My nine year old still wants to sleep in my bed. Should he leave it? | Parents and upbringing End-shutdown

My son, who is almost nine years old, insists, at least once or twice a week, on sleeping with me in my bed as our special time. We used to do it on occasion, but now he’s asking for it. further.

I’m not sure if it’s a phase, but it’s been going on for about six months. I also have a daughter, who is six years old, but she doesn’t ask for it. I know like the older kid, ey misses the time we spent together before she was born.

As a baby she was quite overwhelmed and had little help from family, who lived abroad, and a very neglectful husband. She worries that she’s coming back now that I haven’t given her enough of me. then i can make up and restore some of that unmet need retrospectively? Or am I missing something and it’s not really necessary since there’s something else going on? I know he does it more when he’s being scolded, so it’s his way of bonding with me again.

I hate to say no as it feels like a rejection as he’s just asking for time for the two of us. Then my husband gets mad and meanwhile my daughter hasn’t gone crazy and I’m afraid he’ll get upset at her because we’ve been without her for so long. What do you think?

You sound very sensitive and caring, but it also sounds like you’re trying to keep a lot of people happy, which is a shortcut to burnout. I also felt a strong seam of guilt in his letter; Guilt is the enemy of confident parenthood. Guilt is also the burden that mothers often carry when those around them have not done their part.

It’s perfectly natural for kids to want to sleep with a parent if they’re worried about something. We attend to our children’s needs during the day, why not at night when the world seems its scariest? It always amazes me that some people let their pets sleep with them, but not their children. I have always allowed my children to sleep with me when they need to. But that doesn’t work for everyone and I also say no if I feel like my need is greater than theirs on some occasion.

I return to the word confident. If your child feels that you are not safe, he or she may feel fine. you they need comfort and reassurance, and not the other way around (I remember a situation where a boy wanted to sleep with his mother after a robbery, but when asked, the boy really felt that his mother needed protection and not the other way around). As parents we have to be the pillar of our children: we have to be strong when they cannot be, not the other way around. Make sure your child is not being used to heal something in you. That’s not your job.

I went to ACP registered child and adolescent psychotherapist Deirdre Ingham. She thought her letter was thoughtful and suggested that it is helpful, when faced with these dilemmas, to think about our own role, perhaps an unconscious one that may be contributing to the situation. Perhaps in this case his son can feel his desire to repair the past by allowing him to enter her bed. Ingham became aware of the fact that her husband was/is negligent. That must have been hard for you. “Perhaps there is an opportunity here to join her husband in forming a united front in this situation?” We also wondered if maybe a halfway house would be for your son to have a small bed in your and her husband’s room for a while. Ingham also suggested that you check that nothing else is wrong with him, perhaps with the school?

I would also like you to invest a little in what makes you feel good besides being a mother. What could that be?

There’s nothing wrong with letting your child sleep with you (in some cultures, the family sleeps together in one room), but there’s also no point in stressing yourself out because you feel like you’re doing something you “should” be doing. You are in charge here, and as someone once told me: a mother who is always available is never really available. I believe that an effective mother must also take care of herself; martyrs are not good mothers (I’m not saying you’re a martyr!).

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Yes, your son should have learned to share you when his sister arrived, but he also gained a brother; Learning to share the attentions of others is a useful life skill.

My number one tip for parents is to get plenty of sleep, no matter how you get it, and don’t make bedtime a battleground. Because sleep is vital for healthy functioning. And all children grow up not wanting to sleep with their parents, I promise.

Each week, Annalisa Barbieri tackles a personal problem submitted by a reader. If you would like Annalisa’s advice, please send her problem to Annalisa regrets that she cannot get into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.

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