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Is it OK? April 05, 2006 5:22 AM

Hi all.† I am a divorcee and I have custody of my two minor children.† Jess is 14 and Ben is almost 8.† Jess has a really good handle on things, as she is well aware of what her father is really like.† Ben is so confused...and very emotional.† He has also recently been diagnosed with ADHD...another challange for us.† There have been many times when Ben gets sad, and has trouble sleeping at night.† I allow him to either "cuddle with mom" or bring in his sleeping bag and pillow and "camp out in mom's room".† I have been told my the school psychologist that he is getting a little old for this.† I saw no harm, nor can I see any harm still.† I think it is nothing but a very loving, motherly, nurturing gesture.† Is it OK?† I am open to any input from those of you in a similar situation or those who have information to help me clear this up.† Thanks!
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 April 05, 2006 6:51 AM

That is absolutely okay. Especially since you are only doing it on nights he is feeling bad. Donít let anyone tell you that comforting your son is bad for him.

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 April 05, 2006 7:16 AM

I agree with Molly!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 April 05, 2006 7:30 AM

Too old by whose standards?

A family friend of ours (another family that was friends with my family) had their son sleep nearly every night with them until he was 10... he's in his 30's now and a very well adjusted, secure daddy of three himself...

If it works for you and your son, then allowing him to feel safe and secure and comforted is way better than having him feel abandoned and alone through changes and challenges that being a child of divorce and dealing with the ADHD and such (and just the pressures of being a kid!) may be weighing on him....

To me, here's the crux... as long as HE wants to have this time and you are okay with it... then it's healthy (some would argue that according to our societal standards it's not 'healthy' or 'normal' for an 8 year old to want to co-sleep... I say pish-posh to that.. each kid is different and some, especially those dealing with changing family dynamics need to return to 'base'... sleep is just that too... our society has sleep mangled with sex and to some the idea of even a baby co-sleeping is deviant... some folks really need to get their minds outta the gutter.. )...†

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YES!!!!! April 05, 2006 8:36 AM

Absolutely let him stay with you! There's a belief in this culture to push our children away young so they become independent. I believe that it's only when our children feel that their needs are met that they will feel confident and ready to venture out on their own. Sometimes they need encouragement but your young son who is going through a challenging time needs reassurance and connection.

You are teaching your son it's safe to ask for what he needs. Being there for him and providing him a safe place is the most loving thing you can do.

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 April 05, 2006 8:53 AM

our society has sleep mangled with sex and to some the idea of even a baby co-sleeping is deviant...
Here here! this is so true and it is very very sad.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 April 05, 2006 9:01 AM

My daughter used her crib maybe 3 to 5 times all together and it was never all night. We did the family bed thing and loved it. Now she does sleep in her big girl toddler bed, but she wants to (she loves it).† If she didn't want to sleep in her toddler bed, we wouldn't force her either. Whenever she wants to be with us, she just comes in and sleeps with us though.

In all of history we have†only very recently started using cribs and in many places in the world, we still don't. There is nothing wrong with a stable, healthy, family sleeping together.

I agree that the sex thing has gotten into it too much (as stated above).

††††††††††††††† ~natalie~

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THANK YOU!!! April 06, 2006 7:42 AM

I just want to thank you all SOOOOOO much for your reassuring words.† I thought I was doing the right thing, but so many told me that it was totally wrong.† The gutter is a terrible place to be, isn't it?† I love my children so very much and want to be there for them whenever I can, in whatever context I can.† This little guy is so sensitive and so loving...and so fragile.† He knows he is safe and loved, so I guess "they" can kiss my bass! lol†
Thanks a million!
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 April 06, 2006 7:56 AM

LOL.. yes they can!

The world is a cold, cruel place... we all need a place we can center, ground and ready ourselves... our kids are no different! They need a place to go to recharge their emotional batteries, to center and ground... shouldn't parents be part of that? I think so...

I see so many parents either intentionally or simply by thinking they're doing what's right (by other people's standards or by 'societal pressures') allow their kids to find such a thing in things... or other people... I'd rather my kid to come to me and tell me about his day, vent and cuddle to ground any day rather than simply try to escape the rigors with TV and video games (as so many kids, it's MY belief do)... my son's sensitive too which doesn't always mesh with his peers who tend to come from households where "boys don't cry" and affection is shown with punches and beratement... it's hard to raise a kid whose home is contrary to their peers but hang in there... do what's right for your child and BE there for him...

I keep saying that with all the challengs my almost 10 year old has faced in school I really can't imagine what the teen years will hold... but I'm hoping that base will hold through and that he knows I will be here for him through it all... we only get one shot at being parents... I'm so glad to hear about parents who want to make the best at the one shot... sometimes I see parents in public that just make me cringe and make me KNOW that how I parent my kids has gotta be right for us... and in the end, that's all that matters... we can find it far easier to parent in a way we're comfortable with and find natural than one in which "others" tell us what to do... and how did I find myself up on this soapbox ? LOL... sorry! Didn't mean to ramble.

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 April 14, 2006 1:54 PM

My 12, 8 and 6 yr olds still sleep with me. Sometimes they begin in my bed, sometimes they end in my bed, or on my floor, but every morning I wake up with kids in my bed. The only kid who never slept with me was my oldest, and oddly he is the one with all the troubles. He also prefers to sleep in his own room.

I do not have set bedtimes in my home, or set sleeping places. Ny kids sleep when and where they drop, and they're well adjusted kids.


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I think it's fine! April 19, 2006 4:51 PM

Give someone a degree and they think they know everything. No one knows you son like you do. YOU do what YOU think is best!!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 April 19, 2006 5:04 PM

Hope... I personally think it is perfectly okay... I think that he has gone through some big changes... and he needs the reassurace that YOU are not going to leave him... to KNOW you are going to be there for him...

YOU are his mother... and I don't see anything WRONG with him snugglying with mommy! For goodness sake... he is ONLY 8 and is still a CHILD!

Our society wants kids to grow up so darn fast it pisses me off... their children... let them BE CHILDREN!!! And children need to be show love, affection and to know that their parents are there!!!!

I think it is fine... sorry, did not mean to kind of rant...but it is not wrong to love our children, to hold them close to kiss their tears, and to reassure their fears!

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Dr. Sears' sons do it May 04, 2006 6:47 PM

Just an FYI, if you go to and read the Diary of a Third-Time Dad (halfway down the homepage on the left), Dr Sears' son talks about how his older children often came into their room in the middle of the night to sleep, until the new baby came alng and starting crying a lot at it's not even us crunchy people that do it.

Here's the blurb from week one, february 24th entry:

"Well, we figured out a way to get our 9 and 5 year old boys to stay in their own beds at night. Our older boy often stumbles into our room around 4 a.m. and goes back to sleep on a futon on the floor. Well, Joshua is a major screamer during diaper changes. This woke up our son on the futon, and he covered his head with the pillow in a vain attempt to drown out the noise. He told us the next morning, "I am NEVER coming into your room at night again!""

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PHEW!!! May 11, 2006 6:22 AM

It is such a reassuring thing to hear what you have all posted here.† I love my little guy so much and he thrives on his closeness to me.† At night, we lay on our tummies and we take turns reading from his storybooks.† Occasionally, he tires before we are done, so I finish or we save it until another night.† In no time, after hugs and kisses, he is out of it and sleeping like a baby.† I think it is awesome.† I love to watch him sleep, too.† My little angel.......  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 April 04, 2007 3:27 PM

Hi - I'm a 47 year old single mom - I have 3 grown children and one 7 year old. All of my children have slept with me and breastfed etc..

My 7 year old still sleeps with me - neither one of us mind it and besides that we only have a one bedroom apartment at this time. The problem is my son has been getting in some trouble at school with inappropriate language - I guess talking about body parts - a boy in his class actually touched†my son's†private parts and him and a little girl were talking about "peanuts" and looking down at their crotch. Any way - the guidence counselor - made a call to child advocacy so my son could come in and be counseled - she didn't make an appointment but she got the information for me so I can make the call and set up an appointment. My red flag is up - not because of my son's behavior as much as getting stuck into the system. My concern is - is it against the law for your child to sleep with you? He is extremely bright - he has been called gifted - he has no academic problems - he just chats too much in his classroom and sometimes says inappropriate things. We've talked about this at length - but children forget - I have made it an exteremly high priorty for him to remember he can't talk about any private body part at all - or say anything that has to do with in appropriate words - he can't touch any one at all - not on any part of their body - I'm extremly stressed out about the consequences if he does forget - his teacher, guidence counselor and principle have their eyes on him - one bad slip of the tongue could mean they call DCF. Should I just start sleeping on the couch in case something should happen? I would home school him (which is what I've always wanted to do) but I can't at this time as I would have to work at night and I don't have anyone to watch my son for me.


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Ok!! April 05, 2007 10:29 AM

It is totally OK for you to have your son still sleep with you. My cousins slept in their parent's bed untill they were around 12-13. They had their own room and beds but still liked the comfort of thier parent's bed. Other cultures co-sleep and that is the norm there. Here in the US, it's a different story, you are told to let them "cry it out", not to breastfeed and not to pick your child up if they are crying, "you might spoil them".

There is a fanatstic book called, Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy-Kurcinca. It has been my saviour and also talks about co-sleeping.

Here is†a Harvard study about co-sleeping-

Harvard Researchers Say Children Need Touching and Attention

by Alvin Powell, Contributing Writer,
Harvard Gazette

America's "let them cry" attitude toward children may lead to more fears and tears among adults, according to two Harvard Medical School researchers. Instead of letting infants cry, American parents should keep their babies close, console them when they cry, and bring them to bed with them, where they'll feel safe, according to Michael Commons and Patrice Miller, researchers at the Medical School's Department of Psychiatry.

The pair examined child-rearing practices here and in other cultures and say the widespread American practice of putting babies in separate beds - even separate rooms - and not responding to their cries may lead to more incidents of post-traumatic stress and panic disorders among American† adults.

The early stress due to separation causes changes in infant brains that
makes future adults more susceptible to stress in their lives, say Commons and Miller.

"Parents should recognize that having their babies cry unnecessarily harms the baby permanently," Commons said. "It changes the nervous system so they're sensitive to future trauma."

Their work is unique because it takes a cross-disciplinary approach,
examining brain function, emotional learning in infants, and cultural
differences, according to Charles R. Figley, director of the Traumatology
Institute at Florida State University and editor of The Journal of

"It is very unusual but extremely important to find this kind of
interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research report," Figley said. "It
accounts for cross-cultural differences in children's emotional response and their ability to cope with stress, including traumatic stress."

"Parents should recognize that having their babies cry unnecessarily harms the baby permanently. It changes the nervous system so they're sensitive to future trauma."
- Dr. Michael Commons, Dept of Psychiatry, Harvard

Figley said their work illuminates a route of further study and could have
implications for everything from parents' efforts to intellectually
stimulate infants to painful practices such as circumcision. Commons has
been a lecturer and research associate at the Medical School's Department of Psychiatry since 1987 and is a member of the Department's Program in
Psychiatry and the Law.

Miller has been a research associate at Harvard Medical School's Program in Psychiatry and the Law since 1994 and an assistant professor of psychology at Salem State College since 1993. She received master's and doctorate degrees in education from Harvard's Graduate School of Education.

The pair say that American child-rearing practices are influenced by fears
that children will grow up dependent. But parents are on the wrong track. Physical contact and reassurance will make children more secure when they finally head out on their own and make them better able to form their own adult relationships.

"We've stressed independence so much that it's having some very negative side effects," Miller said.

The two gained the spotlight in February when they presented their ideas at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in Philadelphia.

In a paper presented at the meeting, Commons and Miller contrasted American child-rearing practices with those of other cultures, particularly the Gusii tribe of Kenya. Gusii mothers sleep with their babies and respond rapidly when the baby cries.

"Gusii mothers watching videotapes of U.S. mothers were upset by how long it took these mothers to respond to infant crying," Commons and Miller said in their paper on the subject.

The way we are brought up colors our entire society, Commons and Miller say. Americans in general don't like to be touched and pride themselves on independence to the point of isolation, even when undergoing a difficult or stressful time.

Despite the conventional wisdom that babies should learn to be alone, Miller said she believes many parents "cheat," keeping the baby in the room with them, at least initially. In addition, once the child can crawl around, she believes many find their way into their parents' room on their own.

American parents shouldn't worry about this behavior or be afraid to baby their babies, Commons and Miller said. Parents should feel free to sleep with their infant children, to keep their toddlers nearby, perhaps on a mattress in the same room, and to comfort a baby when it cries.

"There are ways to grow up and be independent without putting babies through this trauma," Commons said. "My advice is to keep the kids secure so they can grow up and take some risks."

Besides fears of dependence, other factors have helped form our childrearing practices, including fears that children would interfere with sex if they shared their parents' room and doctors' concerns that a baby would be injured by a parent rolling on it if it shared their bed, the pair said. The nation  [ send green star]  [ accepted]

 April 05, 2007 4:10 PM

Thanks for your comment and information - I do know all the benifits and I know in my†heart that it's ok but is it legal in our messed up society?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 April 05, 2007 4:31 PM

yeah, it's twisted to even have to worry about something like this...

The only thing I could find†with a limited search on the net was this discusion, which you may have already come across~

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Stephanie April 05, 2007 5:15 PM

Thank you - no I had not read that piece. I did however know about opposite sex brothers and sisters not allowed to share the same room after a certain age. I just can't seem to find any information about the law and co-sleeping - parent/parents and child/children. It is terrible that you have to hide this as it is very much looked down on but it is so natural - just instinctive - people look at it as perverted - I guess.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 April 05, 2007 5:29 PM

Much luck on your search... I went through a few of the search pages and couldn't find anything specific, either.

The one thing I got from that piece was the suggestion to call CPS and ask them what their guidelines are.† I don't know, though, I'd be afraid that the call would somehow put the spotlight on me... but I tend to be a bit neurotic † Maybe you could find one of those free legal clinics, just to be on the safe side, and get their input?

Hopefully, someone else with knowledge in the field will come along with some clear-cut information.† How frustrating this must feel for you, knowing that there's nothing preverse about it... I do have to say, it's very wise that you've decided to arm yourself, just in case.

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