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#1 of 23 Old 06-29-2004, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am looking for reference materials that address the question of having a
child share a bed with a non-blood relative - for example a boyfriend or
girlfriend of a divorced parent. Does anyone have any knowledge of authoritative research or analysis into this area?
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#2 of 23 Old 06-29-2004, 12:58 PM
 
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My son slept with me from birth <no "father", ever>. When my now husband & I first moved in together, we all slept together, no problem. When we got married, my dh moved on to another shift, so it was just babe & I in bed at night...however--there are times where my dh and son sleep together, like when dh is home at night on the weekends, or if dh is taking him to preschool that day, etc.

I'm not sure what your ? is, though...are you asking if it's ok? If it's legal? If it's damaging to the child/relationship?? Can you clarify?

Hope this helps some!!

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#3 of 23 Old 06-29-2004, 12:58 PM
 
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What exactly are you looking for? Numbers? Effects? Whether it is statisticaly a good idea?

I don't think I have ever heard of any studies that specificaly looked into it btw, but it might be easier for someone to help you if you could be a little clearer on what you are looking for.

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#4 of 23 Old 06-29-2004, 02:02 PM
 
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I married my hubby when my children were 5 and almost 3 years old. He had been living with us since they were a bit younger though. They had already been co-sleeping with me from birth. When he moved in he just joined our already family bed lol. He is not their biological father, but that's never been any issue at all.

I got a remark or two about my daughter sleeping in the same bed with my hubby alone some years ago. Was it safe? Did I ever worry? I was totally disgusted by the very question. If I had any thought whatsoever that it wasn't safe, would I even be married to this man?? Let alone having my children sleep in our bed with him... sheesh lol. Kristi

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#5 of 23 Old 06-29-2004, 02:50 PM
 
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I personally don't think that it's a good idea unless it's a very commited relationship. i.e. live together permanently, are going to get married, or are married.

I don't think it's good to have people coming in and out of your kids lives and having them get attached. To have a boy/girlfriend sleep in bed w/ your kids when you've only been together for a bit or even if you've been together for awhile but don't live together just seems like setting your kids up for disappointment. It also seems a bit dangerous in those circumstances because no matter how much you like said boy/girlfriend if they haven't commited yet you don't know them that well.
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#6 of 23 Old 06-29-2004, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some have asked what exactly I am asking about... my question is, specifically, are there any authoritative studies or research that help guide a parent in dealing with the issue of permitting a non-blood relative to share the same bed as a child.

I would like to learn more as my instinct is that it is abhorrent. I am a divorced father who has over 50% custody of my 2.5 year old son. His mother has started to date someone with whom she allows my son to lay in bed. I am not told who this person is, or where he lives, and while I am researching the legal implications of this, prefer to understand my son's developmental implications from an authoritative and credible basis, if one exists, so as to be able to effectively articulate to my son's mother why I don't like the practice.

So, is it legal, prudent, developmentally sound, safe, or advisable for a child; and if one parent does not like the practice, in a mutually respectful divorced relationship between two parents, should not the other parent respect this opinion and stop allowing it?
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#7 of 23 Old 06-29-2004, 08:01 PM
 
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That's really nice that you are so open and are concidering your sons needs.

I don't know about developmental studies but as far as legal implications you could call and ask your local CPS or Human Health Services. They might know.

We are Foster Parents and I know that foster kids aren't allowed to share a bed with anyone. There lots of reasons to that that don't apply here at all. Those services might have the answers you are looking for, though.
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#8 of 23 Old 06-30-2004, 01:03 AM
 
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It is legal in my state of Oregon to have a child sleep in the same bed as a non-related adult. It is, of course, not legal for anything inappropriate to be going on with a child in any place with anyone.. bed or not. I hope we are not deciding that co-sleeping is dangerous in that sense....

If a parent was allowing their child to sleep in a bed with someone who was dangerous, then there are likely to be much bigger issues in the parenting as a whole. Just my opinion Kristi

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#9 of 23 Old 06-30-2004, 11:13 AM
 
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I understand your concerns.

The sad truth is, while everybody "trusts" their partners, the vast majority of child abuse comes from "strangers living in the home". In other words, boyfriends or girlfriends, stepparents, etc. that are brought into the family by a parent. Now this is not to say that all boyfriends/stepparents are potential molesters, but the statistics are rather sobering and frightening. You have every right to be concerned, and from what you've told me, I already think your ex is acting selfishly and irresponsibly (you at least have a right to know who this person is!).

With that said, I'm more concerned about the emotional effects as described by lao80. I personally find it pretty sad when single parents bring their partners home willy-nilly to interact with the kids. Cosleeping should be an even bigger step, and reserved only for those who are planning a lifetime commitment. I am sure that if you read some child psychology literature, that you can find more information on this. Check out your local library, or call some of your local child therapists/family therapists and see if they have any book recommendations.

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#10 of 23 Old 07-01-2004, 04:10 PM
 
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Toni, good for you for being so involved! I've been divorced myself, and know how hard it is!

I highly recommend the book Protecting the Gift by Gavin DeBecker.

Personally I wouldn't care with someone I *trust*, but after reading that book I have a much better idea of someone who I should trust. To ME it would not be a potentially transitory boyfriend/girlfriend or in-fact ANYONE who my intuition warned me about.

The fact that you're uneasy is something to listen to and delve into, your instincts are there for a reason.
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#11 of 23 Old 07-01-2004, 05:46 PM
 
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That is a really good book. I second that. I think if the mom won't even tell you who he is that is kind of a bad sign.
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#12 of 23 Old 07-01-2004, 08:07 PM
 
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Since I've played the role of your ex-wife in this scenario, I'll tell you what we did. My ex and I were broken up by the time my son was 2 months old. When I met my husband, my son was 4 and when it was time enough for us to spend the night together, he spent the night with me in the same bed. It was the way that I had always done things, and it was the way I was going to continue doing things. I would never have displaced my son for my partner, and I'm sure you don't want her doing that either.

For us, I think that it was healthier and safer for my son to know that we were safe, with the person that I had chosen to be my partner.

If your ex is not "partnered" per se, I think that this could be detrimental to him, but really, I'm not sure that I can think of a way that you could approach her with this and not immediately place her in defense mode. I'm sure she's trying to do her best, and you sound like you are too.

If my ex had asked me not to co-sleep with my now husband and my son, I'd have been totally pissed. If he had approached me with the info that it is detrimental, I'd likely be more interested in listening to him. I don't know, though, it's a really tough spot.

I'm sorry you're going through this. I wish you the best.
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#13 of 23 Old 07-01-2004, 09:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone who has contributed both in the public forum and also personally to me directly.

I wanted to respond to a comment made by onlyboys in the last posting. Exactly the point of what I am trying to do is to find some research or other authoritative work that indicates why it is potentially detrimental for a child. My ex did exactly as you predicted... became annoyed at my apparent interference in her private life. But my point is that, while i have no interest in her private life per se, I do when it effects my son, and so, again exactly as you predict, my intention is to present to her reasoned information supporting my contention that co-sleeping with a non-blood relative is detrimental.

But it's proving tough to find anything objective. Mental health professionals have uniformly told me that mental health professionals uniformly find it inadvisable to have a child sleep with a non-blood relative, but remain unable to provide anything other than subjective opinions. And CPS in my city only deal with abused children and are unable even to comment on my question.

I am delving deeper now into academia, and am attempting to pursue more anecdotal data as proposed in one post such as statistical data showing non-relative introductions to the household are most likely to be perpetrators of abuse, and then tying that to the accustomization of my son to the practice.

It's tough though... not wanting to interfere with someone elses private life, while at the same time protecting the wellfare of a child... it's very emotional...
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#14 of 23 Old 07-01-2004, 09:25 PM
 
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Yes, it is. And to you.

One thought, and I'm not in any way trying to be adversarial:

Is this relationship definitely detrimental to him? You are infintitely more involved with your son than my ex, but it turns out that my partner became my husband and we're all happily married (and been this way for 4 years).

Could this be a possible scenario for them? I know how difficult this must be for you. If my ex had let my son sleep in bed with his girlfriend and him I would have gone ape shit.
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#15 of 23 Old 07-02-2004, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#16 of 23 Old 07-02-2004, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The question of reciprocity is the litmus test for any behavior in any relationship. To this end, your comment, onlyboys, that had the reverse been the case i.e. that your ex husband had taken your child into his bed with his girlfriend, would have been enfuriating to you, is exactly my point. If it does not seem right in reverse, then it's wrong, wouldn't you agree? Again, I am not making a judgement call in your case as your case appears different with a far less involved father.

And though my ex wife protests to the contrary, i know full well that she would have gone ballistic if the roles were reversed.
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#17 of 23 Old 07-02-2004, 03:26 PM
 
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I see what you are saying, and I agree to a point. The difference is that I could not trust my ex to make decisions that were in the best interest of my son because he never had in the past. I was thinking (hoping) that you could trust your ex to keep your son safe, but I sense that this is not the case.

The issue of reciprocity was not really the litmus test in my situation for various reasons, one being that my ex (boyfriend not a husband) was detached and quite honestly absent from the picture. It would have been wrong because he had never slept in the bed with his father at all, either with a girlfriend or not. Perhaps it wasn't the best comment to make, as the situations are really quite different.


Again, I really hope that things work out for you three.
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#18 of 23 Old 07-05-2004, 05:52 AM
 
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There has been some research that shows that having a stepfather in the house affects the biological development of girls-- even to the point of menarche at an earlier age. I would assume that this is even greater sleeping in the same bed. I don't know about the biological affects for boys, but please share your research with us.

I, personally, would never allow it. Cosleeping is for parents and children. I don't care how much you trust your partner, I think it is totally inappropriate.

Cosleeping is good for children biologically. There is a hormonal exchange that happens between biological parents and children (also, adults that have been in the household since birth-- there is research to show that sexual abuse is much less likely if the adult has known the child since the child was an infant).

But I would venture to guess that with a non-bio parent, that the result would be adverse-- just like when girls reach menarche earlier due to having a non-related adult male in the home. See what I mean?

Of course it might be different if the adult had known the child for several years--- but I do not think that sharing a bed is the best way for boyfriends to get to know their girlfriend's children. I am of the belief that there should already be a serious, committed relationship before children even *meet* the lovers of their parents.
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#19 of 23 Old 07-22-2004, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know if any of the kind people who have participated in this discussion are still looking at this group, but I have done some research on the subject and have found out more.

Firstly, in my particular case there are some specific issues; one is that my son's mother's reluctance to disclose anything at all about her boyfriend to me is considered generally very odd and some kind of control issue she may have. There is a lot in her background that might lead to this conclusion. However, such personal details are unlikely to be of value to any of you.

More pertinent are the issues that pertain to the child. My son, if I've not mentioned it yet, is 2.5 yrs old. He is apparently shortly going to enter an "Oedipal" phase of development where he will form an intense loving bond with his mother. That she brings in a boyfriend could effect the child's development by placing another a competing source for her affection into his life. Consequently, it is important that the boyfriend is introduced in a controlled manner, slowly and deliberately. There are all kinds of issues that swirl around this stage of development; the potential as stated for a sense of competitive loss; importance of only introducing lovers to the child who are firmly established, committed relationships lest the the relationship breaks up and the child, having established a bond, suffers loss at the end of the relationship;

The second component then is the management by the mother of the relationship with me, the father. Despite concerns of privacy, as distinct from secrecy, our son would have been better served had his mother told me that she was involved in a relationship, intended to introduce our son to the boyfriend, and had asked for my support in aiding our son to understand this change. Instead, his mother kept secret the developing events from me, and put our son in the position of messenger i.e. being the one to tell me of the relationship... a role places a heavy burden on him that negatively impacts his development. The child understands the verbal and non-verbal cues that result from my being ambushed by his disclosure to me of his mother's relationship and consequently is confused by the negative reaction.

One could think of his parents not as being divorced "from" each other, but divorced "to" each other from the child's perspective; that to develop effectively, the child is better served by being presented with a unified parental environment, that although his parents are not living together, there is cooperation and consistency in their parenting regime. This should extend to the smaller things in his life, like sleeping patterns/times, toilet training, teeth cleaning, etc., but also to the profound changes in his life like the introduction of his parents' new lovers.

There is a lot more I have learned, but don't want to bore you all! In sum though, cooperation between the parents is highly desirable and conflict should be avoided. The child's health and wellbeing are best served through cooperative parenting. Unfortunately, my personal issue is that my son's mother continues to refuse to tell me anything about her boyfriend except for his first name (and this I learned through my son), refuses to go to a counselor with me to coordinate this and other issues that inevitably will arise in the future, and appears intent on parenting our son according to her own value beliefs based on her unique, and very damaged, psychological background, instead of learning with me through reading and counseling of ways to improve our child's development and eliminate the damaging biases we all carry with us from our own history.

Is anyone still awake now?!
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#20 of 23 Old 07-24-2004, 12:44 PM
 
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Well, I read it! I did a few searches for information on the family bed with non-family members-- it is a total no-go. I found nothing. The only thing that I can recommend is that you send an email or a phone call to one of the major cosleeping experts-- for example, james Mckenna or Dr. William Sears. I have heard that often Sears does reply to personal emails. Perhaps they could lead you to someone who has done some research, but has no published research as of yet.

It still looks like you might have to make some legal rearrangements. I mean, you could always go to court again for custody, and part of the arrangements could be that each partner be aware of any other person in the home, etc. I don't know-- I am not divorced, but it seems plausible to me.

It sounds like you are doing the right thing getting child psycholodists involved. But-- don't go too far with it, I would say. I think what a kid needs to see, more than anything, is that both his parents care for each other and him. I think creating too much of a division over this one topic could create more problems that it solves--- perhaps. I think you need to continue to keep an open and non-threatening discussion with your ex-wife, and hopefully make some compromises. Do keep us posted.
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#21 of 23 Old 08-06-2004, 12:01 AM
 
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Not sure...it depends. Having co-slept with my son for a long time, I was not ina relationship so therefor I have not walked those shoes. I did however feel uncomfortable that my son slept with a didtant family male relative after a family occasion at his granny's (fathers mother--we have not been together since he was 4mo0. This mad me feel uncomfortable because my son had never previously met this person. What message did this sen to my son?...Good luck in finding reourses out there...there is just so much judgement at times..Micheli
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToniLA
I am looking for reference materials that address the question of having a
child share a bed with a non-blood relative - for example a boyfriend or
girlfriend of a divorced parent. Does anyone have any knowledge of authoritative research or analysis into this area?
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#22 of 23 Old 08-07-2004, 12:20 AM
 
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I personally would never do such a thing to my daughter if her father and I were not together. My parents are divorced and my sister and I basically co slept forever! Until my mom got remarried. I don't recall if it was her decision or ours, but I never really felt comfortable with me in bed with both of them. I can tell you that I felt like my mom was picking him over my sister and I and that she loved him more. She dated him for years before they got married, and they didnt' live together before or anything. I wish there was some research for you to have to not allow your ex to do this. I truly believe it is wrong. If anything, I would make my partner sleep else where until my dc was better adjusted. Just my two cents though...
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#23 of 23 Old 08-07-2004, 01:09 AM
 
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Oh wow, I just read this whole thread right now, I found it extremely interesting as this may come up in my life sometime.

This is my feelings on it (yes, yes I know you want data, but I don't have data....I have feelings ), I'm a single mama to a 5 and 3 year old. I could not ever see another man in my house with my kids. I have dated a little, but my kids knew nothing of it. There would be no way another man would sleep in my kids' bed. If I were to actually meet someone I wanted to live with, it would be very slow and gradual. I would have to *wean* my kids out of my bed (very gently and patiently) OR have my new partner sleep elsewhere. My KIDS are totally first in my life and I just would not want to put them in a position they were not comfortable with.

But I'm just Just wanted to let you know that I really feel for you. My X cosleeps with the kids at his house, and if he were to bring a woman I would be appalled and especially if it were done in the manner your X is doing it.

She should be very open with you about this. There is no question about it. Even when I just barely dated a guy I told my X about it, and he told me about a girl he was meeting. We've both agreed that no other people like boyfriends/girlfriends around the kids. We both get ample time to ourselves and are very willing to work with each other so that we can date if we choose to.

Thank you for bringing up this topic, very, very interesting!

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