20 answers

My Son Sleeps with His Dad on the Weekends.

Hi there, I have a slight dilema. I am divorced, and I recently found out that my 8 year old son is sleeping with his dad on the weekends when he goes to his house. My ex lives with his parents, and I also found out that when his dad has to be out of town on the weekends, my son sleeps with his grandparents. I don't know how to feel about this. I feel that they are not allowing my son to grow up, they still baby him all the time. He is their only son/grandson, so I can see him getting extra attention, but at home we try so hard to treat him like a "big boy." Am I over-reacting, or should I do something about this, and what?

2 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

I appreciate all of your comments. I have not yet decided what to do about this situation, but I would like you to know that it does create a problem at home. He has a really hard time getting to sleep when he is home, and usually gets up in the middle of the night scared. His bedtime is 9pm, but it usually takes him an hour or more to fall asleep. I feel that by him sleeping with his dad and grandparents, this will and is creating insecurities for him.

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I think it is important to just keep treating him like a young man and that is what will be appreciated in time. I wouldn't make a big deal of it, for his sake. Eventually, he may tell his dad and grandparents he is to big to do this.

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You ask whether you are over-reacting. But in return, I would ask you to define exactly what you are reacting to because I am not sure you yourself know. Of course you are not over-reacting. If you think about it, there is no such thing as OVER-reacting, but co-sleeping itself is not the issue.

Co-sleeping is not a big deal, at least on the surface of it. Children co-sleep with their parents in a lot of other cultures and the children eventually grow up and become adults. Drs. Sears recommend it.

You could count your blessings. A lot of children have fathers who just don't care at all. But you have an ex who seems to love your son and is involved in his life. The same could be said for your ex's family. It sounds to me like they actually care about your boy. What is the harm in that? Is there harm in that?

Perhaps these are questions you should be asking yourself. Or more pointedly you could ask yourself, "How does my ex's love for my son (1) threaten my relationship with my son, (2) threaten my idea of myself as a good mother, (3) threaten my idea of myself as right, (4) threaten my idea of my ex as wrong or a bad father/person, (5) threaten the justifications I have told myself for holding ideas about my ex and his family that are contrary to reality, (6) threaten my story of myself and reasons for breaking it off with my ex, (7) threaten my ability to dictate what my son thinks of me and his father?"

These questions are much more pressing than the co-sleeping issue, but it will take tremendous courage to answer them honestly.

3 moms found this helpful

Hi Katherine,

Co-sleeping has earned itself quite a bad rep in our society. We have all be convinced that, in order to raise independent children, we cannot allow our children to sleep with us. If we allow it, we believe they will become dependent on us and altogether needy. However, research shows that nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than worrying about what you can or should do to change the relationship between your son and his father, I would offer a new perspective. The closeness your son feels to his father can only serve to strengthen their relationship and give your son comfort, love and support during what is a difficult situation for any kid. This will strengthen your son, not weaken him.

I was recently interviewed for an article on Mindful Mama, that speaks specifically to this issue. http://www.mindful-mama.com/blogs/thrive/archive/2009/07/...

I would also highly recommend Dr. Jay Gordon's book Good Nights. (This link allows you to read the first 18 pages online.) http://books.google.com/books?id=QGDNVxVmc3AC&dq=good...

If I can be of any further help, feel free to contact me. You can also sign up for my newsletter on my website below.
Be well,
G. Brown, M.A.
Child Development Specialist & Parent Educator

3 moms found this helpful

My 7yo son has his own room and bed, but at least half the time we're all piled in our bed. Rarely 1-3 of us are in his room on his bed.

My best friend growing up was an only child of divorced parents. At her mom's, during the week in the school year or weekends in the summer, she slept 100% in her own room. At her dad's during weekends in the school year or weekdays in the sumer, she had her own room/bed but ALWAYS slept with him in his bed. When I'd spend the night, it was 50.50. Sometimes we'd do sleeping bags in her room or the living room...other times both of us would pile in his bed with him. If I spent the weekend at her mom's house in the summer...we stayed in my friends' room in her bed. I knew both her families very well, and they were both fantastic. Just very very different.

One of the reasons her parents split, was their differing views on child rearing. Neither were abusive, neglectful, or ignorant... they were just incompatible. My friend got the best of both worlds, because she got to live in each, :) and her parents had agreed years before that "my house / my rules" was absolute...so her parents never fought/badmouthed each other's style (well i take that back, there was eye rolling...but that was the most either of us ever witnessed...even though my friend said she knew they both "struggle to keep their mouths shut, sometimes." She would remind them, actually...saying "Mom's house, or Dad's house...their rules".

She was also super aware (she was 8 too when we became friends)...that mom and dad just did things differently. And both had positives and negatives. <grinning> She used the positives as ruthlessly as any child...but that's kids for you.

I'm trying to remember when she stopped sleeping with her dad...I think it was one of those gradual things around puberty. So middleschool...but they'd still nap on the couch together "watching a movie" in highschool. (aka...the movie gave them the excuse to not do anything for 2 hours)

2 moms found this helpful

I think you should leave it alone, what is the harm in him getting some extra attention, his life has been already turned upside down from the divorce and he probably doesnt get all that much one on one time with you. When my daughter(11 yrs. old) sees her grandma(paternal father's mother), they always sleep together, whether it be in a bed or camped out on the living room floor and this has never bothered me.

2 moms found this helpful

Well, that is how it is in many families. MANY children still co-sleep at that age, but the Parent's just don't admit it.
In many cultures, they do too.

BUT... I want to "warn" you... just make sure that your son or Ex-Husband etc., does NOT tell anyone that your 8 year old sleeps with Daddy/Grandparents or even you.
The reason is: when my friend's 7 year old daughter told her Teacher that she sleeps with her Parents, the Teacher called CPS... because she thought it was "weird" and inappropriate for a child that age.

So, just take that as a cautionary information.

All the best,

1 mom found this helpful

I would definitely speak with my ex about this situation and put a stop to it as soon as possible. It is unhealthy for an eight year old boy to be sleeping with his grandparents. They need to provide your son his own bed, or if that is not possible, an air mattress or cot to sleep in. If nothing else, they could put blankets or a sleeping bag on the floor in the same room. If he is scared to sleep alone at your dad's house, they need to get him a night light and do a sleep technique similar to Supernanny. He is eight years old, and the sooner he sleeps by himself, the better for all. They need to quit babying him. I would definitely talk to your ex and let him know this is not appropriate and that if it does not stop, you will not let him visit until appropriate arrangements are made.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is 3 and just started sleepovers with his biological father, who also lives with his parents. (I do too-my parents that is) My son sleeps in my bed, his bed, his tent, on the floor in a nest and sometimes on futon type bed in my room. My personal take on it is that if sleep comes and he's comfy it's not big deal. His Dad and I talked about where our son would sleep at his parents house and we agreed he would approach it in the same manner and do what's best for our kiddo.

With that being said, I understand how you feel. You want to maintain a streamline sleep routine for your son and make sure he's being treated like a 'big boy'. So, my advice is talk to his Dad. Does he have his own bed there? His own room? Is he sharing with Dad out of necessity or comfort?

There are nights my son sleeps in my bed for pure comfort and because he needs some cuddle time and that's no big deal in my book. Talk to his Dad and make it about finding a way to reach a happy medium together. Your son is older than mine, but I think this kind of topic spans the years for kids with two homes.

1 mom found this helpful

Eight is not so old. It's probably nice for him to not have to be the big boy when he is with his Dad. There is lots of competition for resources at your house. I would let him cherish his special time when he is with his father and grandparents.

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