step children sleeping in their own beds - FamilyEducation
step children sleeping in their own beds
08/23/2011 at 21:32 PM

My boyfriend and I have been dating for over a year now and as we are now discussing marriage I have become concerned over some issues regarding the children, the most prevalent of which are the sleeping habits of his children.

When at their Mother's house (as they are on week days) they are permitted to sleep in their mothers bed. They fall asleep there, and stay all night. Because the children are 2 and 3 years old I dont find this bothersome, however it has created a slight problem; the children refuse to sleep in their own beds when they are with their father. He is a deep sleeper and he worries he might roll over and hurt one of them, so when they do this he gets literally no sleep and tries to stay up all night. What is more is not only is he exhausted but once we are married we have agreed that it would be inapropriate to have me in the bed too, and we are uncomfortable simply kicking either myself or the children out, so we are trying to make the transition slowly and preemptively.

I have read dozens of parenting books and have been a teacher for years so I was not expecting this to be hard but it has turned out to be a nightmare. They wake up a million times each night screaming and his daughter in particular will then stay up fussing for the rest of the evening unless their father lays with her. I usually stay until midnight trying to help calm her etc but my efforts have been fruitless. I then consulted her pediatrician who informed me that until she stops sleeping in the bed with her mother, she may never be able to happily sleep on her own at her fathers house. So my boyfriend explained all of this to his ex who then retorted "I will sleep with my children in my bed for as long as I want, I dont care if you lose sleep!" Which was not only unhelpful, but opened our eyes to yet another problem. She sleeps with ALL her children in her bed. Her 14 year old son from another marriage included!

I was somewhat sickened to hear that this sweet little girl whom I love as if she were my own, is regularly sharing a bed with her 14 year old half seems so wrong to me. And so after all of that (my apologies for the length) I have two questions. Does anyone have tips for successfully getting the children to sleep on their own, even if they still sleep with their mom? And should I be concerned about the sleeping arrangements at their mothers house? My younger brother slept in my parents bed for years, and so I know it is every family's choice...but I am both concerned and frustrated. HELP!

I had a similar issue with my step-daughter, though it is different because she is 10 and lived with her father full-time. I wasn't comfortable with her in the bed with us and I also didn't like that my husband would fall asleep in her bed and stay there all night. Basically, cold turkey was the best for us. We had two almost sleepless nights, but by then, she was so exhausted that she couldn't help but fall alseep. After that, we made a deal with her. She would go to bed before we did and we would stay up until she was asleep so she knew we were still up to keep her safe, and we promised to go check on her to be sure she was asleep before we went to sleep. It has worked out fine since then. Your kids are much younger than mine, so this may not be much help. Alternatively, have you thought of just making them a pallet on the floor next to your bed? That way, they feel secure because you are in the room with them, but you can sleep too.