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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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I have a situation here. Let me tell you the history. 7 years

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I have a situation here. Let me tell you the history. 7 years ago I started dating my child's mother and I also met my stepdaughter for the first time. I met her in September 2003 and she and her stepdaughter moved in with me in November. At that time I did not own a home and I was staying at my parent's house in their guest bedroom. In January 2004 my then girlfriend found out she was pregnant and our child was born in October 2004. Time went on. On new year's eve of 2005 I proposed to my then girlfriend and asked her o marry me, she accepted and e got married in May of 2005. Over time our relationship was very rough and at times extremely on edge and moving into a house with my wife became more and more of a scare to me as I knew that our marriage was on the rocks and I didnt want to make such an extreme committment to buy and move into a home with her. So my daughter and stepdaughter as well as myself and my wife lived in my parent's guest bedroom together for 5 years until in late 2008 I had found out that my wife was cheating on me with another guy and she admitted to it when I confronted her. This was the last straw for me and I moved out and found an apartment in late December 2008 leaving my wife and two daughters behind in my parent's house.Since then I met and fell in love with my current girlfriend and have since moved into a house with her after being with her from Febuary 2009 until now. My parent's have been living in another home they have a few miles away so my wife and daughters now live in the house with my sister who has her own bedroom. My parents support my wife staying in their house with my daughters because they feel that she won't be able to find a decent place nice enough to raise their grandaughter in and my parents are fairly wealthy and have been supporting my wife and daughters lifestyle in their home eventhough my wife works. Now I know that is a whole problem in itself but here is my current situation. My daughter who is now 5 about to turn 6 in October has been sleeping in Bed with her mother all these years along with my stepdaughter who is now 10. My parents usually have the girls a lot at their other home and when they are their they also sleep in the room with my mom and dad more so my younger daughter who is 5 because sometimes my stepdaughter would stay at home with her mother. Whenever my daughter or stepdaughter comes to stay with me and my girlfriend now we try to make them sleep in their own bedroom which is where the big problem is now. My girlfriend is pretty adamant about doing this and tells me that this is nonsense and the girls are too big to be sleeping in bed with adults. Just a few minutes ago actually at around 12:30 am before I wrote this message both of my daughters came in here and and I had put them to sleep in their room around 10:30pm earlier this evening. I am confused at this stage as to how to handle this and worried if I am forcing them to shockingly into such a change. I really would appreciate advice on this as to how I should proceed. Also my daughters mostly stay with their mom who still lives at my parent's house and my youngest spends night off and on throughout the week at my parents who also let her sleep with them in their room. I usually have the girls on the weekends.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using!

Co-sleeping is a hot topic in parenting... Proponents believe that the family bed enhances the parent-child bond and makes children feel secure. They'd say that children should only be moved out when they're ready. Those against it will tell you that co-sleeping sends the message that children can't do anything (even sleep) without their parents thus creating very needy and dependent children with a difficult habit to break.

Here is a great article that outlines the risks and benefits of this type of arrangement:

My personal opinion is that both of your children are absolutely old enough to begin transitioning into their own spaces. This is for a number of reasons, but the primary reason is because of the discord it will cause in your relationship with your girlfriend. It's obvious she isn't comfortable with the sleeping arrangement and to be honest, co-sleeping isn't ideal for parents who need rest or privacy.

You could certainly make the transition slowly by starting with a few hours, then 1/2 night, then the full night in their own bedrooms. Reward their "big girl" behavior through verbal praise and even other rewards if you'd like (e.g., pancakes for breakfast?) Help them to establish their own space by letting them decorate their rooms, pick out the bedding / pillows they'd like in their beds, and encourage them to take a comfort item with them if needed -- favorite toy, blanket, etc. Even though they still may share a bedroom with your parents or their mother, they'll understand that things are done differently at your house. This is certainly not the ONLY thing that's different, so it won't be a terribly difficult thing to understand. It will be an adjustment, but in this case I think it's a healthy change for them both and for your relationship.
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