As some of you know, I am an advocate of the family bed. We happened upon this the evening of the day we brought Emily home from the hospital. I couldn’t tolerate that my tiny new baby lay in that cage of crib all alone after spending the first part of her existence within me; my maternal instincts screamed at me to pull her into the bed with us. As soon as I heeded this urge, I felt my anxiety melt away and fell into an innate rhythm of nursing and sleeping through the night.
In The Mother Consciousness
I discuss how this prompted me to research the practice of the family bed around the world. I discovered that we were one of the few countries to displace their infants and children from the vicinity of the sleeping quarters of the mother; most infants of the world sleep within the close proximity of the mother in order to beckon the needs of her off spring.
So, with my innate yearnings and the realization that this was only taboo in my backyard we ventured into the realm of co-sleeping
Today, we live in a world where children are disconnected from their mothers & fathers for the majority of their day. Working parents send their younglings to daycare and nursery schools leaving them with a couple waking hours to spend together. If older children are not in school they are off with their friends or absorbed by all of the technology the 21st century offers them. My conclusion is that if you spend time sleeping together at least you have the opportunity to energetically connect.
Recently, I observed some teens that have both parents working out of the home. Now, I am not against the working mother. I was a working mother for the first 6 years of my motherhood, but I am against the parent that takes mothering lightly resulting in unsupervised children or children left with no moral development. A few of the things I saw these kids doing alarmed me... like lighting bottle rockets at their neighbor’s home and lying in the street during rush hour.
That evening during one of our twilight conversations my daughter and I discussed the behaviors we had observed. We talk about the safety issues, the lack of self control and even the boy girl dynamics we witnessed. We were able to have this discussion in the quiet of the night without contempt or the lecturing that typically follows such incidents; at an angle of respect, unconditional love, and self-empowerment.
This is just one of the many times that I understood that the family bed
offered a sanctuary to my budding tween. Somehow over the years she has been able to disclose feelings and experiences in this setting that she hasn’t been able to process during the height of the day. It had become a safe haven where all judgment lay behind and it is understood that no matter what she discusses with me regardless of the topic is met with openness.
Could co-sleeping have prevented such deviant behavior in those teens? In and of itself…probably not, but it could have set the stage to reduce the need for attention seeking behaviors that could harm oneself or others. When an infant cries it is cueing the mother to respond, when the infant's needs are responded to appropriately and in a timely manner, the child learns that they can trust the primary caregiver which generalizes to all adults.
When children are displaced and forced to sleep in a separate room and cries are not satiated, they are being hardwired that they cannot trust the adults around them. I believe that when this occurs they learn early on that they have to have dramatic tantrums (lying in the street) in order to get the attention they deserve. In this case, negative attention is better than no attention at all.
I understand the need for independence and self empowerment, but I believe this can be achieved through other means than displacing our children from the close proximity of the mother during the sleeping hours. I also understand the concern of the marital bed, but let me reassure you that in no way has this inhibited our relations. In fact, this has created the opportunity to become creative and spontaneous in our connections. More so, the flirting and quiet sexual innuendos between my husband and myself during our daily activities has created a greater sense of romance; something I see missing from many couples that are far beyond the honeymoon phase of their marriages.
All in all, I have no regrets for the decision we had made in regards to our sleeping arrangements. In fact, I believe that one of the reasons that our youngest daughter (whom is diagnosed with autism) easily displays affection to us and people outside the family construct is because of the foundations laid by attachment parenting practices; co-sleeping and extended breastfeeding. I believe that each of my children have gained positive attributes that have been fostered through these practices.
Last night, however, after creating the perfect sleeping space, Emily decided on her own accord to sleep in her new room. It was a long night for us all… we could hear her toss and turn among her surrogate mothers (stuffed animals) trying to find that perfect nesting space. Then her little sister tossed and turned with the absence of her big sister.
This, too, is a task that I am sure we will all adjust to. And in the mean time, I will have to make a conscious effort to continue to connect with my daughter and offer opportunities for open communication based on trust and respect.