A reader writes in a surprisingly common question about co-sleeping:
“I’m curious as to what your opinion is on the subject of co-sleeping. I raised my 9 year old on attachment parenting since he was an infant, and will occassionally find him in my bed in the morning. It doesnt happen very often, however my ex’s fiance who was raised in a very non affectionate household seems to think that this is very unhealthy. My son is a bright kid and highly affectionate himself, and I find that an occassional sleep over is fine. Your thoughts on this subject are greatly appreciated!”
My gut reaction is to say “different strokes” and tell the meddling step-wanna-be-parent to take her nose out of your business, but I won’t, because it’s disrespectful and because situation being reversed, you wouldn’t want someone telling you that your concerns about the welfare and psychological well-being of your step-child aren’t your business.
Instead, I am going to say that I think in modern Western culture we are all too eager to push our children away from our embrace, to create independent little folk who can stand on their own two feet and navigate the complexities of life solo. Look how mature my 7yo is, she can take the bus / order food / bike to school / be home alone without a problem!
The problem is, children aren’t adults with a height deficiency. They’re kids. And that means that they are still developing physically, psychologically and neurologically. Their brains don’t work the same way our adult brains do, they cannot process and react to things the same way we do, and that should illuminate our decisions as parents. Too often, it doesn’t.
Once in a blue moon, my older children will share my bed or just want to be in my room, more than willing to curl up on an air mattress so they’re in the same physical space as me, and I’m fine with that. If it were every night, if they were unable to feel safe in their own room night after night, that would concern me a bit, but if they can succeed at sleepovers with friends, then they’re probably fine.
I would say that in your situation if it’s just once in a while, maybe 1-2 times/month, there’s nothing to worry about and you should just tune out the step-mom. If it’s more frequent than that, perhaps you and your son should check in with an AP-friendly psychologist and see if there are any underlying fears that can be addressed.
Good luck and, of course, I’m not a trained counselor so please take my suggestions with a grain – or two – of salt, as the proverb suggests.