Three Concerns with “Co-Sleeping”

In conjunction with my Parenting 101 interview on WAFB on January 25, here are my basic thoughts regarding co-sleeping, which has been in the news of late.  I will expand on the post as I have more time and energy, hopefully tomorrow.  My Dad is in serious condition in the hospital, I have had a very long day of fairly intense work with clients in therapy, found out a dear friend’s daughter killed her self this weekend, and I am fried.  But I will be honoring my commitment to bring a positive word of guidance to the parent-viewers of WAFB tomorrow morning, and I wanted to have this available on line for anyone who wanted to reference it after the interview…

When I was at WAFB’s news studio with my son’s Cub Scout pack on Saturday, I saw the piece on co-sleeping, and I simply MUST respond in Parenting 101!  The families I saw who were interviewed were not parents of infants – these were “big kids.”

– I recommend making appropriate sleeping arrangements for children outside of the parents’ bed from the beginning.

– I recommend this much more strongly after the age of 2.

– I have three different concerns regarding co-sleeping, and the problems I see that can be tied up in this arrangement:

1. Children call the shots. I recognize there are some folks who are very intentional about co-sleeping, and it isn’t driven by the kids, but by the purposeful choice of the parents.  Fine.  But with so many families that fall into a regular, extended practice of co-sleeping, it is because the children insist on it in one way or another, and the parents do whatever their kids want.  Kids need parents to be in charge, regardless of what they think they need!

2. Family revolves around children. I believe family life is actually healthiest for our children when it revolves around the husband and wife relationship, not the children.  Of course we should nurture our children, cultivate healthy attachments with them, and work to guide them with as much personalized, hands-on leadership as possible.  But as our children move through and emerge from toddlerhood, they need to realize that neither the world nor their family revolves around them.  Orienting our lives and homes around our kids may feel good now, but it can really train them to believe that this world is here to serve them, rather than vice versa.

3. Where’s the marital intimacy? Seriously, not only how are husband and wife able to enjoy regular, spontaneous sexual intimacy, but how about making time for conversational and non-sexual physical intimacy?  Family cuddling time is great, and there is an important time and place for it.  But if that time and place is Mom and Dad’s bedtime, Mom and Dad can slowly (or quickly) forget about being spouses and lovers, in place of their child-centered roles as co-parents.

If you would like to get a much fuller perspective from a much more seasoned and widely respected expert, buy this book.  I DARE you to read it cover to cover with an open mind!

So, how about you?  What is your perspective on “co-sleeping?”  What are your questions or concerns?  If you are an advocate, why?  Share your thoughts with us, and let’s talk about it.

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