moniford's picture

mothers who let their children sleep with them every night

We have come into an issue with the childrens mother about where the children sleep when they are at their house. My husband and I have no problem with the children sleeping in their own rooms when they are at our house. The children sleep with their mother every night when they are there. The kids are 11 and 7. We have started to notice that when the 7 yr old is with us he behaves as any normal 7 year old, but when his mother comes around, he retreats back to behavior of a toddler. It has started to really become a problem in public places. We have tried to address her in making him start to sleep on his own and start to act his own age. She insists that there is nothing wrong and that her "baby" just wants to be with her so she is not alone at night, since daddy isnt there anymore. How do address this with her and my step son before his behavior gets out of control! HELP!

(mom on the sidelines)

2xstepmom's picture

My husband and I have been going through this same situation with his two boys and their mother. When it first came up over 2 years ago, we explained to the boys all the reasons it is inappropriate for them to sleep with their mother. Like you, they sleep just fine on their own when they stay overnight at our home. This came up again at the beginning of the summer, just before they turned 14 and 11 and are now the size of adult males. The older boy, who is now 5'10" and 200 lbs, told us his mother asks them to sleep with her because she is "cold" or "lonely" and this now makes him feel very uncomfortable. The younger boy who is 5'7" and 150 lbs says he sleeps with his mother most nights because he feels sorry for her because she does not have anyone to sleep with. Once again we firmly explained to them that their mother's lack of an adult male companion is not their concern. We told them that they need to tell her they do not want to sleep with her. The older son said he would but the younger one said he does not want to hurt his mother's feelings. My husband offered to talk to her and the boys asked him not to because they do not want her to get upset and after discussion decided to start going to bed before her. It is really sad that parents will put their own feelings and needs before the needs of their children. If yor husband's ex continues this practice, you may have to have a firm talk with the children as we did and teach them to have the boundaries their mother lacks.

acitez's picture

we are only hearing one side of the story, but the side we are hearing is alarming. Have you thought about re-visiting the custody agreement? If it were flipped around, a dad sleeping with 11 and 7 year-old daughters so he was not alone at night, since mommy isn't there anymore, we'd be completely freaking out. Even more-so with 14 and 11 year olds. In one of the strange disconnects we have with reality, it is more likely that these boys are suffering psychological trauma just by sharing a bed with their mom than it would be if girls were routinely sharing a bed with a non-predatory dad (which I have never heard of happening, anybody else know of any?).

I'd open my home to these step-sons, call up a family law attorney and get them out of there.

The seven-year olds' retreat into infantalism is a relatively healthy defense against being prematurely sexualized.

2xstepmom's picture

Ironically, the boy's mother is a child psychologist and thinks everything she does is right. The boys tell us they are no longer sleeping with their mother since our last talk. My husband's 23 y/o son lives in their home with his g/f and they are keeping an eye on the situation since the beginning of summer also. His ex wife would fight us tooth and nail for custody which would cause the boys a lot of emotional trauma and heartache all around. I understand the concerns you have stated but in this situation it is better for us to teach the boys to have the boundaries their mother lacks.

acitez's picture

Could the boys' dad bring it up with the pediatrician? I was thinking about this earlier today and wondered if a professional could deliver this information to the mom.

2xstepmom's picture

To update, the 11 y/o came for visitation this weekend and volunteered that he has been sleeping in his own bed for over 4 months now. He stated he is concerned that his mother will start asking him to sleep with her again now that the weather is getting cold. We all role played him setting up his boundaries and he came up with telling her she can get an electric blanket. Out of the mouths of babes.

My husband says the doctor the children go to has in the past not been willing not discuss any issues with my husband since the divorce. We thought of that route when the children originally brought the situation up and decided that teaching them to have the boundaries their mother lacks is the best way to solve the problem which seems to be working so far.

acitez's picture

Thanks for the update, it sounds like you have been pro-active about the situation.

OP (Monica)

What's new with your situation?

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

Sounds like the mother is the one in need of help. If she's lonely or cold, she shld address these issues herself, she shldn't put it on her kids to solve the problem. If though, it's the kids asking to sleep w/ mom, mom needs to encourage the kids to sleep in their own beds. I can understand if a child has a bad dream or wakes up not feeling well, why he/she wld seek out mom's comfort. However, to make this a permanent arragement is only going to cause problems in the future. I hope the mom comes to realize this. And is it really fair to say that the kids want to be there for their mom in place of daddy? That doesn't sound like the kids' thinking at all. It sounds like the mom's idea of coping w/ the loss of her husband. Not a healthy situation if you ask me.

backseatmom's picture

I am a mother of two children.I have an 11 year old son and a 13 year old daughter. They sleep with me because they choose too. They have their own rooms but would rather sleep next to me...Which I don't mind. I do not think its wrong for children to sleep with their parents. My children want to spend as much time with me as possible. I have not made them or would I have ever made them sleep with me. I am a grown woman and I can sleep by myself. I do for nine months out of the year. There is nothing wrong with it....
But I did ask my son why he likes to sleep with me and he said because he misses me so much and since we don't get to spend alot of time together it makes him feel safer. Its people with sick minds that turn it into something ugly....
I also think you hear one side of the story. You should ask the mother. Get her response.
Instead of jumping to conclussions. I know kids try to tell each parent what they want to hear to make them feel better. Mine do it all the time.

grammy5's picture

My Grandson is 9 yrs. old and is afaid to sleep alone. My daughter tries to make him but he will stay up until my daughter falls asleep and sneaks in. My daughter is divorced with two girls 4 and 8. The 8 yr. old sleeps by herself but the 4 yr. old sleeps with my daughter also. When it's his Father's weekend his Father (who is newly married) makes him sleep in his own room and the Father will lock his door so my Grandson won't bother him. It has come to the point where my Grandson will call his Mother to pick him up which upsets the Father. When he visits with us he has to sleep with me not even my husband unless I am with him. If I get out of bed he will get up to follow me. I feel very sad because he is so afraid of the dark. Need your imput. Thanks

aunt tessie's picture
aunt tessie

Usually when kids are involved in a divorce situation everyone nit picks about something. I don't feel there is anything wrong with a mother letting her kids sleep with them if it makes the kid feel more secure...if the mom is telling the kid she wants him to sleep with her than it is different...she should be telling him that she is fine and he is a big boy and should be sleeping in his own bed...maybe the kid wants to sleep with his mom because he feels the loss of his father at home and it makes him feel more secure being close to his mom when he is at home. It is hard for kids..they are expected to act one way with their mom and another with their dad and usually it is the new adults in the relationship that make issues out of nothing. The boy is only seven...still a daughter is six and still wants to sleep with mommy and daddy and occassionally she sleeps with us or shows up in our bed in the middle of the night. I don't understand what you mean by it carrying over in public..his behavoir. As far as addressing the concern it should be between the husband and ex wife and the child should not be put in the middle and the new partners should stay within their boundaries.