At What Age Is Co-sleeping with a Grandparent Considered Inapproptiate

Updated on November 16, 2010
J.S. asks from Scottsdale, AZ
20 answers

My daughter will be 9 years old in March. She is very tiny for her age. Some people think she is 5 or 6. Her grandfather (my dad) is very attached to her because when I had her, he was the one who watched her during the day for me while I worked. He works nights so he was able to do that.

Anyway, he lives in another state and visits often (about once every two months). Everytime he visits, he sleeps with my daughter in her bed for the whole night. My boyfriend pointed out his concern that my daughter is too old for that now. I guess I didn't realize it, but now I am agreeing with that thought.

Also, my dad bathes her sometimes when he watches her and I'm not home. I definitely think she is too old for this now.

I plan on telling him that she is getting to the age where she needs to learn to be modest around boys, even family.

My question is: at what age is co-sleeping considered inappropriate with opposite sex family members?

Does this seem off to you? I do not suspect anything abusive going on, but I am now wondering why my dad still thinks it is okay.


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So What Happened?

I had the talk with my daughter about this having to come to an end because she is a young lady now. She actually started to cry about not being able to sleep with her Papa because "everything will change now". I explained that nothing will change except that she will have more privacy. I guess she still wants to be babied. But I agree, there are girls her age that are developing. It just isn't right anymore. Thanks for input!

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answers from Hartford on

He still thinks it's ok, because he still thinks of her as his little baby granddaughter. I would tell him that you are trying to teach her modesty and explain to her that as she gets older the rules change a bit. I remember when I was growing up I was so close to my grandfather "pepere" and then one day i was too old to stay in his room when I spent the night and had to go to the spare room. There was never anything inappropriate just a very close bond between a grandparent and his granddaughter.

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answers from Anchorage on

I would say she is too old. My sons are 5 and 6 and they can bath themselves. Even the sleeping thing is a little odd. I could see cuddling a little before they go to bed, but it is time for her to have more privacy.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I remember seeing a show where the mom was co-sleeping with her son about that age and the therapist said it needed to be addressed.
Put your dad on the couch -- or your daughter on the couch.
And Grandpap bathing a 9 yo? I don't think that's a good idea. Watching? Sure. Bathing? No.
I'm totally not implying your dad is wrong--he's probably a dear trying to blend in & help out, but I think you need to initiate a few small changes--like sleeping arrangements and bathing rules.

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answers from Norfolk on

Sometime before puberty would be good. I'd have said by about 6 yrs old.
She's upset 'everything' will change? Growing up happens to everybody. Small changes come every day. You'd better start having some discussions about puberty soon or her period is going to come as quite a shock. Some girls your daughter's age have started already, although for many they are 10 or 11 when they start. Was your Dad bathing you when you were 9 yrs old? I'm kind of surprised he hasn't started getting a bit uncomfortable about this already. You are the Mom. Define some boundaries.

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answers from Houston on

awww, I feel sorry for the conversation that you have to have with your dad. But yes, you have to have it. The only man i would allow my daughter to sleep with would be her dad. And id never let anyone bathe her past the age of diapers, other than maybe to help to wash the hair, but past 5 is pushing it there too.

I think you have the right angle, the modesty discussion, and perhaps you can set up an air mattress to where your daughter can still sleep in the same room, just not the same bed.

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answers from Minneapolis on

This is inappropriate and creepy. He is not a parent, but a grandparent and a male to boot, so when was there ever an appropriate need to co-sleep at all? Certainly not to breastfeed. What's wrong with the kids sleeping on the couch, or a sleeping bag on the floor for visits? That's what my cousins and I did as kids when we visited grandparents. Never in their room, but us in the living room or guest room. In fact my gramps was even a stickler about bathing suits and being covered up well just to go to the beach...even when we were kids. He had nothing to do with bath time at all.

Ideally, grandma should have been in charge of baths when she was younger.

I take it grandma is out of the that case, I wouldn't put the child in a position where she'd be doing overnights alone with him at all.

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answers from Gainesville on

While every family is different, I think that there is a difference between those families that regularly share the family bed with older children and what you are describing. She is definitely far too old for grandpa to share her bed when he visits and give her a bath. While I am very open-minded, I find his behavior a bit disturbing. It could very well be completely innocent but I do think you need to put an end to it.

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answers from Honolulu on

A woman, who is friends with my friend.... when her daughter was 7... she mentioned to her Teacher that she sleeps with her parents. The child was just making a child comment as children do. BUT the Teacher, thought it was odd... and she called CPS on them.

So, just a scenario... that outsiders... may think. And act on.

As we know, many parents co-sleep with their kids.
But... at a certain age... some think it odd... or weird... and inappropriate.
And, you don't know, what the child themselves, are saying to "outsiders."

The bathing situation... well he bathes her when you are not home... maybe to him, he is doing is part in "helping" you. BUT... a child of 9 years old, can bathe themselves.

Does your daughter know about 'privacy' and how to say that she wants "privacy?" If not, teach her....

all the best,

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answers from Atlanta on

How did your dad raise you? When did he stop bathing you? I remember when I was 10, I no longer wanted my parents to see me getting in the shower or bath tub, so I did it alone from then on. Has your daughter said anything? This all sounds quite sweet, and it's really nice he's as into his granddaughter as he is. Until your daughter says something, I wouldn't worry about it. By the time she's 11 or 12, she'll make it clear she wants to sleep alone. How does she feel about bathing? Do you or your boyfriend bathe her or does she do it herself? If she does it herself, I would just tell him that she has really grown up and she's bathing herself now.

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answers from Washington DC on


I'm trying to be non-judgmental about this.

I personally believe that at age 9 a child should be bathing themselves. PERIOD. My boys have been taking showers on their own since they were six. I would look in on them - but overall - they were doing it on their own.

It's wonderful that your dad loves his grandbaby so much - but IN MY OPINION it's just wrong to sleep with a grandparent after age 2.

While it may not have happened - that "special" relationship may be a tad twisted. I know he's your dad....however, you need to talk with your daughter to find out just what happened/s when they are in the same bed. I know, I know, I know - but really?! (I may be letting my past experience cloud this - as my step-grandfather molested me from the age or 4 to 12). I NEVER let ANY child alone with him until the day he died.

You also need to talk to your dad and find out WHY HE THINKS it's still okay. This communication has to be started somewhere.

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answers from Provo on

My answer may be overly cautious, but I say at the age of 1-year. To me this sounds very unusual, and I have a masters in Human Development, most people would be suspicious of you daughter's grandfather. Personally, I hope and pray there is nothing going on.

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answers from Harrisburg on

At 9yrs old, it should not be a whole night sleeping in her bed anymore. Grandpa can still put her to bed if she is so attached, but he needs to leave after she falls asleep. He can start a new "big girl" bedtime routine instead. My dad at that age used to check in on us, read with us and then turn out the lights. As far as bathing her, that should be a big no no with onset of puberty and all. Most 9yr olds are becoming a bit conscious of that at that age, so I'm wondering if your daughter need to be reminded she is not a baby anymore. It doesn't seem odd, just that old habits are hard to die and your daughter will have to start growing up a bit. With your help she will get over the change she will be going thru not having grandpa to do what he used to do.

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answers from Erie on

I don't really have any experience with this, but I wanted to give some input anyway. :)

I think that your little girl has a healthy relationship with her grandpa. The co-sleeping thing is normal I would think. I remember being a young kid and sleeping in bed with my dad when my mom was working nights. It was comforting and to this day I have a fantastic relationship with my dad. Now, the bathing thing...well thats a little odd for me. I think at 9 yrs old she should be fully capable of bathing herself without ANYONES help. I think that she should start learning about being a little modest around the opposite sex, but she should know that she shouldnt be ashamed of her body.
I would just casually mention to your dad that she is old enough to bathe herself and that he doesnt really need to do it for her. Explain that you want her to be independent with things like that now that shes getting older. But let him know you appreciate how much he loves her, because outside of parent/child relationships, theres nothing sweeter than that grandparent/grandchild relationship.

HTH a little. Good luck with everything!

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answers from New York on

It does seem off - even though it's come up out of the most natural of situations. I know your dad probably only has the best of intentions towards your daughter. Sleeping next to a child can be very relaxing. (My husband and I always used to say that if we were having a tough time sleeping all we had to do is lay next to my son and we were out - not the same with my daughter she moves around too much!

But your daughter is officially too old now. Tell your dad very lovingly that puberty can begin as early as age 9 and before you know it she'll have little breast buds, etc. Tell him that you've noticed that other girls in her class are beginning and before you know it you'll be bra shopping and having to discuss feminine hygiene. tell him that you don't want her to percieve that sleeping with a man is natural unless it's her husband. I'm sure that once he realizes that she's on the verge of puberty he'll rush to agree with you.

You have to do this now - not later.

My son and daughter used to share a room - until my daughter was about 8 and someone lese suggetsed to me that they were getting too old.

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answers from Philadelphia on

If it was Grandma then I would be an iffy age but I don't think he should be co sleeping with your daughter at all.

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answers from Lansing on

Why don't you ask your dad why he still wants to sleep with his granddaughter, who by the way is on the brink of puberty. It's a little surprising why your daughter hasn't spoken up and asked to sleep alone.

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answers from San Francisco on

WAY TO OLD. Even though you said you don't suspect anything wrong here, she will be entering puberty and all that---it is innapropriate now. Good luck.



answers from Dallas on

I come from a touchy-feeling family and my husband is the complete opposite. I can actually see both sides. My older children have been like my parents and are often treated like that. I do think 9 is getting too old, however, I do understand wanting to keep them young.



answers from Phoenix on

yes she is too old, but I can understand her sadness because she is a kid. There are great books out there that talk about her growing up and the changes and if you stay positive and share with her other things they can do together. Come up with new things they have not done before so she can see that getting older is a good thing not taking things away. Going to movies, painting pottery, making crafts, planting a garden, writing a story together etc.



answers from Tulsa on

no i dont think it is off. when she gets uncomfortable or starts developing whichever comes first cut it off. instead of you telling your dad have her tell him. she is to old but I have known girls who slept with mom at 13. no i dont think its wrong but she is getting border line.

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