I want to warn everybody that this is a sensitive topic for me. So I kindly ask people not to be jerks in their comments. If you have a burning need to share the story of how you sleep in the same bed with your child and that child totally digs it, I ask you to take this story elsewhere. Here, it will bring you no applause.
Every form of emotional abuse of children comes out of the parental incapacity to see children as separate human beings. There is nothing more dangerous to a child’s psyche than a parent who sees that child as an extension of him or herself. Parents often invade the personal space of their children in ways they would have never allowed themselves to employ in respect to other adults. Putting children to sleep in the same bed with themselves is one of the most egregious invasions of a child’s personal space that a parent can come up with.
Children start exploring their bodies and masturbating early in life. Obviously, it cannot be very healthy for a person’s developing sexuality to experience his or her first instances of sexual arousal in the same bed with the parents.
At the same time, adults normally have erotic dreams. (Whether you remember them or not is, of course, completely immaterial.) It is also hardly a good thing for a child to wake up and observe a parent who is orgasming in his or her sleep.
One of the greatest challenges on the road to a healthy sexuality for both men and women is to learn to select partners exclusively on the basis of their own sexual desire. Parents who drag children into bed with them exercise their authority over the children in order to service their own tactile needs. Later on in life, such children have absolutely no idea how to reject unwanted tactile contacts.
There is a mile-long list of justifications parents who practice the so-called co-sleeping have come up with to excuse their invasion of the personal space of their miserable children. I read such lists a couple of times and they made my hair stand on end. There are people who seriously say that sleeping with children is acceptable because it allows them to save on heating. Truly, the hypocrisy of child abusers knows no bounds.
The only real reason why adults drag children into bed with them is because they are incapable of developing a relationship with another adult(s) to satisfy their tactile needs. To put it bluntly, they can’t persuade anybody to touch them as much as they need and to share personal space with them, so they use the only people who cannot refuse them, their unfortunate children. And if those children then have to spend the rest of their lives trying to deal with the emotional and sexual problems they develop as a result, who cares?
I know that this post will make many people very angry. But as long as there is a tiniest chance that I might persuade at least one person to get out of his or her child’s bed, I have to use it.
251 thoughts on “Co-Sleeping as a Form of Child Abuse”
Silly, Im talking about your language ability that you boasted about. One thing my daughter is not is miserable. She has challenge like all other human beings but has been growing and learning how to deal with them in constructive ways. Damn, maybe that was a by product of her co sleeping with her dad? 😉
“One thing my daughter is not is miserable.”
– Have you ever met parents who think their children are super happy while those children are beyond miserable? I have. 😦
I know a father who kept saying, “Oh my kid had the happiest childhood and adolescence ever.” That very kid was plotting suicide since he was 7.
I’m not suggesting that this is your daughter’s case, of course. What I’m saying is that nobody can speak to whether a person is happy besides that person.
No – but you can use your powers of objective observation.
Can a parent really be objective about their child? For my sister, her daughter is the most beautiful, intelligent, amazing, fantastic child on the face of the earth. It’s absolutely normal for her to feel this way, but I’m sure that many parents would disagree because they have their own ideas as to who the most beautiful, intelligent, amazing, fantastic child on the face of the earth actually is. 🙂
Subjective attributes like ‘beauty’ by definition can’t be objectively viewed. However, we can objectively review attitude and behaviour. And we can use our own experiences and expertise to assess if there are problems.
Of course, beauty is subjective. But so is happiness.
Paging Kant and Aristotle to the thread.
But there is a significantly wide gulf between unhappy (which may not be readily apparent) and suicidal (which belies a willful ignorance)
Kids do not only explore their bodies in bed. Far from it. As a babysitter I’ve had kids masturbate while we were sitting on the couch reading a story. I just ignore it, and they grow out of it. I’ve had other charges who needed an adult to lie down next to them (not cuddling or anything, just a warm body in the vicinity) in order to fall asleep. Parents may mention this to me, or the kid asks on a regular basis and falls asleep immediately if I do it and tosses and turns for an hour or more if I don’t. So I go along with the kid, chalk it up to some kids being more sensitive and more aware of being alone in a dark room (not natural) and they usually grow out of it by about age six. I lie down next to them on top of the covers and leave after they fall asleep.
What I really don’t get is how things suddenly become child abuse only when westerners participate them. And what about Scandinavian countries, where family bathing is considered normal, with young kids at least. I guess they are all sick child abusers, being Westerners.
That reminds me a story a friend told me:
Her son was about 3yrs old, and had just discovered how pleasant it was to hold his penis. He would spend all day wandering the house with one hand firmly grasped on his penis. He did everything one handed, the other being occupied.
One day, she made him a sandwich, and he couldn’t pick it up with one hand. He looked perplexed. Concerned. Then he had a brilliant idea – ask mom to hold his penis for him so he could eat.
Once she stopped laughing (it was a completely unexpected request), it became the perfect teaching moment about personal boundaries. Obviously, he was cognitively ready to understand. And the penis holding disappeared – at least in public.
I don’t agree with everything Clarissa says, but I do with this. I don’t have kids, but I have a mother who slept in my bed every chance she got. She still does when I go home to visit — and I’m 26! The time we were sleeping in separate rooms, she would stop by every night to check that I was safe. She was honestly paranoid about burglars or something. Sometimes, as a kid, she would make me sleep in her bed with her and my dad, and I’d be woken up at night by sexual activity, right until my early teens. I was obviously too embarrassed to bring that up as an excuse for why I didn’t want to share their room, so I would claim that I couldn’t fall asleep easily if I wasn’t in own bed, and that sometimes worked.
Oh, and yes, I did have my first orgasm as a teenager while we were sharing a bed. I wasn’t masturbating, but I was fantasizing, and it happened without stimulation. Thankfully, she was asleep, and I didn’t make any sounds, I don’t think. It was super-disturbing, though. I’m a girl, if that makes any difference.
I really, really, really hope that parents who co-sleep listen to these stories of grown up children who were subjected to this experience.
I want to warn everybody in advance that anybody who tries to insult RS in response to this comment or be dismissive in any way will be moderated.
If somebody decided to share something so personal, they need to be respected and I will enforce this on my blog. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Say what you want about me but don’t insult my commenters.
It is a sad, terrible story, but very extreme! I find it hard to see how it is evidence that sleeping with young kids who appreciate the comfort is child abuse. Is the “family bed” supposed to last until the child is grown (or beyond?). In any case, with the more informal situations I am talking about, and others as well, the co-sleeping seems to end when the child is 4-6, usually as the child becomes independent. In my babysitting experiences I sensed the anxieties of certain children about being alone, often upstairs, and as I gained experience I knew they would gradually outgrow it. So it seemed the compassionate thing to do to offer that small bit of comfort. These kids did sleep in their parents beds often for a time. I know some of these kids still and today they guard their privacy fiercely, which the parents also respect.
The problem is that a parent who doesn’t respect the child’s boundaries in infancy doesn’t suddenly realize that a child is an actual separate human being later on. Such parents try to live their children’s lives instead of them well into the grave.
“Is the “family bed” supposed to last until the child is grown (or beyond?)”
-Most children do find the strength to stop a parent who tries to climb into the same bed with them well into adulthood. But the more insidious forms of parental intrusion and control remain. There are parents who go through their teenagers’ pockets, cell phones and computers. There are parents who pry into every aspect of their adult children’s lives. Only recently, I heard from a person whose mother has been spying on her Facebook contacts. The person in question is on her 40ies. And still the obnoxious Mommy can’t leave her alone.
I can tell thousands of such stories. I can tell even more about the horrible life-long damage it causes.
‘I know some of these kids still and today they guard their privacy fiercely”
-In a healthy situation, nobody needs to “guard” anything “fiercely.” Privacy is simply respected with no vigilance, guarding or fierceness.
All of these stories just make me too sad.
Okay fierce was too strong a word- they are very clear that things have changed. And the adults accept it. They close their doors when they dress and so on. Their bedrooms become their castle, their refuge if that’s what they want (they are all 10-13). The parents do not spy on them. Children have needs too, and those needs change as they grow. Why isn’t it cruel to refuse to lie down with a sensitive 4-year-old child in a dark empty room in a big house until they fall asleep? Perhaps that could lead to its own form of trauma. The insistence on “sleep hygiene” is a little weird in itself. I would rather go with the flow when it comes to kids.
Lie down with them until they fall asleep is one thing. Sleeping with them in the same bed is a completely different thing. Isn’t this obvious?
Did something bad happen to you in regards to this topic?
Nothing happened. I’m in a committee which is why I can’t moderate or answer comments for a while. It’s nice of people to get worried the moment I step away from a computer. 🙂
My experiences of all this have been different. When I was very young, I remember my father had the ‘flu and was sleeping on the couch under a blanket. I was about three. There was a lot of debate as to whether I should be permitted to crawl under the blanket and cuddle with him. The question of incest must have been at large. I was allowed one minute of cuddling.
Later, at the age of 30 or so, I was recovering from a really bad case of workplace bullying, that had caused my digestive system to collapse substantially. I was single at that time and gained permission from my parents to return “home”. I paid them weekly rent at a price we had both deemed fair.
I remember I had caught the ‘flu and was trying to recover from it by sleeping in later than usual. However, my father had plans of his own to “rehabilitate” me, which involved such things as being made to eat anything, including that which would exacerbate my digestive condition.
So, I was sleeping in until 9.30 am and he knocked on my bedroom door. I shouted back, “I’m sleeping in. Leave me alone.” Nonetheless he persisted. Eventually, he opened the door and came in, whereupon I screamed “get out”.
He would have none of that and he lifted up the bed and threw it over. I had been sleeping naked. I grabbed a sheet to cover myself.
Had I been practicing my martial arts in those days and been wearing clothing, I certainly would have laid into him to do as much damage as humanly possible. As it was, I had only my voice, so I shouted at him, “I hope you go and die, you fucking piece of shit. Go and kill yourself.”
It was at this point in my life that I stopped feeling any sympathy for my “disturbed” father and started seeing him as insane.
If you don’t mind me asking, why did he want to come into your room?
It seems to me like you are all discussing extremes. I think it is nurturing for a child to sleep with their parents up to a certain age. I believe children need to comforting feeling of another human to feel protected and warm.
It does, however, get a bit creepy once the child grows because this “need” should not really exist anymore once a child reaches a certain age.
This may be far fetched and untrue, but I heard that once children start developing they are able to sense pheromones. They are naturally inclined to reject their parent’s pheromones, which may explain why parent/sibling sexual relations are not considered normal in any culture (at least that I know of).
I’ve also noticed that Clarissa seems to have some issues with human contact. Maybe this has something to do with her Asperger’s? I have a friend with Asperger’s and he won’t even shake my hand; supposedly people with Asperger’s are not the best at dealing with human contact.
“I’ve also noticed that Clarissa seems to have some issues with human contact. Maybe this has something to do with her Asperger’s? ”
-You need to read more carefully before posting comments. As I said, one of the reasons why children should not sleep in the parents’ bed is that this prevents the adult couple from sleeping in each other’s arms, caress each other in the sleep, and develop emotional intimacy this way.
“I have a friend with Asperger’s and he won’t even shake my hand; supposedly people with Asperger’s are not the best at dealing with human contact.”
-I have a friend who is Ukrainian and he always smiles. This must mean that Ukrainians always smile. Right?
“-You need to read more carefully before posting comments. As I said, one of the reasons why children should not sleep in the parents’ bed is that this prevents the adult couple from sleeping in each other’s arms, caress each other in the sleep, and develop emotional intimacy this way. ”
Can’t it be done elsewhere? You also sexualize things way too much. Not everything has to be about erections and orgasms. These certainly were not things that crossed my mind when I was a child.
“-I have a friend who is Ukrainian and he always smiles. This must mean that Ukrainians always smile. Right?”
Did not mean to generalize. Are you OK with hand-shakes? Hughs? Kissing on the cheeks? Or do you view that as sexual abuse?
‘You also sexualize things way too much. Not everything has to be about erections and orgasms. ”
-That’s why I said specifically in this very thread TWICE that the intimacy of an adult couple in bed is absolutely not about exclusively sex. We are talking about emotional intimacy.
“Are you OK with hand-shakes? Hughs? Kissing on the cheeks? Or do you view that as sexual abuse?”
-Whatever consenting adults engage in is their own business. As for children, please see this: https://clarissasblog.com/2011/10/12/small-children-and-personal-space/
To rehabilitate me from my digestive disorder, which like many patriarchs before and after him, he believed was all in my mind.
“To rehabilitate me from my digestive disorder”
– Is that the same as an eating disorder? I have one, too.
No, as I said in the previous post, I couldn’t digest my food after the workplace bullying incident. My digestion collapsed, so I could only eat certain kinds of food, preferably softened. The reason for my succumbing to this degree on a physical level was that my right wing authoritarian upbringing had taught me not to direct my aggression inwardly and that I shouldn’t set boundaries. So, with all this aggression being directed inwards, my body pretty much collapsed.
When my father barged into my room, I was beginning to learn how to set boundaries — albeit from a very weak position overall.
“No, as I said in the previous post, I couldn’t digest my food after the workplace bullying incident. My digestion collapsed, so I could only eat certain kinds of food, preferably softened. The reason for my succumbing to this degree on a physical level was that my right wing authoritarian upbringing had taught me not to direct my aggression inwardly and that I shouldn’t set boundaries. So, with all this aggression being directed inwards, my body pretty much collapsed.”
– This is horrible! It’s great that you managed to see the reasons for this and address it.
Sorry–should read “had taught me to direct my aggression inwardly and not to set boundaries”
Yes, it’s been a long process, for sure, to address this issue. Much of what has clouded the issue were the extreme differences between my culture of origin and the one I arrived in when we suddenly migrated. Also, the issue that people of my origins are genuinely hated by pseudo-liberals, which proliferate in Australia. (I was in a workplace with a lot of patriarchal, religious types and pseudo-liberals.)
“(I was in a workplace with a lot of patriarchal, religious types and pseudo-liberals.)”
-Gosh, this is the worst kind of environment. Being stuck between these two kinds of extremes is very annoying. I had a similar experience in grad school and it was not fun.
…which was why I wrote my memoir — to try to figure out what the issues were and to find a solution to them.
‘…which was why I wrote my memoir — to try to figure out what the issues were and to find a solution to them.”
-Now I’m totally reading it during my break.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t address these issues directly in my memoir. I wrote it to try to understand what my emotions were about the situation and how such a bad situation could have come about — but I was literally so emotionally battered (and still not well educated enough, even after having completed my bachelor’s degree), to be able to see the situation as clearly as I do today. Only after having completed my PhD, where I studied how politics, psychological issues and history all create us as we are, have I really understood this absolutely clearly. Object relations was helpful to me on all these levels, but Freudian psychology? — I would have to say, not at all.
Australia is a funny place — the right wing of the left wing political party here is dominated by guilt-ridden and aggressive Catholics. These form a substantial part of the Union movement, and I was working for a union organisation. So the religious guys and the pseudo-liberals were one and the same, in this instance.
I’m so ignorant that I had no idea there was a significant number of Catholics in Australia. Is it just your part of the country?
It’s the Irish-Catholic contingent in Australia. It’s pretty substantial and has a marked impact on the character of Australia, for example, Ned Kelly and the idea of the “larrikin” http://www.convictcreations.com/culture/comedy.htm
These are all part of Australian culture, as is gambling on anything at all (Cf. Melbourne Cup) and the sense of rebellion that used to be part of the blue collar working class (Cf Cold Chisel).
“It’s the Irish-Catholic contingent in Australia. It’s pretty substantial and has a marked impact on the character of Australia, for example, Ned Kelly and the idea of the “larrikin” ”
-Of course, the Irish! I was being very dense.
Aw, you missed my daughters comment. She was hoping you would respond to her. 😦
Surely, you understand why this isn’t possible.
Actually I dont. Both my daughter and I were hoping that a Professor would want to share some of her experience and wisdom.
I don’t engage with dependent children who don’t have any freedom to say what they want. When your daughter becomes an independent adult and has a chance to evaluate her childhood experiences from a critical distance of adulthood, she should feel free to come back and tell us about them.
Thanks for explaining that. As an growing individual she would have loved to have heard that from you directly. Oh well.
Titfortat: I will respond to Cheyenne. I really think that it’s healthier for a teenager looking for a “guy’s point of view” to refer to her own peer group. Parents need to be parents and as such will always be (or at least should be) slightly biased and limited and the honest advice they can give. As a young parent myself, I truly believe in parents being parents and not buddies to their children. Different generations also tend to have different views on things. I will hardly search for a “guy’s point of view” from a 50 or 60-year old (I am 30 y/o myself).
On a different note, I hardly see the correlation between good grades and good parenting. It is probably time for parents to stop measuring their parenting success based on their children’s achievements. There is no guaranteed connection between the two. Cheyenne is the one to be applauded for her good grades and achievements. As a parent, you don’t get a gold star for that.
The only true measure of the impact of your parentng techniques will be when Cheyenne is a grown woman and has had several relationships with a romantic partner. Her ability to navigate the intricancies of a partnership will be a first direct reflection on you as a parent. The second will come when/if she has children of her own. That is another time when childhood “demons” (we all have them!) make an appearance.
As a young parent myself, I truly believe in parents being parents and not buddies to their children.
Can’t adult children be friends with their parents too?
What about, f.e. a teen girl asking her mother’s view on topic of relationships and/or sex ed? Why is it bad? Also (almost?) every normal teen understands RE Different generations.
Clarissa, why in your eyes is sharing with a sister (not even a parent!) so problematic? Why should more trust and openness be put in peer group (is it OK to share with them?) than one’s own sibling? May be it’s since different people roll very differently and thus we feel different about the topic. You talked not of asking your permission, which isn’t healthy, but of *sharing* what’s going on in one’s mind and romantic life.
“Can’t adult children be friends with their parents too?”
-Parents are parents and friends are friends. I don’t understand why two such different roles should be mixed.
“Clarissa, why in your eyes is sharing with a sister (not even a parent!) so problematic? ”
-My sister was a minor child leaving under my primary caretaking. I was effectively fulfilling a parenting role in her life. A teenager needs to learn how to be an adult. This is his or her most important task. And a huge part of being an adult is learning to make one’s own decisions and bear responsibility for them. Making decisions about sex is a crucial step on that way. A primary caretaking adult should have absolutely no involvement in that process.
“What about, f.e. a teen girl asking her mother’s view on topic of relationships and/or sex ed? Why is it bad?”
-When did I say it was bad? I said that reporting to a parent on whether you have been kissed at the age of 14 is deeply unhealthy. I’m sure you can see the difference.
Thanks for the comment. You made my wife and I smile when referring to being buddies with our kids.:) Im pretty sure buddy wouldnt be a term they would use, more like benevolent tyrant. 😉
One of the reasons I attempt to be very communicative with my kids is the fact that my parents typically were not. Unfortunately we were usually left with getting our information from our “peers”. Trust me, most times my peers were as clueless as me. There is something to be said for experience. I realize that good grades are not a prime indicator of mental health but they can show that a child has a certain amount of structure and support which helps them study. I will admit that I was boasting a little bit(which makes me feel good too). 🙂
I dont need to wait to measure my parenting skills both good and bad. I am constantly learning and changing what works and what doesnt. As far as learning about relationships, her primary source initially will be my wife and I. She will learn about sexuality and communication from us first. Her school and environment will also aid her in those discoveries, but we believe that our input is much more crucial. If she see’s that her parents have a comfort and ease in this area it allows her the opportunity to discuss situations that her peers would have no experience with. There is something to be said for wisdom, dont you think? A small point is the fact that many teenagers today dont think fellatio or cunnilingus is sex. Many of them also think you can have anal sex because it allows you to remain a virgin. Im pretty sure I dont want those “Peers” being the only ones to inform my children.
“She will learn about sexuality and communication from us first.”
-What do you mean “will learn”? Fourteen is way to old to offer sex ed to a kid.
‘I realize that good grades are not a prime indicator of mental health but they can show that a child has a certain amount of structure and support which helps them study. ”
-Or that they have been bullied by parents and are terrified of them. I’m not talking about your situation, of course.
“Im pretty sure buddy wouldnt be a term they would use, more like benevolent tyrant. ”
-This isn’t funny.
“I dont need to wait to measure my parenting skills both good and bad. ”
-Still, the actual result of parenting can only be measured when the object of parenting becomes an adult. Convenient children often grow up into miserable adults.
“Thanks for explaining that. As an growing individual she would have loved to have heard that from you directly. Oh well.”
This would be insane because you ask her to do so!
Thanks for your thoughts on sanity, I will take it under advisement. 😉
Exactly where are these stories told by adults who co-slept with their parents? I would really like to read some of them. So far we have only heard from (or about) a couple of people whose situations were very strange and over-the-top. Most of us have been referring to the very natural and common (and worldwide) practice of children sleeping, or frequently sleeping, with their parents until they are about 4-6 years old. Most of the possible traumas you have outlined could easily happen in that situation also, not just formal co-sleeping. I wish you could be more specific. Do you think most people in the world are fucked up and traumatized, since most experience co-sleeping to some degree?
The topic is one day old. I have no doubt that people will continue to come by and share stories of how this traumatized them. I heard so many of such stories in my life that I’m sure the phenomenon is wide-spread.
Most people in developed societies do NOT sleep with children. Most people are enlightened enough not to inflict this horror on children.
“I have no doubt that people will continue to come by and share stories of how this traumatized them.”
The stories from people dragged into their parents’ beds as teenagers have little bearing on the psychological “danger” of parents sharing a bed with a four-year-old who finds the experience comforting. I am waiting from people who were traumatized by *that* experience.
“Most people in developed societies do NOT sleep with children.”
As a babysitter/nanny with many years experience in dozens of homes, I can assure you that it is much more common than you think (sharing a bed during the early years, at least sometimes).
“Most people are enlightened enough not to inflict this horror on children.”
developed societies=enlightened people=children not having horrors inflicted on them. Wow.
Yes, dozens of homes are hugely representative of the entire world.
I think its pretty clear now that Clarissa has had some horrors in her life. I feel for her. 😦
“I think its pretty clear now that Clarissa has had some horrors in her life. I feel for her. ”
-Nothing like the horrors your daughter has been exposed to. 😦
…like asking her to comment here, scumbag!
“But, why is it OK when there is no choice but bad when there is?”
It’s not OK, but it’s not a parenting dogma, at least.
Mange de la marde. 🙂
Yes, I co-slept with my single mother and thinking about it sort of gives me chills. I really feel she was doing it because she was lonely and single. I distinctly remember masturbating -before I knew what masturbating was – under the covers many times with her there and I was very confused about our relationship until about age 8. At that point something clicked and I began to insist very firmly on locking my door when changing, guarding my private things, my thoughts, and engaging in other very self-protective behaviors in a paranoid and obsessive manner.
Its difficult for me to say how this has influenced me as a person psychologically but I can say with certainty it was not in a good way. It has affected my relationship with her certainly. Even hugging her or saying ‘I love you’ makes my skin crawl to this day.
I think most cosleepers don’t realize that cosleeping isn’t JUST sleeping. It creates a whole fucked up system where children are the playthings of adults and the line between sexual and affectionate starts to get disturbingly blurred. I think this blur starts to happen for the parents as well- look at cobathing. I cobathed once with my mother, it makes me nauseous just thinking about it. I think cosleeping acts as a gateway to something more disturbing like that.
Anyway a good example is when I was about 6 I tried to french kiss my mother for my goodnight kiss (yes she pecked me on the lips goodnight). I had seen it in movies. I just think that shows that I had no idea there was even a difference between a sexual couple and parents and children at that point (which is pretty old).
One thing I also don’t understand: If you think it is weird to co-sleep with a fourteen year old, why is it any different with a four year old?
Thank you for sharing this story, Anonymous. I agree with every word you say. I wish more people realized what they are doing to their children when they push them into these unhealthy practices. Unfortunately, many people refuse to hear what adults have to say about the co-sleeping memories of their childhood.
If anybody responds to this comment with a jerkwad nastiness, they will be moderated. I suggest every cosleeping parent print out the posts of adults remembering their cosleeping experiences they were subjected to as children and reread them often.
I’m the same RS from earlier, and I wanted to add something similar to what Anonymous says. I think the worst part of the co-sleeping experience is that it messed up what should be normal physical affection between my mother and me, rather than actually affecting my adult sexual life as one would expect. I do love her very much — and I actually don’t hold any resentment towards her, because she’s been great in every other way — but I find it very hard to hug and kiss her the way I should be able to with a parent. I’m also sometimes unreasonably paranoid about her intruding into my private life, even when it’s within normal boundaries, which sometimes results in me being borderline nasty to her, and she feeling justifiably hurt, which again sets off a cycle of guilt and self-loathing on my part. So I would say to the co-sleeping advocates that you might just be setting yourselves up for an unhealthy loss of physical affection from your child later, even if they grow up to be perfectly well-adjusted people otherwise (like me).
And it’s not that I have Asperger’s or anything as some comments towards Clarissa suggested — I have no problem showing a reasonable amount of affection towards my dad or brother or grandmother, I’m fairly affectionate, though not effusive, with friends of both genders, and quite effusive with my boyfriend.
I guess it’s interesting that it doesn’t seem to have affected things with my dad even though I witnessed sexual activity and once, him watching a (mildly) pornographic film when he thought I was asleep. (My mother was asleep, so I don’t know if she knew he was watching it while I was there.) This is probably because I don’t hold him responsible; he never coerced me into sharing the bed, or walked into my room without knocking.
BTW, for people defending sleeping with 4-6 year olds, I was no more than 6 when I was woken up by the porno, which was, needless to say, my first exposure to that kind of thing. It was not pleasant. While I wish he had been more thoughtful before turning on the film, the whole thing could have been avoided if I wasn’t in the room in the first place. I have nothing against adults watching erotic movies in their own bedrooms, when there are no children in them.
I don’t want to spam the comments section, but I have another story, albeit anecdotal. I have a friend who’s an only child, and has four aunts, all unmarried or childless, and all living within 10 minutes of one another. So she grew up with either her parents or one of the aunts taking turns sleeping with her *every night*, until she was at least 21. I know this because she was going abroad for her masters’ at 21, and one of the aunts expressed her concern to me about how she would get by, since she’d never even had the experience of sleeping in a room by herself. I thought that was pretty awful. She ended up marrying at 23 after being nagged by her family to do so, and had an unplanned pregnancy conceived on her first night of marriage (which was also her first night of sex, since this was an arranged marriage). According to her mother, she didn’t know about contraception! (Don’t ask me how her husband didn’t know either… the whole thing is really strange to me.)
This is more extreme than my case, but still. It’s possible she didn’t actually witness any sex, since it was all single aunts co-sleeping, and perhaps her relationship with one particular parent is not screwed up since five people equally shared the blame, but it did obviously affect her sex life or awareness in some way.)
RS: the thread was meant for people to share stories, so your participation is very appreciated.
I know what spam is and your comments aren’t it.
RS, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m anonymous from before and I really felt like I was the only person who had had experiences like this.
I don’t like it that people are dismissing the significance of your experience because your case was ‘extreme’. Especially because I really don’t think it is. From reading the comments section of many articles on co-sleeping, it seems that most people who co-sleep do it every day. (kids like routine, so of course they don’t like to sometimes sleep with the parents and sometimes on their own) and they many end up doing it until the child is much older than they originally intended to from the start, untill age 4,5, or 6 because the transition is very difficult to make. So I don’t think it is wise to dismiss her experience (and mine) because we are the ‘extremes’.
I also don’t think it is extreme for a co-slept person to have witnessed sexual activity of the parents. Parents far too often fall prey to believing their children are not nearly as observant or understanding of the situation as they are. RS’s parents probably thought she wouldn’t notice, and if she did notice she wouldn’t think anything was going on at all. Of course, to the contrary, children are hyper-aware of the activity of their parents.
Even if RS’s or my case is extreme, so what? Perhaps if a lot of co-sleeping is bad, then a little bit is bad too, just less so. It is dangerous to co-sleep an infant, even if drunk/obese parents are not entered into the picture, and it seems psychologically damaging and inappropriate to co-sleep with toddlers/older children for many reasons, and co-sleeping is always bad for the relationship of the parents.
No one has given any convincing reasons why co-sleeping benefits any one but the parents at all. People here have only said:
– well people in third world countries do it
– my kid has good grades and therefore was not harmed by co-sleeping
– It made care of the infant easier
None of these reasons are convincing or adress complaints against it at all.
No, Anonymous, sadly, you are very far from being alone in these experiences. Often, the memories of co-sleeping are so disturbing to people after they grow up that confronting them in any form is difficult. One might know on an intellectual level that this happened to them but recovering the actual memories produces too much anxiety and is very traumatic.
I agree with every word you say and applaud your courage and honesty in saying it.
Thank you for writing this article. It really helped, me.
It was only a few days ago that I came out of denial and realized that my mother used me as a surrogate partner and father (she confirmed this when I nonchalantly asked the question one day).
She was a single mother and it included: using me for emotional comforting and confiding in me with her hopes and fears (rather than confiding in another adult), getting me to sleep in her bed til I was around 6-7 on and off, and then when we moved to a new house around 11 I slept in her bed for a while on and off. The last time I slept in her bed after a year or 2 of not doing it was 16. She also used to walk around topless or quasi naked.
I’ve had problems with my sexuality throughout my life, there has always been deep shame and conflict, and now I know it’s related to the way my mother treated me. I;ve also simulateously resented and been psychologically dependent on my mother for most of my life, I’m now in my later 20’s. It was literally only a few months ago where I asked her to stop walking around quasi naked when I was around.
It was abuse, I’ve been abused… And I’m slowly realizing and healing.
I do love my mother, but that doesn’t mean she simply was a severely psychologically damaged woman who had no business being a mother. I wish more people engaged in conscientious parenting, and realize the damage that happens when you don’t have proper boundaries with a child whose sexuality is developing.
No wonder my dream is to move to a different country, I stayed for 2 months in a foreign country and I never felt freer. I feel like it’s the only way I can ‘escape’ psychologically, I feel like a manchild.
I’m very, very sorry you had these horrible experiences. This was real abuse and I’m sorry this had to happen to you. 😦
The reason people may be offended by this blog is how the term co-sleeping is used. Cosleeping essentially means sleeping in close proximity to your baby – whether it be the same bed, an extension added to the bed, a bassinet, or anywhere within the same room. I could be offended as my infant ended up in our bed on many tireless nights (the majority, actually), or the fact she slept in a bassinet next to our bed for the majority of her 1st year of life, but I do not think this is what you are passing judgment on. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your concern is more about an extended bed-sharing relationship with a parent that lasts beyond infancy??
Could you try to read the post before posting a comment?
I’m really concerned. My fiance has returned home to Kuwait where his Indian family resides and informs me he has been co sleeping with his mother in her bed each night this has been for the past 2months. He has told me in the past that he has no qualms about being naked in front of her and it happens on occasion. He tells me she also occasionally waxes his backside?!?!? I’ve told him how distrort this behaviour makes me and that it needs to stop. I’m worried perhaps it is part of the Indian culture.god what do I do? I basically told him it has to stop or I’m gone. But it’s been going on do long until now. And with him bring overseas how will I know if it’s stopped
I don’t know why I’m writing this as this post is very old and I’m sure you’ll just find a way to dismiss me but you mentioned in an earlier comment that ‘only abuse victims get to speak on this abuse’ so here goes I guess?
I am a 23 year old woman I currently have two children. Until the age of four of five I slept in my parents’ bed. Not exclusively – I had my own bed which I did use – but often. I am physically and mentally well and have been my whole life, I enjoy a good career, a fulfilling social life, an excellent partnership with my awesome long term boyfriend and a harmonious relationship with both my children and my parents. I have not been harmed in any way by my years in the family bed.
I was never ‘miserable’ co-sleeping and I’ve never been abused. I look back fondly on the closeness and comfort being near to them gave in the nights when I was so small. Co-sleeping made me feel secure and valued, like I fit right into the family. One of my earliest memories is of being quite ill, an ear infection I think, I remember being feverish, kicking the blankets off climbing onto my parents and pulling at their clothes out of frustration and whining and nursing and crying. I remember I must have rolled around that big bed for hours, I’m sure that can’t have been comfortable for anyone. I remember too how everything went so peaceful when I stopped laid my head down on my mother’s chest and felt her heartbeat thump in my ear. I slept then.
My parents are beautiful people. They put their children at the centre of their lives, everything else had to fit around us, not the other way around. There was nothing they weren’t willing to adapt to better suit our needs and, yes, wants. We were loved. Damn near perfectly. And you know what their secret was? They never asked for anything in return. When my first baby was born and I got my first taste of serious sleep deprivation coupled with sore nipples and not having showered for a month I called my mother as new parents do to express my gratitude for everything she had done for me. She showed her true spirit when she told me she didn’t want any thank-you’s, everything she sacrificed for me, she said, was my birthright and I had no obligation towards her for anything she had done for me.
What you’re describing in your post doesn’t reflect my experience at all! Nor the experience of any co-sleeping family I know or have ever heard of. I was never made to feel guilty about my parents’ sacrifices, I never disliked sharing a bed, and if I did well no one was demanding I stay there? As soon as I decided I had, had enough my parents brought a bucket of paint so I could do up my bedroom.
Their marital relations didn’t suffer; they celebrate their twenty-ninth anniversary next month.
Their sex life didn’t suffer either – I am one of nine siblings after all 😉
Co-sleeping can be great for intimacy if you’re just willing to apply some creativity. My parents never fucked in the bed while I was there – if you’re married and only using the bed, I feel sorry for you btw – I remember on more than one occasion waking to find them gone, I know now they had snuck off some place to be alone together…co-sleeping far from dampening the flame inspired them to find ever more creative ways to keep it burning strong. My mother still does yoga and gymnastics now in her late forties, and has done for years, just so that she would remain limber enough to be bent backwards over a countertop in the moonlight.
When I came to explore my own sexuality – yeah even in toddlerhood – I was calmly told that was a private thing and to go someplace by myself if I wanted to do that. No shame, no nonsense, no creepy perversions. Just love and honesty and support.
Mom and Dad didn’t co-sleep out of some sexually stunted co-dependent need for ‘tactile pleasure’ as you grossly put it. They did it for us, because they knew both instinctively and through extensive research that it was the best thing for us young things to sleep close to our parents. They did it on our terms. They let us stay curled up safe beside them until we were ready ourselves to leave. But they never forced us into bed with them – what an awful and ridiculous concept – they let us set the boundaries. Two of my siblings have sensory issues for them bed-sharing was uncomfortable and they preferred to be first in a bassinet and later on a toddler bed pulled up beside the Queen size. Mom and dad were sensitive to our needs, everything they did was for our benefit and almost nothing they did was without our reasoned consent, even as very young children.
I have no real reason to believe I am speaking with a reasonable person. But if you would just take an objective and sensible look at the reality of co sleeping in healthy, loving families you’d see it’s most often nothing like the abusive horror you’ve painted for us here.
Newsflash: people don’t write such long and unhinged rants on subjects they don’t find traumatic.
And there it is. I was engaging you in honest discussion. You don’t actually have any rebuttal for anything I’ve said so you grope for control by attempting to underscore the reason that I’m speaking.
“Unhinged” lol I gave you an account of my childhood?
The need to render such long and detdiled accounts to complete strangers is evidence that you perceive a problem here.
You are not being honest with yourself, so there can’t be an honest discussion here. Ask yourself what makes you want to go on at such length about this issue.
What can I say? I’m a writer by trade it’s my nature to go on at length 😉
What you’re doing here is employing faulty logic to swing the conversation in your favour, my belief is rendered un-falsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, you have simply shifted the goalposts so that it wouldn’t apply to a supposedly ‘true’ example. This kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one’s argument.
I offered a counter argument to yours instead of actually addressing it you’ve just stated that I can’t be un-traumatized because no one un-traumatized would have responded as I did, thereby redefining the parameters of the discussion allowing you to dismiss a relevant criticism of your flawed opinion.
Now I’m not sure at this point if you’re dense, manipulative or just plain ol’ defensive, either way I’m not the one not being honest here.
Ask yourself if you’re actually open to changing your mind on a subject when presented with new information.
The need to retell in your own words what I said minutes ago in this same discussion also demonstrates that you are on the verge of an insight that is scaring you. This is good news! There is no maturity without breaking out of the cloying image of a good girl you presented in your first comment. Good luck!
Deflection is comfortable isn’t it? I’m finished here. This is turning into trading insults. I wrote to try to open your eyes but you’re not interested in discussion clearly so why waste more words?