There are many reason why my kids don’t share my bed. Before you start talking about how selfish I am, please consider my thoughts and research. While I have my kids in my room for the initial handful of months of their childhood, we quickly ushered them into their own beds.
Before I begin, I want to say that “Why My Kids Don’t Share My Bed,” was an intentional name for the article. I didn’t call it, “Why You Should Not Co-Sleep with Your Kids.” I do want to present our reasons so that people considering what to do in their family can weigh both sides of the argument. I am absolutely sure that there are families that co-sleep that remain very intentional in their marriage. There are also families that practice this that don’t make their kids the center of the universe. My goal isn’t to judge but to give you some food for thought before you jump into this practice for your family – especially if you are basing it off of the article I am referencing today…the article that was the catalyst for what you are about to read.
Why My Kids Don’t Share My Bed
My kids have the ability to sleep on their own. They don’t rely on us to be able to settle in. They develop confidence as they learn to sooth themselves and overcome bedtime struggles. This didn’t just happen. It was intentional, and it paid off as we insisted that we keep the marriage bed the marriage bed.
I have to admit. I came into this topic a little riled up. I read this article titled “Bad news for dads: Babies ‘should share mother’s bed until age three’ because it’s good for their hearts.” This is the article that inspired my response today. I had a visceral reaction to the title that went something like this, “Hell, no!”
My biggest fear is that moms, especially, will use this article as an excuse to put the children above the marriage.
Marriage Has to be a Priority
Too many parents have fallen into the trap that kids need to come first. The reality is that God comes first. The marriage is second. The marriage is supposed to be a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the church. Kids are the third priority. I know that is hard for some to reconcile.
Yes, we are to care for our kids, lovingly sacrificing to do well by them. Taking care of the needs of our children sometimes gets in the way of other responsibilities. For example, if a child is sick, your world stops. You care for your child. There are moments where your kids needs will take priority of your husband, but it shouldn’t become a habit.
I believe one of the best things you can do for the health of your child is to develop a strong, lasting, secure relationship with your spouse.
Heed this warning, if you abandon your spouse and your marriage as you try to achieve your parenting goals, it will be a detriment to your kids. Just read these 18 shocking divorce statistics.
Please hear me. I am not judging those who have been through divorce. I am not saying there are not circumstances where a spouse needs to seek safety and make sure that kids are being raised in a healthy environment. Single moms and dads, I don’t know your story. God loves you right where you are at and wants the best for your children. We know you do too. Although there are hard divorce statistics, it doesn’t determine the fate of your child. I just want to make that clear.
All that said, there are many hurting marriages that are hurting because one or both of the spouses have decided to let their relationship with their kids trump their relationship with the spouse. The spouses drift apart over the years and either divorce or find that, when the kids leave the house, there is no relationship left because they weren’t nurturing it. That’s not how God wants life for you!
For many parents, if they followed the advice of the article and let the kids bed with them until they were 3 years old, it could mean almost a lifetime of never sharing the marriage bed together. My husband and I would have been separated by a child for seven years. I know many more families where that number is much greater. My husband’s grandparents have 6 kids that span 30 years. Can you imagine?
This article claims that a baby’s heart might be more content. Read it here: “The controversial advice comes from a pediatrician who found that two-day-old babies who were placed in cots slept less well than those who dozed on their mother’s chest. Their hearts were also under more stress, it was claimed.” This one finding, in my opinion, cannot be extrapolated to older kids that are sleeping alongside a parent. That is a huge leap to make.
There’s another question at hand: What about a daddy’s heart?
Let’s look at actual statistics about what separate beds do to a marriage. While these reference separate beds, I’m going to argue that the same results can occur when a child is in the middle of the marriage bed.
“When spouses each sleep in separate rooms, nighttime romance — and even cuddling and pillow talk — flies out the window. Sometimes, separate beds results in less love-making and intimacy. A study in the UK, where one of every six couples sleep apart, two-thirds of those polled said that the practice had negatively affected their relationship. With fewer nighttime chats and no snuggling, couples felt that they were slowly drifting away from each other.”
“…research found two thirds of those sleeping separately felt it had negatively affected their relationship.”
Next, we can highlight some benefits of co-sleeping (with your spouse). Paul C. Rosenblatt, a psychiatry professor at the University of Minnesota, interviewed 42 couples for his book “Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing” and came to some surprising conclusions.
Co-sleeping is better for your health. His subjects mentioned seizures, diabetic shock and other medical emergencies that would have gone undetected if not for a proximate partner.
Co-sleeping is better for your sex life. “I talked to plenty of men (and women) who think that sexual intercourse is far more frequent if they have access to their partner,” Dr. Rosenblatt said. “If you want it, share a bed.”
Co-sleeping is better for your security. Women, in particular, feel safer from intruders when sleeping with another person.
Psychology Today pushes it one step further to say couples should go to bed at the same time:
“[C]ouples whose wake and sleep patterns were mismatched (e.g., an evening person married to a morning person) reported significantly less marital adjustment, more marital conflict, less time spent in serious conversation, less time spent in shared activities and less frequent sexual intercourse than matched couples.”
“The bedroom has to be sacred space where married couples share everything. The research is clear that couples who don’t share a bed are far less communicative than partners who sleep together. That’s bad because the best of couples — highly committed, highly communicative couples — carry some resentment, and even some hostility toward one another.”
Some claim that their sex life can remain vibrant and in tact because they can find other rooms in the house where they can be intimate, which keeps it exciting. That’s true, but you don’t need your kids in your bed to prove that point. Further, it’s not just about the sex. It’s about those intimate late night conversations that only happen in bed. I can hands down say that is where my husband and I have had are best discussions. Sharing a bed leads to more communication. Being in the same bed alone allows for cuddling and spur of the moment, middle of the next sexual encounters.
If you have chosen co-sleeping for your family, I want to urge you to be intentional about alone, intimate time with your husband. Please find ways to connect – physically and emotionally.
Concerns About Kid-Centered Parenting
Many parents these days have a case of kid-centered parenting. Life becomes all about the child. “It builds into their self-esteem. They feel secure. They develop a greater sense of self,” are the claims.
What it also might contribute to is a egocentric and selfish mindset. That comes naturally enough as it is. I don’t think we need to feed into it. The world is made up of many people. The world does not revolve around your children. They need to learn this.
Psychology Today talks of child-centered parenting and notes of the risks. “Child-centered parenting runs the risk of producing entitled, narcissistic children who lack the capacity to persevere and cope with difficulty. This is because there is a fine line between being ‘loving’ and being ‘indulgent’.”
Judith S. Beck, World Expert in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and President of Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, says, “These parents believe, ‘I should do whatever it takes to make my children happy.’ Ironically, many children whose parents hold this belief grow up to be less happy than others. They don’t learn to respect and honor the needs and desires of other people. They believe the world owes them something. They get easily frustrated when thwarted. They handle disappointment poorly. They expect that everything should go their way. That quotes was taken from this article at Huffington Post.
I love everything that Kristen Welch at We Are that Family says, so you might enjoy her article about the problem with child-centered parenting.
Yes, your kids need to be nurtured and cared for. We want our kids in a stable environment where they are loved and supported. Discovering who they are as individuals and supporting their pursuits is all part of the parent’s job description. We are there to teach, to feed, and to help. Moms and dads wipe bottoms, make lunches, help with homework, cheer at sporting events, drive to school, do their hair, put bandaids on their scrapes and read bedtime stories. I’m not suggesting we neglect our duties.
I do know enough about child-centered parenting to know that it does not resonate with how I want to raise my kids. There might be bits and pieces to grab from the theory but it does not have the backing from legitimate studies.
I believe an adult is given authority over a child, where an adult has a responsibility to teach, care for and love in a warm and yet firm way. Studies (you can read “Brain Rules for Babies” to learn more – affiliate link provided) have shown that the authoritative approach to parenting is the most effective. From what I have read child-centered parenting tends to gravitate to the permissive box.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines child-centered parenting like this:
Do you see any problem with that? Want a more global minded citizens who thinks about others, has empathy and can contribute to the needs of those around them. That cannot happen if your end goal is to teach a child that their “needs and wishes are the most important thing.” Kids will get one surprise when they enter the real world to discover that their friends, teachers and bosses do not bend to their every whim. There is something super flawed in that philosophy. Here’s what I think we can do to better raise kids in this already established selfie generation.
Why My Kids Don’t Share My Bed
The article I’m referencing makes this claim: “Sleeping alone makes it harder for mother and child to bond – and damages the development of the brain, leading to bad behavior as the child grows up, researchers fear.” The article fails to site any study that backs the claim. The article further implies that to prevent this damage from happening, a child should stay in a parent’s bed until age 3 or 4. From personal experience and those I know who are high functioning contributors of society, I cannot imagine that this brain damage can be substantiated. Perhaps more studies need to be done.
I think my biggest fear in articles like this is that is that parents take two pieces of info – that babies heart rates are less stressed when they sleep on their mom at two weeks and an unsupported claim that having a child sleep alone damages their brain – and use that as a philosophy that could actually hinder their kids and damage their marriage relationship. In some families, they want their kids close. They want their kids as the center of the universe. They may even want an excuse to be less intimate with their husband, so they put all their eggs in this basket. That’s a risk I’m not willing to take. Are you?
If you need help re-claiming your bed, Web MD has you covered.