I received a very interesting query from a reader:
I am looking for a little advice. I am contemplating divorce and one of my many concerns is the fact that I co-sleep with my 9 year old boy and 6 year old daughter (in my daughters room). I love sleeping with my kiddos, but, I fear I have made them a little too dependent on me. If I were to go through with the divorse, they would obviously have to spend time with their dad and sleep over without me. This, among everything else, is going to upset them greatly.
Even though I love snuggling with them, I think I need to try and break this habit before I go do anything else. I would like them to feel comfortable and able to sleep alone, but, I don’t know where to start.
My thoughts are…
I think that this is a tricky challenge, but certainly by 9yo, your son should be able to sleep without you in the same bed, I would think. Your 6yo, well, she’s probably ready to separate too, but it’s going to be difficult.
Based on my own experience of divorcing with three children who have been used to co-sleeping, I can only say that what I did that seems to have worked well is to let them know that they are welcome to sleep in the same room as me, but that generally I strongly prefer them not to be in the bed with me.
I can’t really speak for how my ex is handling it, but I do hear from the children that many nights are “sleepover” arrangement with mattresses all over the floor of the master bedroom.
That works for me too: in fact my 5yo has her own bed on the floor of my room and we start out cuddling and going to sleep in The Big Bed, then I move her once she’s asleep into her own bed for the night.
My older children are 99% self-sufficient and prefer sleeping in their own rooms, but they both know that if they have a bad dream, get scared, whatever, they can always come into my room and either climb into bed (if there’s space) or wrap up in blankets and sleep on the floor “so they’re safe”.
Dear readers, what suggestions do you have for this soon-to-divorce mom?
I co-sleep with my five year old and when her father and I separated we kept on co-sleeping at our separate houses. Of course, my daughter was a lot younger than this persons children so it’s a little different. Knowing what it feels like to be in a relationship that you feel is going nowhere and that you know you want out of is a tough situation and your children will definitely pick up on that. Mine certainly did. We didn’t notice any “off” behavior beforehand but the difference in her disposition after we moved into our own houses was astounding. We consciously decided to both co-sleep with her after we separated so that she would have that security from both parents that we are still there, despite being separated.
I would be tempted to separate first and continue co-sleeping until the adjustment has been made, so that there isn’t one big change after another in their lives. It can be traumatic to have not only the security of a parent that close by at night taken away, but then also the home life drastically changed shortly there after. This would also mean though, that the other parent should be committed to at least sleeping in the same room with the children as the adjustment is made.
Well.. if you’re looking for something to stop you from divorcing.. look inward… it shouldn’t be your kids’ sleeping habits that makes or breaks your marriage.
It sounds to me like you don’t like confrontation.. it’s easier not to deal with having the kids sleep on their own. … just like it’s easier to sleep in the kids’ room rather than spending time with your spouse to discuss what’s happening with your marriage.
If you are at the stage of figuring out how the kids will sleep after the divorce.. it sounds like you’ve made your decision.
Kids are resilient. Treat them with honest love and they’ll be fine.. crying is ok too.
I just recently heard the term “attachment parenting” and it turns out that is what my parenting style has been for the me through my 5 children. I had to chuckle a bit as I never knew there was an actual term to it, just something I did for my kids that was never done for me. I have 5 kids….22/20/17/8/6 and I love our wonderfully imperfect but extremely loving and close and honest relationship. Although it has never served well in my relationships with men…and at a time when I was questioning my parenting…I say thank you….I now know that there are other parents who have a similar parenting style and that makes me feel a little less alone. 🙂
I would not stop the co-sleeping right after separating. I co-sleep with my son who is 7. In the past year and a half, he has had to change schools, move (we lost our house), get rid of his dog, have his dad move out, and get use to the new schedule of spending every other weekend with dad. I figured that that was enough changes for now. Although, I do look forward to getting him into his own bed.
My son’s personality has changed. He use to be outgoing. Now he prefers to play by himself, doesn’t like to share, and gets nervous about new situations. He also hates school (2nd grade). I really followed attachment parenting so he would feel secure. Now I feel that everything I did is lost. Does that make sense? Anyone else have this experience? Does it get better? I want him to be well adjusted and happy. Any suggestions?
Oh my gosh! sleeping with your children when they’re 9 or 6?
excuse me, but it seems glaringly obvious that there’s been familial imbalance since the establishment of a discombobulated sleeping arrangement like the aforementioned!
I always thought some of the ulterior motives behind AP parenting had less to do with the welfare of the child and more to do with controlling the family. If i was 9 years old when and in the same bed as my mom in my sister’s room, All my friends at school would have thought i was weirdo (and i wouldn’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with that social situation).