I’ve seen some articles floating around on the web and on Facebook recently about the benefits or negatives associated with co-sleeping (letting your kids sleep in your bed at night at various ages). I can see both sides of the equation, but I’d like to share some thoughts from a marriage ministry perspective.
Let me begin by admitting that I, too, found it comforting and convenient to have my baby daughter right next to me at night. She was my first child and, as a breastfeeding mama, it was super convenient to just roll over and feed her at night. However, that experience led to some tense moments in my marriage. My husband missed me. He missed sex. He missed his “marriage bed.” Fortunately, he was honest enough to talk to me about it and we were determined not to co-sleep with our son when he came along. And, it was actually a good thing for us, a great thing for our son, and ended up being filled with precious moments for me! Having to get out of bed and go to his room to feed him was rough at first, but sitting in a rocking chair in his room, just me and him, was a time that will forever be etched into my mind. In my bed, as I fed my daughter, I’d drift in and out of semi-sleep and we’d both wake up my husband and he’d toss and turn. I spent more time worrying about things than I did actually enjoying having her there.
Also, confession #2 . . . when my husband and I were separated, I found extreme comfort in my, then, 14-year-old daughter sleeping with me. I needed her and she needed me. I get how simply sleeping in the same bed with your kid can provide comfort on a whole other level – for BOTH of you! If Steve and I had divorced, I would have to admit that having her with me at night would probably continue to be something I’d want until she went to college. So, I get it! I really do!
All of that being said, those were MY experiences. I’m sure there are many other good and bad experiences with co-sleeping out there. But reading these articles left me wanting to ask this question to the married moms who were such huge advocates of letting their kids sleep with them up into their adolescent years: “Is your husband as excited as you are about co-sleeping?” Perhaps they would respond with an emphatic “yes!,” but I have a hard time believing that a husband would want to share his marriage bed with kids for years on end. Again, maybe I’m wrong about that and I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong if I hear from husbands otherwise.
I’m not judging those who choose to co-sleep. I pray that their choices work for their families and that their marriages are not suffering from it. I’d like to suggest to any reading this, however, that you remember this valuable nugget of wisdom: Your marriage is the most important human to human relationship you have . . . not your relationship with your kids. The bottom line is that without a healthy marriage, your kids will not have the relationship with you that you want them to have. If your marriage crumbles, the entire family dynamic has to change and hence, your relationship with your kids has to change.
So friends please . . . value your marriage. Value your spouse. When you put your kids first in all things and neglect the needs of your spouse you are, in essence, neglecting your kids. They need their mom and dad to be happy and healthy in their marriage. Marriage first, parenting second. You’ll find that if you invest in your marriage first, joyful parenting just flows from it naturally and the kids are happy because you are happy.