Sharing sleep: An in-depth look

Everyone in my home was happier, but the criticism that I received was harsh and overwhelming. Well meaning parents, grandparents, doctors and friends had to tell me that I was making a big mistake. "How could I bring my baby to bed with me?" My child would be spoiled and our marriage would end in shambles. Well, my experience taught me a few things. First, children don't spoil through love - they spoil through material possessions. There is no way to "overlove" a child. The more they are loved, the more love they give out. I have met other children who have been brought to bed with their parents, and they are happy, alert, and very cuddly. These are well-adjusted children.

Our society's interpretation of children in the bed can involve a suspicion of incest. Attachment style parenting and pedophilia are concepts that diametrically oppose each other. Yet those who frown on "family bed" are very eager to discuss incest and family bed in the same sentence. Parents can care about their children, cuddle them, and sleep with them without any sexual experience whatsoever. Yet when a child is in bed with their parent a red flag is raised. We are dealing with a very sad state of affairs.

My sons are now 5 and 9. Both roam between their own bed and our bed. Both of them are very warm, compassionate boys. Despite the harsh criticism we received when they were babies, family members now note how loving and cuddly they are.

When I explain my parenting philosophy to the university students, it comes down to this simple point: Independence does not emanate from a vacuum. Children need a strong sense of security and dependence before independence can flourish. Therefore, if you want an independent child, you must allow him to be very dependent and establish a strong level of security. My children were breastfed until they weaned themselves and they have spent many a night in my bed. Despite all that, they both went to preschool eagerly without a tear and they do not cling to my leg. In fact, most of the time they are too busy running in the other direction!

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