue what the future will hold, but we plan to continue to encourage his independent sleep in loving and caring ways. As of right now, he seems pretty secure to us, and everyone has commented that he’s the happiest baby they know.

      When I think of this fear of letting a child cry, I can’t help but wonder where it will end? Our son sometimes screams when placed in his car seat – he doesn’t like being constrained – but it doesn’t mean that we will let him ride around unsecured, or that we won’t travel by car when he throws a fit. I see sleeping in a similar fashion – we need to set a boundary based on what is in the best interest for our family. With love and consistency, we are hopefully putting all of us on a positive path.

      • Your car seat story is a great analogy. The car seat is about the only place where parents have to set strict boundaries and children have to adapt because it is the law. You are doing the right thing. With your second child, try putting the babe to sleep awake in the bassinet. You will probably find that the babe will sleep through the night at SIX WEEKS. No one is saying that you can’t have your infant in their bed in your room but it is okay for everyone to have their own sleeping space.

      • I think your response is a great example as to why it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to this issue. I do like the car seat analogy as well. You found a way to make it work with your child that you as parents can feel good about and it sounds like your child too is happy and doing well. We didn’t start out with our baby sleeping with us. He slept in a bassinet near our bed and then was moved to a crib in our room but away from the bed…..and then finally in a room of his own. As a toddler, our son did sleep in our bed off and on mainly due to night terrors…..but he was also one that didn’t have much problem sleeping in his own bed at other times…..other than the usual “I don’t want to go to bed” etc. So for us, it wasn’t a huge deal. That is why I say it’s not one way or the other as a solution, but rather both parents needing to agree in setting those boundaries. Our son is now a confident, outgoing and social teen. He still comes to lay on our bed every now and then to watch tv before going to sleep in his own bed….but he’d probably be mortified if he knew I was telling people that….LOL.

    • maybe, or maybe they just love their kids and have done research and chose the best parenting method based on their child’s needs…..hmmmmm. I guess we cant be educated though, right? We must be stupid to have a different parenting technique? You sound pretty hardened. Perhaps if your parents just loved you a bit more, you could look past your ignorant self?

      • Get tested for toxoplasmosis infection — you get it from cats. It makes women overly maternal and defensive.

  5. This is just sad. Parents need to quit swaddling their kids in bubble wrap and never letting them experience risk or responsibilities. It kills the child’s development into a fully rounded person and responsible adult.

  6. I truly do not understand co-sleeping. If it were not for the sake of marital love and intimacy I would prefer to sleep alone. I thank my mother for never sleeping with me as a child and I am giving that gift to my two boys. I will share everything else with my children but my bed!

  7. Co-sleeping with adolescent children? How adolescent! Years down the road, these are the parents who will be wondering why thirty-two year old Johnny is “failing to launch”, and still living at home.

    • Simpsons Season 4:

      Homer: I’ve got it all figured out. The baby can have Bart’s crib and Bart’ll sleep with us until he’s 21.
      Marge: Won’t that warp him?
      Homer: My cousin Frank did it.
      Marge: You don’t have a cousin Frank.
      Homer: He became Francine back in ’76. Then he joined that cult. I think his name is Mother Shabubu now

  8. People used to have larger families and smaller houses, so children would share a room and sometimes a bed. Also, bedrooms used to be smaller and closer together. And children didn’t spend so many hours away from both parents. I suspect a lot of young children’s difficulties with sleeping apart come from loneliness. Its a fraught problem that doesn’t always have an easy answer, but getting enough sleep is really important. If co-sleeping is helpful, then go for it. And if mom and dad are missing each other, there’s always the couch.

  9. I did this when I was a kid until I was 10 or 12 (Can’t remember anymore.) Mostly sleeping on my dad’s side of the bed because my mother was a bit grouchy at midnight or so. It ended on a trip to Florida, my parents kicked me out of their room in our rented house, and I spent a few hours crying and getting angry, before I fell asleep.

    From that first night I just started to sleep on my own, even after returning home. Maybe I slept better, or maybe it was because my reward was Disney Land in the morning (That may have helped a little :D ) Might have been that I just felt proud to have slept on my own for once in quiet a few years. Whatever it was is I kept doing it, so maybe some tough love is really the answer, so long as there a reward in the morning, just to iron out any wrinkles for the cold shoulder the night before.

  10. Funny thing about being a parent (much like a dog owner), they’ll run the house if you let them . . . . . . You have to be the pack leader. Sometimes that involves discipline and upsetting the little blighters (or not so little), and without discipline when they are younger, it’ll only get worse as they age. Crying themselves to sleep is not always a bad thing and really, if a kid only feels safe and loved when they are in the parents bed then I’d say the parents are failing miserably.

  11. Ah, it’s so easy to judge and hate. Relax, people. If you’re all telling us parents what to do, you’re really no better than the “experts” who also try to get people to follow their advice. If it works in the family to co-sleep, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. If you’re co-sleeping and don’t want to anymore, find a way to stop it. But please stop being so nasty about families that choose to. Everyone’s so free with judgement these days. Just….STOP.

    • True. But that might be because everyone feels that other people’s choices will have an effect on them – a negative one, when those kids grow up to be entitled, dependent, or whatever bad effects they feel that style of parenting will produce down the road.

      When everyone agreed on how to raise children, only a few were extreme deviants and were universally harshly judged. Now that there are so many radically different opinions, everyone feels a need to speak up about what they feel is best. Even those who aren’t parents have an opinion, because everyone has been a child.

    • Agree….parenting isn’t a “one-size-fits-all”…..

  12. Very surprised at the number of supportive comments here. Lets get real, life is tough and if you can’t navigate a bed in your own room, it will be an uphill climb all the way.

  13. This is a strange phenomenon. What about the husbands? It’s like they’re just kicked to the curb. I would have liked to see more of the effects on the marriage than of the mother child bonds.

    • I so agree. From what I can tell…it’s mostly the moms who see this as a positive or at least don’t attempt to change it. I know SEVERAL families where dad has been in the guest room or on the sofa for literally years. Mom is still sleeping with ‘her best girl or boy’ when they are 10 and 11. I know this because these are our best friends and they all have kids around the age of my daughter…11. My daughter thinks it’s really bizarre when she goes over for sleepovers she gets ditched for mom when her friend gets sleepy. She sleeps in her friend’s room (alone) and her buddy climbs in bed with mom. My god….they are ELEVEN.

  14. I really can’t see how having kids regularly sleeping with the parents can do anything but harm the spousal relationship. In the case of Tony & Francesca, I predict serious marital strain in the near future.

    • Me too. In my above comment I mentioned some friends of mine. I DO see signs in most of their relationships that the marriages are on the rocks. Actually, I need to fess up. Three of the dads have confided in me, as much.

  15. It isn’t our business to judge how family mechanics work, and telling someone what they should or shouldn’t do shows a narrow, judgmental mind. The comment section would be much more valuable for people to share their stories and not just point the finger on who is right or wrong (as that is completely subjective).

    • How about we get the inverse for these “morally better parents”? Please do tell, what is the divorce rate of parents that do no cosleep? Also, how about you tell us how many times a week/month/year these “morally better parents” are having sex – in their “marital” bed?

      I need some to judge today too :)

  16. So at what point do the children learn to sleep on their own and put themselves to sleep. These are very important skills. Unless everyone is going to bring their new spouses to the family bed…

    • Good gawd, can you imagine that! Hahaha!

  17. They make it sound horrible. I find sharing a bed with an infant and toddler natural and normal. A teenager…okay, thats weird. My 10 year old and 8 year old were in our bed until they were 2 (how long they were breastfed for) and my 3 year old comes in our bed sometime in the early morning. My cat is the pain the arse. She hogs the bed. I find it very unnatural and cruel to put a newborn in their own bed…no contact with their mother. What kind of world are we creating with that? Children that have no empathy and attachment issues. My kids are awesome sleepers, are independent, and confident. Cosleeping is the best decison for us. I have no regrets.

  18. There are numerous studies that conclude that co-sleeping is healthy for kids and families. I’ll bet the many supporters of this article’s stance are big fans of letting kids “cry it out”, too, even though it spikes cortisol levels for the rest of their lives. Bottom line is, if your instinct tells you to do something, do it. Millions of years of evolution are worth more than one subjective opinion.

  19. Whether or not your child sleeps n your bed, I would ask you to consider keeping any child still sleeping in a crib close to the parents if possible. Our neighbor had a house fire and the mom and older child who were in regular beds rolled out onto the floor and crawled to safety. The younger child, asleep in a separate room in a crib, was blocked by the fire and they couldn’t get to him. He died of smoke inhalation. My child slept in a crib and in our bed, but never would I trap a small child alone in a room in a crib.

  20. In my country, it is okay and normal if kids sleeping with parents.. me and my brothers slept in our parents bedroom and we are okay and happy :)
    We were moved from our parents bedroom on our own will..
    Now I sleep with my 2 kids, and to make our bed bigger, we put 2 beds side by side. so now we have a large bed and dont have to squeeze together.. it work for us !!
    As for me and my husband, we wait our kids to fall asleep and then I will move to my husband side and cuddle up with him :)
    We love sleeping with my kids.. I can hug them at night and woke up to see their happy face

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