Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Mar 31, 2010 3:59 PM

My BIL and his wife are having some major disagreements about their 3-1/2 year old son and sleeping arrangements, and I thought it might make an interesting discussion. I will preface this by saying that (as of now) I only know BIL's side of the story. He called DH yesterday to vent about the issue, and though I'm really close with his wife (who I call SIL), I don't like calling her immediately after the guys talk and asking her to dish. She probably wouldn't mind, but it's really not my business, so I'll wait until she brings it up.

Essentially, she wants to co-sleep with their son and he does not. I obviously don't know all the details, as I don't live with them, but my understanding of the issue is this: he had been sleeping in their bed for a while. He has his own room with a toddler bed in it and had slept in his own room as a baby. I don't know how long he's been sleeping with his parents as a toddler. Anyway, BIL wanted this to end and SIL did not. After many fights on the subject, they bought him a big-boy bed and he started sleeping in his own room...but now SIL is sleeping in there with him. BIL doesn't like this arrangement and thinks that an almost-4-year old is old enough to sleep on his own (under normal circumstances. If he is sick or has a bad dream or something, that's a different story).

BIL's major issue with the arrangement is that they have been constantly fighting over it. He works 70 or 80-hour weeks and feels like he rarely gets to see his family, and when he does, the time has been ruined recently because they're constantly bickering about sleeping arrangements. He understands that she has a different parenting style than he does, but he feels like he doesn't have much control over how his child is being raised or what is happening in his home. On a different, but related note, her parents are very involved in their life (way too much for comfort for most people, but they've helped them so much financially that BIL feels like he can't say no - take a lesson from that, ladies!), he feels like everybody is spoiling his kid, and he has no control over any of it. As an outsider, I totally agree that the kid is spoiled and that her family is way too involved. As her friend, I've said for years that she's too easily influenced by her family, her mother in particular. There is a huge difference between BIL's 11-year old son from his first marriage and the 4-year old, some of which is due to maturity and temperment, but not all of it. Some is due to how he has been raised. That's another issue entirely, but all of it adds up to the same thing: on the sleep issue and in general, BIL doesn't feel like he's been given much choice in the way his son is being raised.

This brings up ALL KINDS of issues that may be interesting to discuss:

1) Boundaries with family. Their biggest mistake (IMO) has been accepting so much assistance from SIL's family. Her parents are very generous, but they use their generousity as a way of manipulating them. SIL's mom does not like to see her grandbaby disciplined (holy crap, I have a story about this. During Xmas dinner, nephew was acting up, so my BIL put him in his room for a time-out. SIL's mom literally threw a temper tantrum, sulked, and then went and got him out of his room before his punishment was over, undermining his dad's authority. That was an uncomfortable dinner!) and when either of them disagrees with her mom too often, all the stuff that her parents have helped them with comes up in an argument.

My personal opinion is that a married couple needs to learn to stand on their own feet, even though offers of help from family might make things easier. Remember that all money comes with strings attached - that doesn't end with wedding contributions.

2) Priorities: Children or the marriage? While a child's welfare should always be a parent's first priority, a healthy marriage should be a high priority for married parents. IMO, if an issue does not affect a child's safety or welfare, the parents should do what's best for the marriage, and then nurture their child second - because what's best for the marriage is ultimately best for the child. My nephew might be benefiting in some way from the cosleeping, but he certainly isn't benefitting from the constant fighting over it.

3) On a related note, different parenting styles and general compromise. I know people who are VERY adament about one particular parenting style or another, but what happens when spouses don't agree? I know this is something that you're supposed to talk about before you're married or have kids, but can you really know how you'll feel about things as a parent before you are one? And even if you believe strongly in one particular style of parenting, it can't be best for the child if you and your partner strongly disagree, as that will result in arguments.

To take this a step further, are there some parental decisions that are worth fighting for, even if they cost you your marriage? I can think of two that would likely be dealbreakers for me (education and religion), but we discussed our feelings on those subjects long before getting married and the wedding wouldn't have happened if we weren't on the same page. But we've never discussed things like cosleeping - and as a non-parent, I don't think I even have an opinion on it. Or I didn't until I heard this story, anyway.

I've rambled long enough, but I thought this might make an interesting discussion and I hope that people take it as a starting point and get into some other issues as well. We need more stimulating discussions around here.


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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Mar 31, 2010 4:48 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

Kids and discipline - OMG I have a whopper for you Art.

And this is my BILs recent FW"s family - So they are at Thanksgiving dinner and (she's one of 10) one of her numerous nephews grabs the cranberry sauce and starts eating out of the bowl.

No lie. And NO ONE said anything. Because his parents are going through a divorce. So obviously he shouldn't be disciplined - mind you he's like 9.

WTH? And me, if it had been my family I would have said something. But our family has always been whoever's the adult disciplines whomever is near them. Joy of being raised very closely with your first cousins.

Anyhow, the story above is ridiculous - in my opinion.

Yes, I think they let her family in WAY TOO much. I know that my bro's in laws were allowed to discipline HIS kids how they wanted in THEIR home, but they respected how he and his ex chose to handle the kids at home (and my Mom too).

Personally, now I don't have kids, but I know I wasn't sleeping with my parents at 4 yos unless as you said, it was a bad dream or sick or whatnot. I can't imagine it is something I would chose to do.

That said, no I haven't discussed that in particular with my DH. We know that we will be moving once we have kids before they head to school because the school system is NOT ok where we are at.

Other than that, I know I'll be the disciplinarian. And I know that. I'm OK with that as long as he backs me up.

I hate that with my Aunt and Uncle. Aunt said to son - No you can't have that. He goes out with Dad THAT afternoon and Dad buys it for him. (After son had ripped off Mom's CC and spent several $100 on it... WHY is he getting a $50+ game with extreme violence?)

Father REFUSED to take it from son and return it.

Nuts.

EDIT: Oh so basically, I think I'm sort of on your BIL's side, with the knowledge that it's the only side you're able to present right now. :-)




Edited by: PharmToxGirl on Mar 31, 2010 4:49 PM

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kellyheartsjeff Posts : 66 Registered: 2/25/09
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Mar 31, 2010 5:33 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

Wow, the child is 3 1/2? That just seems way too old to be co-sleeping... I don't have kids, so maybe I would feel differently if I did, but I doubt it. I thought co-sleeping was something parents did with babies? (kids under 1?) I guess that was just the impression I got whenever I heard reference or mention of co-sleeping before.

I can definitely see why your BIL is against it - talk about a drag on the marriage and the ability to have "adult only time". I've heard enough stories about how little parents get to enjoy each other in the bedroom when they have kids, now that time is even less so due to sleeping arrangements.

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August28th Posts : 153 Registered: 1/28/09
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Mar 31, 2010 8:12 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

Wow. I'm definitely on your BIL side with this too. I never co-slept with my parents, and I really don't think it should be done (I think I'll be more lenient than my parents though and allow it for nightmares, storms, etc).

I've heard, from friends who cosleep with their kids, that it is a sexlife killer. Pretty much the only time you can have "mommy/daddy" time is after work, dinner, cleaning up, bath time by that time, the kid is asleep and where... mom and dad's bed.

Not only can it kill the sex life, it's got to be tough on sleep in general. A queen size bed (if that's what they have) doesn't give an abundance of room for two people, I can't imagine adding a 4 year old into that. That's a lot of room he's taking up. Kids move also. I have a friend who is always complaining about her ribs or back hurting because her 1 year old keeps kicking her all night. To me a good night's sleep is important. Having a bad night occasionally is normal, but chances are he's not getting a lot of good sleep ever, that's gotta be really tough.

I hope he and your SIL can work out something that works for them and their son. The child needs a good night's sleep and needs to stop being that dependent on mom and dad. That's just my two cents about it!

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BWFrancie Posts : 70 Registered: 11/11/09
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Mar 31, 2010 9:17 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

I am going to say this isn't really about the 4 year old sleeping in his own bed, this is a marital issue that is being disguised by the sleeping arrangments of the 4 yr. old. SIL is avoiding her husband and avoiding deeper marital issues. This marriage is doomed if she continues to put everyone (including her nutty Mother) before her husband... because that is exactly what she is doing.

Your BIL will eventually give up and retreat. How very sad. MIL should have been smacked for interfering with your BIL's authority during the Christmas incident, and your SIL should have been the one doing the smacking! BIL will start to resent all of this (if he isn't already) and this poor little boy will have a broken home. I say "poor little boy" because none of this is his fault... the adults in his life are acting like morons.

Gee... I am not usually so outspoken. Maybe ya'll are rubbing off on me. heh heh

Thanks for the discussion topic girlfriend. It's a good one!

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Mar 31, 2010 11:36 PM Go to message in response to: BWFrancie

Francie - I didn't talk about that but I do agree with you - it seems like the SIL is avoiding her husband. Why else once the child is sleeping in his own bed would you then sleep there?

So this goes to Art's question what's the priority - well I believe that working on your marriage and keeping that good is in your child's best interest.

 

 

 

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BreAnn Posts : 600 Registered: 11/28/07
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Mar 31, 2010 11:39 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

I know I haven't been on here in forever. But I had to comment on this.

When I was little I always slept in my bed, except for Fridays. My parents came to the decision that unless I had a bad dream, was sick or something, I was only allowed to sleep in their bed on Friday nights. I think I did that until I was about 5. I believe I quit right before I started kindergarten.

Unless the child has some medical reason they don't want to leave them alone, 4 is to old to be sleeping in there every night.

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Agape14 Posts : 201 Registered: 12/31/08
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 8:33 AM Go to message in response to: BWFrancie

I think you've nailed it, this is definitely a sign of marriage problems in general, and it's just being expressed with the co-sleeping issue.

If it was the SIL posting here about how her DH allows his family to interfere in their marriage or how they raise their kids, we'd be readily telling her to have a serious talk with DH about boundaries and standing up to his parents, etc etc. So while I agree with your BIL's frustration Art, I think he needs to put on his big boy pants, talk to the wife and get on the same page about dealing with her parents before they even start to talk about the internal marriage issues.

As for the SIL, I'm not a parent as yet, but I also can't imagine feeling the need to sleep in my 3yr old's bed for no reason. The parents that I know are always thrilled when their child is finally able to sleep through the night, in their own bed, in their own room. That's just weird...

 

 

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 9:32 AM Go to message in response to: BWFrancie

I am going to say this isn't really about the 4 year old sleeping in his own bed, this is a marital issue that is being disguised by the sleeping arrangments of the 4 yr. old.

Oh, that's absolutely what it is. I'm sure the sleeping arrangements are part of it, but it's not the only issue - it's a symptom of other issues. And I'm also on my BIL's side at this point, though I know there's likely much more to the story that I don't know yet.

But because I enjoy analyzing stuff, I'll give my opinion. Yes, this is a symptom of a bigger marital problem. They have been in counseling for a couple years now (married for 6 or 7, I can't remember. I think it was Oct 03 or 04) and will likely continue to go, though my BIL was considering leaving her. They are both great people, but I can't imagine that either of them are easy to live with or easy to share a life with. SIL is one of the sweetest people I know, but as I said above, she is very easily influenced by her family, particularly her crazy mother. I could list all kinds of things her parents have helped them with and how they're overly involved, but it doesn't matter. My BIL's feelings on her parents seem to change with his mood. In his heart, I think he's uncomfortable with this level of codependence, but in reality, he seems to be easily 'bought off' with a new toy and drops his objections. He would never admit that, but it's the truth. And while I'm on his side on the sleeping issue (so far), I don't believe that he's entirely innocent in this, either. He can be stubborn, difficult to communicate with, and he has a temper (though he's much better at controlling it than he was when he was younger). They've both tried very hard to make their marriage work, and I hope they continue to do so, but I wouldn't blame either of them if they decided that enough was enough.

Several PPs have mentioned the sex life thing as a problem with cosleeping, but I really don't think that's the major issue, here. It may be a small part of it, but BIL's major issue with the whole thing is that the short amount of time he has to spend with his wife and son is constantly being taken up by fights about sleeping arrangements. That, and he feels like he has no say in how his son is being raised. It's not really about the sleeping (though that's part of it) - it's more about them having different opinions on how to raise their son and he doesn't feel like she's willing to compromise. Knowing the two of them, I doubt that their sex life has suffered much from cosleeping. I'm sure it has suffered recently because they've been fighting, but without the arguments, I doubt that a kid in their bed would stop them from getting intimate. There are plenty of other rooms in the house.

But since we're giving our opinions on cosleeping, I guess I really don't have an opinion on it. If both parents want to do it, then I don't care how old the kids are - whatever works for the family. Personally, I never slept with my parents. I remember my mom occasionally sitting in my room until I fell asleep if I had woken up with a bad dream, but I don't think it ever occured to me to sleep with my parents. I had my own room and bed, and that's where I slept. For us, we'll probably do the same. I can't imagine sleeping with a child regularly. I'm sure you can get used to it, but I hate being touched when I'm asleep and DH is a pretty light sleeper, so neither of us would sleep very well if we had to sleep with a child. I know some people who say that there are tons of benefits to cosleeping, but I think that having well-rested and reasonably non-grumpy parents is better for a child. So for us, I don't think it's in the cards.


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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 9:42 AM Go to message in response to: Agape14

So while I agree with your BIL's frustration Art, I think he needs to put on his big boy pants, talk to the wife and get on the same page about dealing with her parents before they even start to talk about the internal marriage issues.

I totally agree. I've been telling him that for years.

To their credit, they have discussed the issue of her parents and tried to set boundaries, but nobody involved seems to stick to them very well. SIL is easily guilt-tripped into letting her mom have control back, and BIL usually shuts up when the ILs buy him something nice. I know that both of them feel like they owe something to her parents because they've helped them so much, but neither seems to be able to say, 'Thanks, but no thanks.' They will probably resolve this series of fights, but the same issue will come up again next year in a different form. It really needs to be addressed, but I don't know whether she can break away, and I think my BIL is starting to see that.

But as DH and I said to each other the other day, there's not much that we can do except watch it happen, one way or another. They both know what needs to be done - it's just a matter of doing it, or ending the marriage.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 9:59 AM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

I don't have a lot to contribute here -- everything I know about co-sleeping and "family beds" I've learned from watching those Nanny reality tv shows (which make sense to me, generally).

So here's what I think -- I doubt really that co-sleeping in the kids bed has much at all to do with the kid. If he's going to that bed, by himself, then he's fine. There are no problems there. I'm willing to bet that she's doing for herself -- she feels better sleeping in that bed.

For me, that just screams "I've got issues!"

I totally understand where he's coming from, but I am curious as to why she thinks she needs to sleep with her son. What is she getting out of it?

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 10:26 AM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

I totally understand where he's coming from, but I am curious as to why she thinks she needs to sleep with her son. What is she getting out of it?

That's why I'm wondering whether I'm getting the whole story. DH was quick to jump to, 'She and her whole family spoils that kid!', but I wonder whether he has sleeping problems or screams bloody murder if she's not in the room with him or something. I can't imagine that she would do it without a good reason, if it was causing so many issues between her and BIL.

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wdubin Posts : 49 Registered: 4/27/08
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 3:38 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

I think the issue is very obvious here. She doesn't want to sleep in the bed with her husband and is using the child as an excuse. I'm sure this really bothers your BIL, as well as the parenting part of the issue, but I think he doesn't want to admit it.

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BWFrancie Posts : 70 Registered: 11/11/09
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 8:48 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

You are doing a great job in figuring the dynamics out. It may not be a sexual issue, but it is an intimacy issue. The fighting about the sleeping arrangments is taking the focus off the real issues in the marriage.. whatever they may be. True intimacy is more than sex, it is cuddling, talking late at night, making plans, laughing, etc. They are totally lacking intimacy. Sex will become an issue (if it isn't already and I have a feeling it is). It's a very sad situation. The little boy needs both parents.

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BWFrancie Posts : 70 Registered: 11/11/09
Re: Children and sleeping arrangements (not mine!)
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 8:49 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

I agree with you! She is avoiding her husband. She is depending on her son for comfort.

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