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When Your Kid Insists...

When Your Kid Insists on Sleeping with You

Every parent needs to carve out personal space at home. We all know this. Yet, if only it was that easy.

So, when Dr. Leah and I got this recent email from a single mom in crisis, we thought hard. Many of you have told us about how you’ve navigated the co-sleeping transition. Your confident advice has been spot on. But this sleeping with kids dilemma has a heart breaking twist. Here’s what the newly single mom told us:

“Last year, my husband called me on his cell while I was at work: he told me that he’d moved out. It was heartbreaking to bring our two kids home—my son was three and my daughter was seven—to find the house in shambles.”

All of his personal items including clothes, sports equipment, and, of course, the flat screen TV were gone. As you might have guessed, this vanishing dad left a financial mess in his wake. So, this single mom had to move in temporarily with her mom. Now (yeah!) she’s back on her feet and in her own place. She can give her children their own bedrooms.

Still, it has been a very tough year. Dad is off doing his thing, and she’s working harder than ever. The kids, who are now four and eight, are doing pretty well, but their absent by choice father is a terrible loss. (We understand).

Here’s what’s got this single mom so upset:
At bedtime, everything just seems to fall apart. Both kids insist on sleeping with her. She has tried making their rooms as attractive as her budget allows. And she has emphasized that “big kids” sleep in their own beds. But, no matter how she much she tries to insist or cajole, the kids always wind up sleeping with her.

This got us emotional: “I think this is all my fault,” she says. “I feel guilty because part of me craves their presence at night. Yes … the kids need me. But the truth is, I need them just as much.”

We definitely get it. This single mom and her children have been through SO much. To everyone’s credit, they’re soldiering on, which is never easy.

Perhaps you have some advice with this complicated and painful parenting dilemma.

Should this single mom stop stressing—and sleep with her kids to soothe both herself and them?

Do they just need time to heal?

Or, should this single mom take definite and consistent steps to end this sleeping arrangement?

If so, what’s the best way to begin?

Originally published on

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