August 09, 2008,
L.W. asks from Minneapolis, MN on August 06, 2008
Son Sleeping with Mother
My question was originally just how long is it appropriate to have a boy,(now 4 years 11 months old)continue sleeping with his mother(27)? Being grandparents, we just wish our grandson could occassionally spend more time with us; like overnights. Our son doesn't even get to have him for overnights when he comes home for the weekend from out of state once a month. He just goes and picks his son up and has him for a few hours and returns him so the mom can sleep with their son. They have been separated 1 year.
So What Happened?™
I am very grateful to the many shared responses I have received!
D.G. answers from Minneapolis on August 07, 2008
LW - My question to you, does he sleep in his own bed most of the time or is he in bed with you all the time? My son spent a number of hours in bed with my husband and me. He usually walked in to our room in the middle of the night and I would put him in bed with us just so i could get some sleep. I was working a corporate job at the time and needed rest! But every night he went to sleep in his own bed. He's now 15 1/2 and still loves to jump in our bed from time to time. He still claims the middle of the bed as "his spot." Plus he's now taller than his dad! It's a good feeling now that your almost 16 year old son wants to be with you!
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A.R. answers from Minneapolis on August 09, 2008
Considering that in countries all over the world children sleep (eat, socialize, bathe...) with their parents in one room (or even one bed) homes, it is easy to wonder why we obsess about these things here in North America. There is no formula for this LW, just common sense. When a child is ready to leave the bed, they will leave OR when the mother is ready to have her bed back she will demand it (gently I'm sure).
Don't focus so much on the gender of the child. All children need to feel safe.
Boys are often singled out as not needing a mother's safety... Perhaps if we allow them to stay safe when they are young, they wouldn't feel so compelled to start wars when they grow up.
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H.T. answers from Minneapolis on August 07, 2008
Given the circumstances that his parents are seperated & Dad is only around once a month, I'd say he should sleep wherever his is the most comfortable. Unless the Mom is forcing him to sleep with her.
Think about this from the boy's perspective. Dad is gone most of the time & Mom is seen as security. You son is most likely the best Dad in the world, but he is not there everyday. And at the boy's age, he doesn't understand that.
Parents seperating/divorcing is very hard on kids no matter what the situation is or how the parents get along. My parents divorced when I was young also, it is still hard.
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K.K. answers from Minneapolis on August 07, 2008
A friend's son slept with her and her husband until he was 8.
No big deal, in my book. Our 3 year old sneaks into our bed every night. I think our culture sexualizes and worries about stuff like this that is pretty normal in other cultures.
K.S. answers from Minneapolis on August 07, 2008
I wouldn't worry about it and I wouldn't say a word. Our almost 5yo son often sleeps in our bed. He just feels closer to us there. He is extremely independent and confident in his activities, but at night he just likes to be able to snuggle. Sometimes I move him back to his own bed so I can sleep better and sometimes we leave him be.
C.L. answers from Minneapolis on August 07, 2008
I wouldn't worry about it and I wouldn't say anything about it. Our son, now 12, climbed into our bed in the middle of the night off and on until he was 9. He started in his own bed, but would wake up scared in the night and felt more comfortable in our bed. Sometimes we'd bring him back to his bed just because he was getting big and would thrash a lot, but we didn't hassle him about it or make him try to stop. He stopped climbing into our bed on his own sometime when he was 9 and now he sleeps like a teenager! I was worried he'd never be able to sleep on his own, but he has no trouble falling asleep by himself, sleeps soundly and sleeps late! Our 8-year-old has never been one to crawl into our bed, but if he has a nightmare or wakes up scared he likes someone to crawl into his bed with him. I am glad he still feels connected to us and that we can help calm his fears. If you say something to your daughter or DIL she might perceive it as criticism and it might make her defensive or harm your relationship. In my opinion, 4 (almost 5) is still pretty little and he just needs a little extra comfort. Also, is there anything going on in their lives that might be causing him stress? Changes to the routine? That can have a significant impact on sleep.
B.H. answers from Minneapolis on August 06, 2008
I see nothing wrong with it. People will say it makes a child less independant I disagree.
My daughter slept in my bed from birth-6.5 years old. Now she sleeps in her room or on my floor depending on her mood where she feels like sleeping. I was a single mom too. I've never made a big deal about it and whens she was roughly 6years old she decided on her own to start sleeping in her room. Maybe I was lazy, exhausted or just liked co-sleeping but it was so much easier to just climb in bed together then put her to bed and deal with the whole bedtime fights other parents deal with.
My lil brother use to sleep in my dad's bed when he had weekend visits with my dad and around age9 or so decided on his own he was to big and decided to sleep in his room as well.
Maybe since your son left your grandson's been through alot and has had alot of changes in his life and right now might not be a great time to change his sleeping pattern/routine.
I love co-sleeping it was great for my daughter and I. We were always so busy it was the one time of day we got snuggle and bond. My Grandma was always on my butt about it too she'd find a article in the newspaper about it and mail it to me etc. She kept saying I was harming my daughter and my daughter would not be independant. Seriously I can't think of a single negative thing that came from it.
If your just knit-picking your grandson's mom your gonna open a can of worms. You may not like her or who she is but until she's really harming your grandson or neglecting him I'd let little stuff like this go.
L.G. answers from Minneapolis on August 07, 2008
In many cultures, children sleep with their parents until they are quite old....at least twice the age your grandson is now. Just because we don't see or hear of it that much here in the USA doesn't mean that it's not right. We also really never hear of other mother's breastfeeding another woman's baby on occasion, but it happens all the time in other cultures.
Bottom line, this is a matter that should be decided by the mother and with all due respect, grandmothers (as well meaning as they may be) should kindly keep their opinions to themselves.
B. answers from Minneapolis on August 06, 2008
Healthy or not you shouldn't comment about it to anyone. You'll risk being able to keep a relationship with your grandson if his mother feels like you are judging her and talking about her behind her back.
T.C. answers from Minneapolis on August 07, 2008
I tend to have a different opinion than many other posters. I think that eventually the child needs to learn how to be independent--even when sleeping. I'm not sure of a definite age that I think it should be stopped, but I do think that by the time the child is going to school, it is high time that they be able to sleep alone. What happens if other children in the classroom hear about this and start making fun of him? What happens if he is invited over for a sleepover and can't have his mother there? It may be a habit more difficult to stop the longer it goes on. Do I think that this will cause permanent damage? No. To each their own. While I appreciate the other posters' point of view, I teach my children independence and self-sufficiency starting at a very young age and not allowing co-sleeping is one way I do this. I hope this helps to give a balanced view of the matter...
A side note: Although this may be acceptable in other cultures until the child is much older, we live in America and have to deal with what OUR society thinks is acceptable. We are all free to do what we think is best for our child, but that doesn't mean that an older son still sleeping with his mother at night won't raise a few eyebrows. It's just the way it is.
I would agree with the other poster who said to be careful about how you approach this situation... As mothers, we all know how difficult it is to hear criticism about our parenting techniques. Mothers know what's best for their own children, and I'm sure your daughter (or daughter-in-law) has her son's best interest at heart. Tread lightly!
C.K. answers from Minneapolis on August 07, 2008
LW, thanks for editing your post! Your initial post did not tell the full story.
If your son does not have formal, court-ordered visitation rights, he needs to get them, NOW. This is not about co-sleeping, it's about control.
Your son is entitled to overnight visitation. Your daughter-in-law is grasping at whatever lame excuse she can to make life harder for your son and your family. Your son needs to put his foot down.
It is not unreasonable to expect that a 4 1/2 year old boy can stay away from his mother for a night or two. If your son doesn't mind, your grandson can sleep with him when he stays over.