Q: How urgent is it that my 4-year-old son sleeps in his own bed rather than with me in my bed? I feel it's OK for now, but my ex-wife feels I should force him to sleep alone in order to ultimately build his self-confidence, thwart any future taunting by peers (about being a "baby"), and to be consistent with his sleeping in his own bed at her home (which permits her time with her new baby). Bottom line: is my allowing him to sleep in my bed (and the inconsistency of half-a-week in his own bed at his mother's house) detrimental to him? What do you suggest?
A: Some American parents share a bed with their infants and preschool children. There are many different reasons for this but sometimes parents believe that co-sleeping is necessary for the child to develop a feeling of security.
On the other hand, some experts warn that bed sharing prevents the child from attaining self-reliance, promoting instead an unhealthy dependence.
The strong opinions advanced by both advocates and critics of co-sleeping have been fueled by limited data to support either view. However, recent information is beginning to show that bed-sharing neither leads to the long-term psychological consequences feared by its detractors nor the substantial benefits promoted by its supporters. And while some information exists about the effects of co-sleeping within intact families, families divided by divorce have not been studied.
Therefore, whether it's good or bad for a particular child may depend on the family's individual situation. This leads us to the specifics of the question. Divorce is confusing for a child and often provokes great anxiety. Since he has adjusted to solitary sleeping when with his mother, he's capable of doing it.
The key question is whose needs are being served.