I’m wondering if it’s normal for children to have full access to their parent’s bedroom at all hours of the night and day. My wife lets our children fall asleep with her in our bed and then she doesn’t move them when we go to bed at night. She tells me that it helps the children feel more secure to know that they can have access to their parents anytime. We have no privacy for us and we always have at least one or two of our kids in the bed at any given hour. I feel like a selfish dad for asking this, but it’s getting old having to share with all of these extra bodies.
It sounds like the old attachment parenting debate is alive and well in your marriage!
What you’re describing is the collision of two very different theories of childrearing that won’t be easy to resolve in a few sentences. However, the first thing I offer you is: Don’t lose hope. If you have a partner who is open to your perspective, this is something you can work out with her.
What’s my personal opinion, you ask? I think that it’s important to let your children know that you are there for them, but it’s more important to give the marriage it’s own time and space that doesn’t include children. The marriage is a separate entity from the children and family and it needs to be nurtured in its own special way.
I do agree with your wife that your children need to feel safe and know that their parents are accessible and responsive to their needs. This is the great contribution of attachment parenting. However, I believe this can be taken too far – to the point where parents become afraid that if their children aren’t “attached” to them all of the time the children will suffer.
Quite honestly, I see more marriages suffering from lack of attention than children suffering from lack of attention. And, when marriages suffer, children ultimately pay the price.
You both sound like very conscientious parents whose children probably get plenty of love and attention. I would continue talking with my wife about carving out a space for the marriage that doesn’t include the children. Perhaps all of the little bodies can be cleared out of the parents’ bedroom before you both head to bed so the two of you can have talk, touch, and reconnect at the end of the day. There are lots of possible solutions to getting your couple’s time, but the value of the marriage bed is a conversation worth having.
If your wife won’t budge on this, go right to the heart of the matter and ask her how she feels about being alone with you. There might be marriage issues you’re not aware of and she might be using the children as a way to protect her from having to be alone with you.
If your marriage is really not the issue here, then stay with the conversation until you can carve out a special space for your marriage both in and out of the bedroom. Your children will have more security and a stronger foundation when mom and dad are connected.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2012, all rights reserved