Allowing children to wake up between mom and dad affects both the couple’s privacy and the child’s sense of personal independence. It has become an ever-increasing problem among today’s parents – children who climb into (or are brought into) the marital bed. It is possible that this is due to increased fear and anxiety that children feel as the result of a culture in which there is a prevailing sense of insecurity and violence which causes them to seek the feeling of safety beside their parents at night.
This could also be occurring due to feelings of guilt that affect many parents given their ongoing absences from home, and who try to compensate by indulging their children’s every whim, including their desire to sleep with their parents. At many times, the evening is the only time when they are able to see each other after a long and tiring day, and they use the shared bed to spend time together, with everyone falling exhausted into the same bed to watch television.
The child’s presence on an almost nightly basis in the parents’ bed is more than a simple annoyance for mom and dad. It begins to deteriorate the couple’s relationship. Not only do they sleep uncomfortably, often dealing with kicking, squirming and sometimes bedwetting, they also lose one of their rare opportunities to be alone together as a couple, enjoying intimacy and their sex life, resolving conflicts or speaking about grown-up subjects. Sleeping beside mom and dad may also have negative effects on the future sex lives of their children, further affecting their personal sense of confidence, self-esteem, emotions or personality.
For single or separated parents, the presence of a child in their bed could lead to even more serious repercussions in family relationships and the child’s emotional stability. Furthermore, the fact that the child is occupying a space that could eventually be filled by a new partner will signify an immediate obstacle in the relationship between the child and their future step-parent.
It is always preferable for mom or dad to go to the child’s room and help the child fall asleep by singing songs, telling stories or reading books. If the child is afraid to sleep alone, a parent should lie down with them or keep them company, staying until the child falls asleep. If the child is very frightened, s/he could be allowed to sleep with the door open and a night light on. The bed should be comfortable, the room pleasant and appropriately decorated…and better luck next time!
Our final recommendation is that it is always best for parents not to sleep with their small children.
Tags: home life, child psychology, sleep habits.