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bio-dad not ok with step-parent cosleeping

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone. I've been a looooong time lurker, and have almost always been able to find input on any concern I've had without a need to post a new thread. But now I'm lost and I could use some advice and/or guidance/direction.

I'm not sure if this would be better posted in the family bed section, so please let me know.

My 5 year old son's biological father and I shared a home for financial reasons until a few months ago. We have slept apart for most of my son's life, but my son has shared a bed with either his dad or with me (most often me) since he was born. Dad & I have not been romantically an "item" for many years, and DS knows that.

I began sharing a rented room with my BF a few months ago. DS's father has expressed deep-seated concern over DS sharing a family bed with BF and me. His dad and I have discussed it, and he's said that he would be okay with it if we could get a "professional" to say it wouldn't harm DS's emotional or mental well-being.... which IMHO is a little extreme and possibly an "out" for him, especially considering how incredibly strapped for $ we are. However, we are both very open and honest with one another, and i know full well that his concerns are very real for him, rooted in genuine concern for our son. Out of respect for his wishes, my BF and I agreed that BF would sleep on a twin mattress while my DS is with me.

The general plan for the future is that in a few months when BF and I move into our own apartment, we will gently transition DS to his own bed in his own room, likely by starting with me cosleeping with him on his own bed, with him being allowed to come into our room whenever he awakens in the night, if he wishes.

However, time is showing that this solution is not working for BF or me. He feels 'ousted' from what is supposed to be a FAMILY bed. My DS is quite comfortable with BF and has fallen asleep for naps and such with him. I agree that BF is being ousted from fulfilling an important element in our family.


Additionally, I'm also now pregnant. My concerns for the family cohesiveness is further deepened, as BF and I plan to cosleep with the infant. I don't know how to ease my ex's concerns, but MY concerns are eating away at me. As it is right now, BF is on the floor, excluded from DS's & my "family" bed. We're supposed to transition DS to his own room just months before the new baby arrives, which, to me, seems like it sends the message to my DS that a) BF has taken DS's place in "my" bed, swiftly followed by a) new baby has taken over DS's place in the FAMILY bed.


I'm hoping this isn't too disjointed to make sense of.

I could really use some feedback or suggestions.

post #2 of 45

I don't think you'd be able to find a professional that'd say co-sleeping with your BF is okay for your DS... co-sleeping with bio-parents at his age is already pushing the boundaries of what is socially accepted. 


I didn't co-sleep with my older kids, so never had this issue when DH and I got together. What my kids did do often, was climb in with me in the morning... but when DH started staying over, I just got up when the kids woke up. Neither me or DH felt comfortable with it. If something awful happened and it was believed that your son had been sexually abused, who do you think would top the list of suspects? The BF, so why do something that'll call him that much more into question? Now, that being said, my ex and his parents are spiteful, bitter people and had already called children & families on me once before DH and I ever got together, so I had to think about how they could try and hurt my family, and try to be infallible. After we'd been together for longer, probably around the time we got married, the kids now sometimes come in in the mornings.


What I'd suggest doing is set up another bed for DS, and start referring to the family bed as your BF's bed, then you can just move beck and forth between the two beds, but don't have BF and DS sharing a bed.

post #3 of 45

My personal opinion?  It's creepy.  That's my first gut reaction.  I wouldn't even have the child in the same room with a "new" man.  When I got together with ds2's father, ds1 was 4yo.  I would never have dreamt of letting my son share a bed with my ex, and we were married before we ever slept under the same roof!


(FTR, I am a huge proponent of co-sleeping)

post #4 of 45

We cosleep and I could see DH being very upset if we broke up and I was cosleeping with someone else and DD.

I would be very upset if DH was cosleeping with his GF and our DD.

Like the PP, I'm pretty sure any professional would also have a problem with it, being that there is already a stigma against cosleeping, even with both bio parents.

I would start transitionaing him to his own bed now, since BF sleeping seperately is an issue for you.

post #5 of 45

Quite frankly, I don't think your new BF has any business co-sleeping with your son.  You guys aren't really a "family" yet, and your son hasn't had a whole lot of time to adjust to a new living situation and a new "parent."  Also, I have concerns about your BF feeling ousted, as he is an adult and should understand that the needs of a child come first.  Besides which, the child already HAS a father, whose comfort level with the situation has to be considered.  It won't kill your BF to sleep on the twin mattress. 

post #6 of 45
Originally Posted by ModerateMom View Post

Quite frankly, I don't think your new BF has any business co-sleeping with your son.  You guys aren't really a "family" yet, and your son hasn't had a whole lot of time to adjust to a new living situation and a new "parent."  Also, I have concerns about your BF feeling ousted, as he is an adult and should understand that the needs of a child come first.  Besides which, the child already HAS a father, whose comfort level with the situation has to be considered.  It won't kill your BF to sleep on the twin mattress. 

This is what I really wanted to say but couldn't find the words for!

post #7 of 45

I don't think it's appropriate for kids to sleep with their step-parents.  And a new boyfriend isn't a step-parent.  Your son isn't an infant who's unaware who he's sleeping with, beyond the mom who's breastfeeding him.  He's five.  You're behaving as though there's a level of intimacy between your son and your boyfriend that truly only exists between YOU and your boyfriend.

post #8 of 45

I agree with the other posters.  Co-sleeping has its place, but I think having a five year old co-sleep with his mother's boyfriend is inappropriate.  Transition him to his own bed. 

post #9 of 45
Originally Posted by rnra View Post

I agree with the other posters.  Co-sleeping has its place, but I think having a five year old co-sleep with his mother's boyfriend is inappropriate.  Transition him to his own bed. 

Yep, I agree!
post #10 of 45

I don't think I would do it. But then again I've considered it myself because my youngest is 3 and we co-sleep now. I have co-slept with all of my children. :)  I would have to be with a man a lonnnng time though before even considering and child would be on other side of me away from the man and I would have to be married. Also depends on the sex/age of the child.

post #11 of 45

I think 5 is old enough to sleep on his own. I don't know how long you have been with BF and what your plans are, but I think that he doesn't need to be a part of the "family bed" since your ds will be going into his own bed soon, anyway. If your ds was an infant, I think your BF would have a vaild point in not being able to share a bed with *you* for a few years. But that isn't the situation. I would start by easing your son out of your bed, into a bed on the floor next to yours; then eventually to his own room. You can also let him fall asleep with you, then move him; and when he wakes up the am, he can come cuddle. That way, your BF can be with you after your ds is asleep; problem solved :)

post #12 of 45

I can see where you are coming from, mysticninja, especially with wanting to be careful how you transition your son with the coming baby. But, I also think it is important to respect your ex's boundaries around this. There will not be an expert who will tell you it is okay, despite the fact that it is more than likely just fine. And I think that if you did go to a professional, they would raise the same red flags as your ex and the others here.


My daughter's dad and I took up separate residences around the time dd was 3, and she had just turned 5 when I approached my ex about transitioning out of co-sleeping with her. While I did not have any doubts that dd was perfectly safe co-sleeping with her dad, I know the way society would look at a man co-sleeping alone with a girl, even if they were related. I could imagine what her teachers or other people would say if my daughter told them she slept in her dad's bed, and I did not want my family to have to face any consequences or suspicion because of it.


Can you have some honest conversations with your bf about this, and explain that he is not ousted, but that you need to A. respect your ex's wishes and B. be sure you are not putting the new family you are creating in a situation that would make others question? Also, can you use the time you are pregnant to slowly transition your son out of your bed, and keep it as is (with your boyfriend on a twin mattress elsewhere,) for the time being? Maybe if you transition to going into your son's room at night with him while he falls asleep eventually, he will get used to his own space. And talk to your ex- where do his boundaries lie? Is it okay if your son sleeps elsewhere and comes in the room in the morning for some snuggles with you? I would really try to create some excitement around the concept of the big boy bed, and also talk about how there needs to be room for the new baby. Also, focus on all of the wonderful things about being the big brother.


Good luck, mama.

post #13 of 45

I wouldn't want my kids sleeping with a strange adult either.  My advice is to get your son in his own bed immediately so that he doesn't feel like the new baby took his place. 

post #14 of 45

I have not read all of the posts yet, but wanted to offer my unformed thoughts just for now.


I am a single mother (no father involved) who has co slept and continue to co sleep with all 3 of my kids, baby, 4 and 7 years. Since the  baby arrived, ds 1 and 2  take turns in the 'big bed' and the side bed. It works like this. I dont feel the rush to put the big kids in their own beds, they could if they wanted but it works for us like this. Why not? We are a co sleeping family.


I sometimes wonder what would happen if a man were to become involved in our lives.


In some ways, our co sleeping situation is a signal to any potential guy that he is entering family territory and he had better have his priorities right. I dont see any reason to interrupt how our family functions, (to the benefit of the kids) for the sake of a man, or for the sake of an adult sexual/intimate relationship with a man. I can wait for that. My family comes first. My sons and my daughter come first.


As for co sleeping, i would not even consider having the man in the bed with us,  unless we had known each other a very long time, and we were married.(that is to say, committed for life, yes, i want commitment before you enter into family territory) No stranger gets in our bed. (grandma joined us once)


But you have a boyfriend.  Your situation is different. My first instinct is to agree with the other posters who said that he has no place in your family bed, since he isnt family yet, and he isnt putting the son first. Your son has already had a disruption in his life, and now he has to share his bed  and his mom, with some guy?


I would say, let the boyfriend sleep on the sofa, and keep sexual relations to some other time of the day. Plan it, with 5yo best interests, not bf's best interests at heart.


Your 5yo may like having his own bed, but that doesnt mean  he has to be kicked out because of some guy. How do you think that is going to make him feel?


So i say, have patience, put the boys interests first. If the bf is meant to be part of your  family, then he can wait. 


Yes, a 5yo can have his own bed, but now is the worst time to do it. Wait maybe, a couple of years.....i dunno, who needs to rush?

post #15 of 45

ps sorry, i forgot the part about the baby. That makes it even more complicated. I think if you and boyfriend are co sleeping with a baby, then thats even more reason to allow the boy to continue in the big bed (with an option for a side bed, or his own bed in another room, but a real option, not a forced one) Your son, you, baby(in a snuggle nest), then  boyfriend. The boyfriend is right on the the other side of your son, ...im not sure about what to do about your ex's intransigence on the issue. I totally understand it, but perhaps with time, and a new baby, you could explain the need for flexibility. Not to mention, its only a matter of time before the big guy is going to want his own bed anyway. But with a new baby, and a new man, i feel really sorry for him if on top of that he  is kicked out of his bed.

post #16 of 45

 OP,i just read your post more carefully, and want to apologize for referring to your bf as 'some guy', when clearly he is doing his best at being sensitive to your family needs, and effectively committing to your family. I would still recommend a gradual approach even and especially when the baby arrives.

post #17 of 45

My partner doesn't have a family bed with his kids, but they spend a lot of nights there anyway, including many nights when I was there. I have never been kicked out of the bed when the kids wanted to sleep there, just because of what "other people" might think. If the kids were in any way uncomfortable, that would obviously be different. OP says that her ds is perfectly comfortable cosleeping with her bf, so to me the situation isn't that simple. It's weird to act like something is creepy when it's not, just because it could seem creepy to others. Especially in your own bedroom at night- like the walls have eyes or something.


To me it sounds like OP is already a family with her partner, and I find it a little strange that so many people seem to be holding marriage as the standard of commitment. None of us know her family, and can't possibly know how long their relationship is likely to last. Of course ds's dad's feelings have to be taken into account, and he could call CPS and make a lot of trouble for OP and her family. But to me, that's what the question comes down to- is he threatening to call CPS? Because my ex's feelings don't have that much of a place in my bedroom. If he were concerned about sexual abuse, which is what this seems to be leading to, then he would be concerned about bf being in the house at night at all. If he were going to molest the child, it would in fact be easier if ds sleeps alone in his own bedroom, away from his mom.


If ex is afraid that OP and her partner are going to have sex with ds in the bed, or be otherwise inappropriately intimate with him in the room, that's a valid concern that he should just come out and state. But just sleeping, fully clothed- where is the harm in that? If it were me, I would ask my ex to be open about what harm he fears might come to his son, and address those head on. Because it's hard enough to work out who sleeps where, with a five year old used to cosleeping, a new baby on the way, and a newly moved in step parent, without having to follow someone else's rules and standards in your own home at night. If it were my house, those rules would be out the window anyway, if it meant getting some sleep at 3am!

post #18 of 45

Singin'intherain,  im glad you posted this.


As a single mother (as opposed to single woman without children), commitment becomes more important in a relationship because of the impact on children. 

but really, having a child together represents a greater commitment in a couple than marriage. You can dissolve a marriage, but a child in the equation commits a couple for life. up to them on how that will look, but they are in it for life. in that respect, the bf is a committed party by being a father to the baby on the way.  

Edited by contactmaya - 1/2/13 at 6:37am
post #19 of 45

I think your ex is right to not want his child sleeping with your new partner. It's time for a big boy bed.

post #20 of 45

I think this is a tough one. 


I don't think that what you're doing is creepy. 


I also don't think that you ex is out of line for finding it inappropriate. 


The best solution is really better boundaries - the sleeping situation at your house is your business, at ex's house it's his business, and unless the child is having a real problem and needs help, it's not a topic for discussion between the divorced adults. But a five-year-old can't understand that, and should not be asked to keep secrets.


I think you can solve this with logistical changes - new, nice mattresses for your family sleeping space, an inclusive setup (maybe mattresses on a shared tatami mat, or arranged around a central feature such as a table?) and new rituals. Maybe your partner reads to your son in his bed and snuggles with him and moves to your shared bed (in the same room) once your son is asleep? With a new baby, one bed for big kid, one bed for Daddy, and one bed for Mom and baby is really not a bad idea. 


Whatever you decide to do, it makes sense to get a new routine established before the birth. That always makes sense. 

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