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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why Co-Sleeping Didn't Ruin My Marriage (Or My Kids!)




Basically every choice you make as a parent can be controversial, and co-sleeping is no exception. My own children have always co-slept, either in the same room or in the same bed, with my husband and I. I've met several co-sleepers who discuss it in a hush-hush tone, as though it were shameful to admit that you let your children sleep with you.

What?!

Let me say that I have no problem with children sleeping alone. My belief is that children should sleep wherever they feel comfortable, safe, and happy. If a child feels that way in his bed in his own room, great! It just so happens that mine never did. What I intend to do, however, is do a little myth-busting. (I enjoy doing that.)

Once, on my personal Facebook page, I mentioned that we were a co-sleeping family (no shame here!) and one friend asked the ever-popular question, "But doesn't that put a damper on your intimacy with your husband?" My response to her was this: "I have 9 other rooms in this house."

If you and your partner feel the only place you can have sex is at night in your bedroom, dare I say that having your child in your bed may not be your biggest hurdle in the sex department. That's all I'm saying.

Let's examine for a minute what makes a happy marriage. In the book called The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, these are among the list of things that go into making a happy marriage:

1. Respect between the partners.

2. Each person cherishes the other.

3. Each finds pleasure and comfort in the other’s company.

4. Emotional support of each other.

5. Mutually satisfying physical intimacy.

6. Expression of appreciation between the partners.

7. The creation of fond memories.

8. A feeling of safety, friendship, and trust.

9. An equitable division of household tasks and child rearing.

10. A sense that the success of the marriage is attributable to both partners.

11. An ability to express both positive and negative emotions.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. Nothing on that list is hampered by having your child(ren) sleep next to you.

Let me go a step further. I believe being a co-sleeping family has not only NOT HAMPERED our marriage, but STRENGTHENED it. There's something to be said about looking at your husband, both of you looking down at your sleeping children, looking back up at each other, and smiling with pride and love. In my opinion, it has strengthened our bond as a family unit. My husband works long hours, so co-sleeping provided an opportunity for him to be close to them, to hug them and stroke their cheeks, even if they were sleeping.

But what about the children? Won't co-sleeping make them clingy FOREVER?

Probably not, although I'm not going to lie and say my kids are super independent. They're now 4 and 2, and they still need someone to lay down with them until they fall asleep, and they need one of us if they wake at night, and you know what? It is my privilege to do so. You see, I realize that, in 10 years, I'm not going to be so cool to them, or so needed. I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

There have been a slew of studies on the benefits of co-sleeping, but I'm not going to be linking them up here. Chances are, if you're on a Positive Parenting blog, you've probably seen them anyway. The truth is, I'm not concerned with what the studies say. I'm concerned with what what I feel is right. Whenever I tried to get them to sleep alone (yes, I did try), I felt bad. When they are sleeping close to me, I feel good. I'm not selfish though, I see it makes them feel good, too. So, if we all feel good, and we're all happy, well I'd say we're all pretty far from "ruined."

12 comments:

  1. This is exactly how I feel. I love waking up between the kids. We cherish the moments we get to spend together. I have yet to write a post about sleep but I plan to do it soon. It's wonderful to share with the world that we share a bed with our kids and it does not destroy our marriages. :)

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  2. Beautiful! I feel the same way! And I'm glad more people are writing about this and busting the "myths" associated with this topic.

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  3. i agree completely! thank you for sharing...i rarely find parents who share the same co-sleeping beliefs as i do!

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  4. SUCH a fantastic post!!! Thank you so much for saying so succinctly what I always try to about my own co-sleeping family! :)

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  5. great story...we co-slept alot with my son. He needed it but my daughter did not. At 2 she was good about going to bed and slept easily through the night. My son had many nights in our bed and It did not create anything negative in our marriage. My husband traveled a lot as my son got older and many nights my son would read and fall asleep in my bed and it gave me comfort and him as well. I told my friends that i felt he would leave our bed when he felt ready. He's 18 now and a great kid, loves us, is a kind soul and will never for a moment question whether it was the wrong thing. I believe in families sharing beds. . it's a cruel world. . .make the home the safe haven.

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  6. My sister's kids didn't cosleep, and my almost-five-year-old niece still needs someone to lie down with her sometimes. Her bedtime ritual is impressively long. But that's just who she is. She's super sensitive and really emotional. You don't get to pick personality traits! I know of a toddler who, upon moving into a house with a bedroom designated for him (when he was older!) promptly decided he was going to sleep on the floor of that room, much to the chagrin of his parents, who loved cosleeping! I love that you made this about paying attention to who your kids are, who your partner is, the dynamics in your family. I coslept, and cuddling with my mom when I snuck back into bed at age 4 (by then I did have my own big girl bed) is one of my happiest childhood memories!

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  7. Thank you for this article. I love sleeping with my baby and DH.

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  8. Thank you, you absolutely summed up how we feel as a co-sleeping family! :) It just works so well for us, it's a family bonding time, wouldn't have it any other way. If my kids wanted to sleep alone in their room, I would be totally fine with that too!

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  9. We co-slept with all 3 kids for different lengths of time. My oldest NEEDED to be in his own bed from about 6 months, simply because he had SUCH an issue settling and staying asleep. If he wasn't in his own room then none of us got any sleep.
    My daughter co-slept for about 2 years...then moved from our room into sharing a room with her brother.
    My youngest co-slept for about 2 years...then moved in with his brother, although he still has one of us sit with him at night until he falls asleep (he's a snuggler) and occasionally winds up in my bed if he wakes up at night.
    We did a combo of in bed with us (when infant/nursing) and crib in our room.
    My 3 are some of the most independent, self-sufficient beings on the planet. Very confident and outgoing.
    And yes...there are plenty of other rooms in the house if my husband and I needed 'us time' and we had a kid in our bed.

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  10. We still co-sleep and we're not shameful. My 18 year old never did, my 13 year old never did, but my 9 and 6 year old boys must sleep with Momma or they are miserable. They crave human contact--I usually fall asleep hugging one of my babies, and that is something I cherish. It's not forever so my husband and I are going to cherish these special moments with our little boys.

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