Letter: Concerns Over Co-Sleeping

Letters From Readers

My children are 10 and 12 – two girls.  Since their dad and I split,  my youngest wants to sleep in my bed at night.  At first, I let her do it but its been five months now. I think it is time for her to move into her own room. What do you think?
Thank you,
Michelle

Hi Michelle,
That is a tough question for me to answer.  I am not a psychologist so the only response I can give you is one from a mother’s perspective.
I think you did the right thing. Your daughter was frightened and wanted her mother as comfort.  She has probably has become accustomed to the sleeping arrangements, by now, of sleeping in your bed and it  has become her new “normal.”  You may want to have a discussion with her about trying to ease her back into her won bed.  Find out why she is afraid to be alone in her own room.  By this point, she may not even remember why.  Maybe start off with letting her fall asleep in your bed and once she does walk her into her own bed.  Another option would be for your to lie down with her in her bed until she falls asleep.   Try a reward system by making a chart.  Discuss with your daughter an incentive that she would like after she sleeps in her bed for a week.
Michelle, I promise you that your ten year old daughter will not want to sleep in your bed forever.  You can successfully move her back to her bed, but it may take a few weeks or months.  One thing I have learned, as a mother, is that taking cues from my children was always important.  They will move in and out of their developmental stages at their own paces.  I have seen parents force children to do things that they were not ready to do and all that did was create anxiety and stress for everyone involved. I always say, “Would you expect a six month old to be able to use scissors?”  The same holds true for older children when it comes to other steps towards independence.
Divorce is a fracturing of family.  You may have come to grips with the situation and moved on, but your daughter is trying to adjust to a new life; one which she did not want nor did she have any control over. If you remember this, you will be able to ease her into her own bed.  In about two years, the LAST thing she will want to do is fall a asleep in your bed.