7 year old boy sleeping in my bed after divorce ... is it ok?

Hi all, I need some help calibrating what's appropriate.  I have an only child, one son.  His dad and I split up last year, when he was 6.  I have him 50 percent time.  Since we split up, he's been sleeping with me in my king-sized bed on the nights he is with me.  When his dad and I were together, he would only occasionally sleep with us, usually on the weekends.  I value the extra closeness since I'm only with him half the time, and he finds it comforting.  We read and snuggle a bit, and then he falls asleep.  At his dad's, he sleeps in his own bed.  Our split was amicable, and our son is doing well.  My question is whether I should start encouraging him back into his own bed, or let this continue a bit longer. We would both miss it, but I don't want to be doing something that may not good for him.  Anyone have any experience with something similar?  Thanks!

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

My 6 year old daughter and 8 year old son both slept with me for the first month after their dad moved out. Then I transitioned them back to their own rooms. Unless you want your son sleeping with you indefinitely, it would seem wise to shift him back to his own bed. It’s great that you have a close relationship, and it’s also worthwhile to take a step back, as you are doing, to make sure you’re not maintaining a situation that you both find cozy and loving- but which ultimately will become undesirable. Good luck! You can still have a nice bedtime routine with reading together, etc. just establish a new ritual that is also pleasant. 

I don't personally see any harm. I think it is likely that your son needs the extra closeness, and that this could be contributing to why he is doing so well in the midst of this emotional time. Personally I would just let it be for awhile and see how it goes.

Speaking from my own personal experience, I have an 8 year old son who still climbs into bed with me and my husband, who is his step dad, half the nights that he is with us (which is most of the time). For me, the split with his bio-father was NOT amicable when I was pregnant (he abused me and it escalated out of control very quickly when I was pregnant), and things have been incredibly difficult since our son was born and was a baby (Still worth it of course, because if I hadn't gone through all that, I wouldn't have our son), and there have been issues and emotional abuse from his father (I have sole legal and physical custody and he only sees his father one night per week and on some holidays, because of the abuse and medical neglect issues recognized by the courts). For us, I am pretty sure that the fact that our 8-year-old needs extra closeness is related to the anxiety and things he has had to grapple with from our situation in general with having a family that feels very split, as well as dealing with his father who is still incredibly angry (unfortunately totally unwilling to recognize it and seek help, though I wish he would, even when our co-parenting therapists have brought it up to him). I remarried when our son was almost 4. My husband is very loving, understanding and supportive, and that definitely helps. Until recently we just took it night by night. Sometimes he would want to sleep in his own bed. Lately, we have started encouraging him to sleep in his own bed sometimes, but we take it night by night and if he is having a hard time we just try to keep it chill. Sometimes I will tell him that he can fall asleep with us, and that when he is asleep I will put him in his bed and that if he wakes up and needs us he knows where to come find us for more snuggles-- that seems to be helping with transitioning him slowly to sleeping in his bed more often. He didn't like it at first but is more accepting of it now and it seems to be helping to find the right balance for our family. Our situation is slightly different from yours I suppose but honestly I still think there are plenty of parallels -- It seems to me that, even with a more quiet and amicable split scenario, kids are still going to feel torn with a family that has separated, and they will need extra support for some time. For me and my husband, we have sought advice from our son's play therapist at times, and she thought there was no harm with the fact that he likes to fall asleep with us or climb into bed with us for extra snuggle time. Sometimes kids just need more closeness and time together with mom or dad if they are experiencing difficult times, even if they seem like they are outwardly doing ok.

I can't tell you what is right for you, but I thought I would share our experience and hope that it helps. Try talking to a therapist for advice, I have found some great advice from doing my own therapy, from co-parenting therapists, and from my son's play therapist. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat, I have to keep my username hidden here but you can ask the moderator for my email. Take care and I send you warm positive thoughts and energy. 

I help my child fall asleep in her own room since her dad died, rather than helping her fall asleep in my room. Maybe try that instead?

I don't see anything wrong with that.

I don't think it's bad for him.  My son slept in my bed occasionally even as a teen. At some point, I acquired a chaise lounge (it's kind of like a long chair) and he's also slept there, even though he's over 6 feet tall.  That was nice because I didn't have to worry about getting kicked.  Also, sometimes he'd want to keep talking and I'd want to go to sleep, so I'd just tell him to let me go to sleep and tell me whatever it was in the morning.  If there's a reason you want to sleep by yourself, tell him, but I don't see a problem. 

My son is now 13 and started sleeping with me when he was about 5, when we parents separated. Both he and I needed the extra security and warmth. He had nightmares for a couple of years after we separated and moved, and after trying for a while to get him to sleep in his room part of the night, I realized we just all slept better if we were in the same bed. Sleep is a big priority! And when you don't see him half the week - plus working hours and school - those extra hours together become very important. Of course it won't last - they grow up and want to be alone. But at this point, my son still sleeps with me (and also his dad, at his house) a few times a month, but also sleeps great on his own, has sleepovers and sleepaway camps, does fine in his own room - and btw is happy, an almost straight A student, very athletic, lots of friends, and no more nightmares ever. I believe that giving him that extra cuddling and support when he really needed it is a big part of why he's doing well now, despite divorced parents. 

One suggestion in addition to therapy is trying a weighted blanket for sleeping.   Our daughter is older, and suffers from severe anxiety and insomnia and the weighted blanket has allowed her to sleep at night without medication.   I ordered it off of Amazon.  Probably a 5 pound one for an 8 year old.