Single mom and preteen sleep together on weekends

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  May 10, 2012 06:00 AM

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I am a single mom to my daughter, age 10. It's just me and her and we are very close. On weekends, I let her sleep in my bed and we hang out and chat and sleep in late. We really enjoy this but I want to make sure it is not harmful for her development. By the way, I don't plan on having a male relationship until she is grown up because she is my top priority, and haven't dated anyone since I broke up with her dad four years ago. Thanks for your insights!

From: Barbsboy, Townsend (no state given)


Dear Barbsboy,

This would be a problem if...

....the conversations the two of you have are about you and your problems;
....you keep her up late at night so she's not getting the sleep she needs;
....you ask her to sleep in your bed because you're lonely and don't sleep well;
....you have to bribe her to get her to sleep with you;
....she turns down girl friends' slumber parties because she doesn't want to hurt your feelings.

Otherwise? I think it's a great way to stay connected and have fun together. In fact, I say, "Enjoy it while you can." She may turn a corner and decide it's too babyish. Many girls hit an age -- typically 12 + -- when they want to forge new connections with their mother based on their own cognitive and emotional growth. In order to get there, they often pick fights because, from the girl's perspective, it's the only way she can clarify and demand a recognition for the new person she sees herself to be. It's a stage that often confounds and upsets moms. Maybe you and your daughter will be ahead of the curve.

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7 comments so far...
  1. I hope you and your daughter continue to enjoy a wonderful relationship. Don't let anyone tell you at X age she will push you away, she might or she might not. My daughter is 17. She has a large group of friends and enjoys spending time with them but will still sit at least 4 or 5 times a week and just talk with me. I laugh and tell her -Don't you know you are supposed to hate me now? - She just laughs back and will say - well there is always tomorrow. As I find myself often seeing Barbara is right on the money. I love common sense advice in a world where common sense is often lost.

    Posted by aueudumu May 10, 12 10:53 AM
  1. The only time I ever really got to be alone with my mom was when I'd climb into her bed on weekend mornings after my dad got up and my siblings were watching tv. I didn't sleep there, but the snuggling and long talks lasted into my early teens. Even (and maybe especially) if I had been screaming at her irrationally the day before, those morning talks gave us a sense of closeness. we are still very close, but not unhealthy in any way.

    I will just agree with Barbara on the caveat not to share your personal problems with her, not only because it would make her feel bad and there's nothing a 10 year old can do anyway, but because it takes time away from the good stuff. When I didnt have anything much to talk about, my mom would tell stories about her childhood or my grandmother's childhood. If she had kicked me out for "developmental" reasons when I was a preteen, I probably wouldn't remember all the family lore!

    Posted by Dee May 11, 12 06:08 AM
  1. There is nothing wrong with that - you and your daughter are close - that's wonderful!

    But, please, don't rule out dating. Don't be a dating martyr. Because your daughter also needs to see you have a healthy, balanced relationship. She not only wants you to be happy, she needs the model. Of course, don't prioritize any man over her - but you should date. I think you may be more open to it as she gets a little older and more independent.

    Posted by Lily- May 11, 12 06:59 AM
  1. I'm in exactly the same situation as you - same age daughter, etc. Barb's bullet points are right on the money. My daughter thinks sleeping in my bed every once in awhile is a treat, too. We single moms often don't get feedback about how we're doing, especially positive, so it's easy to beat ourselves up with worry. (Well, that's probably true of any mom.) From this letter I get the impression that you're prioritizing your daughter, concerned about the impact of your decisions on her development, and that she feels close to you. (clap clap clap) Good for you.

    Posted by QingyuanMama May 11, 12 08:16 AM
  1. The fact you are asking is it alright says it all. You must fell a little creepy. If you feel creepy, than it is creepy. Stop it.

    Posted by JWM May 11, 12 08:44 AM
  1. I'm in the same situation as you too. I'm a single mom of a nine year old and I have joint custody with her dad (I didn't want it, it was court ordered and started last year - before that she was with me most of the time) and I've noticed now that she has a week with either parent she wants to sleep in my bed at the weekends when she's with me. It was not so much an issue when she lived with me more. I agree. I think it's great. I think she just wants as much closeness as she can get because she misses me the week she's at her father's (she misses him too when she's with me) and since she is a girl I have no problem with it. If I had a son it might be different though. I would be afraid it would affect him negatively and I wouldn't want it. Her Dad does not let her sleep in his bed at his place which is best I think. I don't ask her to sleep in my bed - in fact I'm so used to sleeping on my own now I'm quite as happy to sleep on my own (plus I snore which my ex strongly objected to but my daughter doesn't mind!) but I do like the fact she asks me if she can and I know she really loves it and it comforts her. Because it's only at the weekends it's special. My doggy would happily sleep in my bed too if I let him but I keep him downstairs! Boundaries!

    Posted by Belle May 12, 12 06:58 AM
  1. Its wonderful that you have such a good relationship. In my teens my parents went though a messy divorce and after that I spent more nights in my moms room than mine, it just made each of us feel better. I'm now in my 30's and my mom and I still have a great relationship, we talk to each other on the phone all the time and we skype whenever we each get the chance (we live too far away to visit in person).

    Posted by Kali May 18, 12 07:34 AM
 
7 comments so far...
  1. I hope you and your daughter continue to enjoy a wonderful relationship. Don't let anyone tell you at X age she will push you away, she might or she might not. My daughter is 17. She has a large group of friends and enjoys spending time with them but will still sit at least 4 or 5 times a week and just talk with me. I laugh and tell her -Don't you know you are supposed to hate me now? - She just laughs back and will say - well there is always tomorrow. As I find myself often seeing Barbara is right on the money. I love common sense advice in a world where common sense is often lost.

    Posted by aueudumu May 10, 12 10:53 AM
  1. The only time I ever really got to be alone with my mom was when I'd climb into her bed on weekend mornings after my dad got up and my siblings were watching tv. I didn't sleep there, but the snuggling and long talks lasted into my early teens. Even (and maybe especially) if I had been screaming at her irrationally the day before, those morning talks gave us a sense of closeness. we are still very close, but not unhealthy in any way.

    I will just agree with Barbara on the caveat not to share your personal problems with her, not only because it would make her feel bad and there's nothing a 10 year old can do anyway, but because it takes time away from the good stuff. When I didnt have anything much to talk about, my mom would tell stories about her childhood or my grandmother's childhood. If she had kicked me out for "developmental" reasons when I was a preteen, I probably wouldn't remember all the family lore!

    Posted by Dee May 11, 12 06:08 AM
  1. There is nothing wrong with that - you and your daughter are close - that's wonderful!

    But, please, don't rule out dating. Don't be a dating martyr. Because your daughter also needs to see you have a healthy, balanced relationship. She not only wants you to be happy, she needs the model. Of course, don't prioritize any man over her - but you should date. I think you may be more open to it as she gets a little older and more independent.

    Posted by Lily- May 11, 12 06:59 AM
  1. I'm in exactly the same situation as you - same age daughter, etc. Barb's bullet points are right on the money. My daughter thinks sleeping in my bed every once in awhile is a treat, too. We single moms often don't get feedback about how we're doing, especially positive, so it's easy to beat ourselves up with worry. (Well, that's probably true of any mom.) From this letter I get the impression that you're prioritizing your daughter, concerned about the impact of your decisions on her development, and that she feels close to you. (clap clap clap) Good for you.

    Posted by QingyuanMama May 11, 12 08:16 AM
  1. The fact you are asking is it alright says it all. You must fell a little creepy. If you feel creepy, than it is creepy. Stop it.

    Posted by JWM May 11, 12 08:44 AM
  1. I'm in the same situation as you too. I'm a single mom of a nine year old and I have joint custody with her dad (I didn't want it, it was court ordered and started last year - before that she was with me most of the time) and I've noticed now that she has a week with either parent she wants to sleep in my bed at the weekends when she's with me. It was not so much an issue when she lived with me more. I agree. I think it's great. I think she just wants as much closeness as she can get because she misses me the week she's at her father's (she misses him too when she's with me) and since she is a girl I have no problem with it. If I had a son it might be different though. I would be afraid it would affect him negatively and I wouldn't want it. Her Dad does not let her sleep in his bed at his place which is best I think. I don't ask her to sleep in my bed - in fact I'm so used to sleeping on my own now I'm quite as happy to sleep on my own (plus I snore which my ex strongly objected to but my daughter doesn't mind!) but I do like the fact she asks me if she can and I know she really loves it and it comforts her. Because it's only at the weekends it's special. My doggy would happily sleep in my bed too if I let him but I keep him downstairs! Boundaries!

    Posted by Belle May 12, 12 06:58 AM
  1. Its wonderful that you have such a good relationship. In my teens my parents went though a messy divorce and after that I spent more nights in my moms room than mine, it just made each of us feel better. I'm now in my 30's and my mom and I still have a great relationship, we talk to each other on the phone all the time and we skype whenever we each get the chance (we live too far away to visit in person).

    Posted by Kali May 18, 12 07:34 AM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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