dealing with mom's issues with cosleeping - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-30-2003, 03:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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As you can see from my signature, I'm not yet a mom. I have done quite a bit of reading and plan to be pretty AP when I do have kids. I think that, in general, my mom will be supportive of my parenting choices-- but the family bed issue is one that worries me a bit.

Lemme splain.... My mother was sexually abused by her father. She's gone through years of therapy and is much more at peace with what happened than she was for a long time. However, I know what happened to her is one reason she is against children sharing their parents bed.
There were very few healthy boundaries in her house growing up, so I don't know if she'll really get the idea that there's a way to share sleep and be afectionate, but that it's not sexual or too enmeshed.

Or, more to the point, intellectually she may understand that sharing the same bed does not mean anything bad is happening, but I don't know what to do about the emotional side of it.

I don't know if I have a specific question here, I just wanted to share my concern and find out if anyone out there had some thoughts to share.
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Old 03-30-2003, 03:52 AM
 
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Research shows that bedsharing reduces the rate of sexual abuse. I am sure that you could find some literture with that kind of info to show your mom. Before I read the end of your post (about why your mom might have issues with it) I was going to suggest that you just agree to disagree, since you would be the mom here. (my mom was very against the idea of us co-sleeping, but we both knew that it was just her opinion, didn't mean that I would have to listen to her problems with it.) Maybe that would still be the case, but I can see why you would want to tread a bit lighter. Mothering had an issue devoted to co-sleeping not that long ago.
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Old 04-09-2003, 04:07 PM
 
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The only thing that made it "okay" with my mom was to sidecar the crib next to the bed... somehow that makes her feel better. Maybe a snugglenest or something similar would make her feel that your dd was "safer". The emotional issues are going to be harder to handle... best of luck.
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Old 04-09-2003, 05:31 PM
 
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Honey, those issues are probably going to be there for your mom when you have a baby totally apart from co-sleeping.

Especially if you have a girl, she is going to see a little vulnerable person and feel strongly like she needs to protect that little person from the harm that she herself suffered. Co-sleeping is probably going to be a "hot spot" for her though.

Here's my advice, since you're asking: you can gently and respectfully suggest to your mom that one way of developing healthy boundaries all around is for your mom to respect the boundaries within your family. Like, you will do what works for you, and your mom can agree (she may need support around maintaining this!) to respect your practices. That in itself is a kind of boundary, do you see?

The main thing that comes up for survivors of sexual abuse is trust. My recommendation (again, since you're asking) is to be upfront in talking about trust as an issue, and gently and patiently requesting that your mom trust you to take care of your child appropriately and responsibly. Remember, your mother didn't get that. She is going to see concerns where others do not, and she may identify strongly with your future child. It may be very difficult for her to disentangle herself from you and from your child (poor boundaries, remember?) Keep honouring and respecting her. You may want to tell her that she is free to say anything to you, and that you will always listen to her.

Keep in mind that co-sleeping is not the issue. The issue is your mom's sense of self was not allowed to develop without negative interference in her family of origin. If you like, you could view this as an opportunity to have your mom get complete about what happened in her family of origin - to transform her experience of families as places of love, trust, respect, and healthy and appropriate nurturing, places in which parents (that would be you, soon) are responsible and accountable for their behaviour.

I'm a little worried that this sounds preachy, but I'm giving it up to you and your mother. Take what you like and leave the rest (as they say at my La Leche League meetings!)

Love, Alexandra
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Old 04-11-2003, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your responses, everybody.

First, Tammy, can I just say, your daughter is so cute!

I think you're all right as far as laying down boundaries, I had to that with her when she and my dad were getting a divorce and I was hearing some inappropriate details. It took a bit of enforcing, but eventually she got the hang of what was and what wasn't appropriate. And it helps that she's been in therapy for years-- she at least understands the concept of boundaries and why they're important. And my mom generally respects my decisions-- and I'm pretty good at doing what I think is right regardless of what she thinks.

Maybe I just feel guilty because I know this will bring up issues for her and I try to minimize that when I can??

Oh well, can't live my life walking on egg shells, right?

OneTrickPony-- I hadn't really thought about this as a chance to help my mom heal a bit, thanks. Something to keep in mind...

Again, thanks for the responses.
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Old 04-11-2003, 07:55 PM
 
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I wanted to add my comment in here too....

I was molested by my step-dad (the actual act of molestation only happened once while I was awake but many times while I slept....but he also groomed me for years, I find that much harder to overcome)

Anyway, I was molested, my mother was molested by her dad and all of his friends (they would come over drunk and her dad would let them have their way with his daughters) DH's father is in prison for trying to rape his daughter when she was 21 (he had molested her and her sister all of their lives up until then, and he gets out next year )

So, sexual abuse is very heavy in my family and in my in-laws', so I have a very very hard time trusting men. I don't like to be alone with them (although I am at times, it takes a great deal of self-control to not freak out sometimes) most men give me the creeps!

But, for me co-sleeping is so natural! I trust DH, I know that when him and DD are in bed that there is nothing going on that shouldn't be....it has taken me a long time to be able to feel like I could trust someone like that.

I agree, this is just going to have to be a healing issue for your mom, it will be hard....but you can't compromise your family in order to make her feel better.
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Old 04-11-2003, 10:05 PM
 
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First,

Rachel, I am so sorry to hear about what you went through and I hope you are healing. Its unforgiveable that it happened to you and that is happens to so many, and its unforgiveable that society is so complacent about it.

Second,
I plan to co-sleep but I am actually concerned about this same issue. I trust dh implicitly, and think it totally outside the realm of possibility for him to consciously, and I stress consciously, do anything. but what about unconscious, half asleep groping, without even knowing who he is touching... obviously this would be more of an issue when the child is older, but still. I am sure we have all experienced the, hey honey do you remember what we did last night" question to which dh's answer is "no".

Again, I think it very unlikely, but I seriously have a hard time getting past this one.
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Old 04-13-2003, 03:29 AM
 
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Thanks, this happened when I was 13 (almost 10 years ago) so I've had some time to heal. There are still issues I deal with, but I'm working through them. My mom was such a great support to me, the reason it only happened once that I was aware was b/c she believed me and took immediate action.

Sorry, that was slightly off topic.

I wouldn't worry too much about groping in his sleep, the baby will probably sleep very close to you. Also, I think he would be aware of the fact that it isn't you who he is touching. My DH likes to touch at night too, but has NEVER even come close to touching DD! He is aware when it is me or her sleeping next to him, when it is her he just scoots over and lets her sleep. When it is me I have to fight him off with a stick to get any sleep
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