I have lived with my boyfriend with shared custody of his daughters, SD11 and SD9. BM allows SD9 to fall asleep in her bed every night and now the poor kid can’t sleep/won’t sleep on her own at our house.
I feel like having her in our bed – between me and her father – is unfair and inappropriate. I want to sleep through the night with my partner. This happened just again last night, and my boyfriend actually suggested that when she does that, that I go sleep in another room. I refuse to cede my bed to a spoiled 9-year-old.
In addition to my feelings on the matter (and lack of sleep), there is the fundamental development issue for SD9 who needs the independence of sleeping in her own bed every night.
Do you have any advice for me?
Hi there, This can be a very controversial issue. The “family bed”, like how long to breast feed, is such a subjective thing. Let me tell you what I’ve seen, learned and experienced on this topic. Then you can sift and sort through to see if anything feels right for your situation.
To me, the most important thing you wrote is that YOU are not OK with what is happening. Over the years this has happened to 3 SMOMs I know personally and they each handled it this way…they chose to get out of bed and go somewhere else when the skid came into the bed and the bio-dod allowed it. One went into the guest room, the other got up and exercised (her ss came into their bed in the early morning) and the third, left the house each time it happened. What was the same about their different re-locations is that they had all passed the point of anger and got to a place that said, “if he makes a choice to let his child sleep in our bed, I’m going to make the choice to leave it and take myself somewhere I can be comfortable.”
The three of them had all tried talking to their husbands. At our SMOM meetings we’d all brainstormed, did research about child development, sought out therapists we could quote but nothing moved any of these bio-dads. The bio-dads just couldn’t seem to stand up to their kids or help them by getting up and moving into their kids beds’ or giving them soothing sound machines, etc.
Once the SMOMS realized talk, logic, facts and pleading weren’t going to get them any where, they made the choice to leave the marital bed whenever the skid came into it. This choice is not a concession and I understand how it can feel that way so hang in there with me.
They decided to take action to stop the arguing, to take care of themselves and to make an important point. The point was, “I’m not going to sacrifice my well-being for anyone. If you won’t change, I will.” They adopted an attitude of compassionate acceptance, “I see that you’re not going to honor my needs right now so I’m going to honor my needs as best I can.” This felt much better than leaving with hostility or anger. Making this choice to leave the bed is empowering when it is done for your well-being and because you choose it over the option of staying there stewing in anger or hurt or awkwardness. It is more empowering even if it isn’t your first choice.
The good and perhaps surprising news is that all 3 husbands changed their tune within a week. They each took a different path but each man’s need to sleep with his Sweetheart took on a new urgency when it seemed that it was the only way to get his lover back into his bed. Somehow by leaving quietly leaving the bed, the bio-dads weren’t distracted by anger and ultimately realized they didn’t want their kids their either…they wanted their Sweethearts. Isn’t that something?!!!
While some may say this was a manipulation, I would disagree. If we are faced with a wall, finding away around it feels better than continuing to bang our heads against it. In our group of 12, we were 3 for 3 with this approach. I believe they were successful because they took a stand for themselves and did so out of love and respect for themselves and therefore didn’t have to be angry about it. This is a powerful gesture that got them what they wanted without threats, ultimatums or resentments on either side. I reckon it’s going to be easier for some and harder for others. This is the only experiences I was a part of…worth a try or not?
As a SMOM we’re asked to move over, step aside, wait, come second and/or be patient so often that it can be easy for our husbands to take our willingness to help him for granted. There are a few things each of us feel strongly about and have the right to insist upon. When talking doesn’t change things, action is another option.
I know this is hard. It’s hurtful when the man we love seemingly chooses to collapse all boundaries and disregards our needs in order to avoid conflicts with his kids. (now if he is a solid supporter of the family bed, you two have another challenge.) It’s usually divorce guilt that crushes them into compliance with their kids wishes but that doesn’t change the impact on you. I’m so sorry for the stress, hurt and anger you’re feeling now. I sure hope you get what you want very soon. Have you posted this on the BB for more ideas and experiences? Hope this is helpful in some way, Cathryn