Eight year old still sleeps in her dad's bed

(14 Posts)
bringingupthebaby Fri 06-Sep-13 10:16:44

Hi everyone

I would like to ask for opinion and advice on an issue that has been going on for a while. My husband and I divorced when our daughter was three, and ever since then she's slept in his bed when she's with him. This occurs to a lesser extent now, not only because he's older but also because he has a new partner and son who live with them. However, it's still happening enough, for example, this week in the middle of the night she woke him up and got into bed with him and from what my daughter says my husband's partner got up and slept elsewhere.

I'm not for one minute suspecting or suggesting that there's anything untoward going on but my daughter is very clingy, attention seeks and we have particular problems around bedtime. I have asked my ex husband for help repeatedly in this area but he says that he's doing things gradually and in a way that is right for our daughter.

The reality is that our daughter can be a little madam and I believe that we both need to be a bit tougher especially on the basics of going to bed and staying in her own bed - at eight I feel that she should be doing that consistently. Her confidence is another issue - trying to encourage her to push through the fear boundary to do something new is exhausting and she frequently feels anxious about things. I think a lot of this is to do with the fact that she's not being encouraged to be independent. I work really hard on trying to get her to focus on the outcome - i.e. imagine yourself coming out of school and running up to me and telling me what a fun day you've had, and it works, and then it all seems to come undone again when she's been to her dad.

I am really struggling because I am finding it increasingly hard to keep my patience when she loses it over doing something new or fights me about going to bed and I just really feel a lack of support from my ex.

He's quite indignant about it and really doesn't want to have to engage with me at all and I'm sure that his behaviour towards our daughter is about him rather than her, if that makes sense.

Does anyone have any thoughts or advice about an eight year old girl sleeping in her father's bed in terms? Am I right to think this could be affecting her confidence building? How do I tackle it - or do I need to tackle it? Any thoughts, gratefully received.

ViviDeBeauvoir Fri 06-Sep-13 10:28:17

Honestly? I don't think it's an issue as long as he and his partner are ok with it.
From your post it sounds like she starts off in her own bed and goes in during the night - she probably needs the security while she's there.
I actually think that the problems you are experiencing are probably not linked to the fact he lets her come into his bed. She can probably pick up on the disagreements between you and your ex though and it could be causing her some anxiety, which could contribute to her clinginess.
I would let him parent her as he sees fit while she's there and you stick to your rules at home. DC are smart enough to know that different rules apply in different places and she's probably just pushing her luck with you!
(I mean this in the nicest possible way - my ex parents in a way that is completely at odds with my parenting style and it's really tough, especially as you feel that you're the one doing all the hard graft/dealing with all the shit bits but my DC are a lot happier if I bite my tongue and let him get on with it)

SPBisResisting Fri 06-Sep-13 10:33:59

Agree with vivi. I really think it's good for her to know that when she goes to her dad's house , where he has a new partner and child, she is still his priority when it matters.
When im not here dh often says the chikdren came into his bed for a cuddle. What he means is they got ip too early for him so the 'cuddle' allows him to have another half hour's kip

I can understand the annoyance but I'm going to join the others and say it isn't a big deal-
Ds slept with me til he was about four - then i kicked him out but he carried on sleeping with his dad til he was about nine! I don't know how the girlfriend tolerated it!

Now he is a normal Independent teen who won't get out his own bed ;)

bringingupthebaby Fri 06-Sep-13 11:25:22

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your honesty. I am struggling with things on my own and I do feel it's unfair that I'm the bad parent and he's the good guy.

My little one has become more clingy with me recently, particularly around my partner. It's not a new relationship but I think she feels like she's missing out on stuff and gets quite upset when I'm doing things without her with him, like staying at his house which I do every other weekend (when she's with her dad), but she's very much a part of our lives when we're altogether. Any thoughts on how to manage this?

And while I want her to feel like the centre of my universe - which she is - if her dad is treating her like top dog when she's there, i.e. the girlfriend gets booted out of bed when she hops in, is that really good for her development? Life isn't like that.

As Thisisaeuphemism says though, it probably won't be long before she's refusing to get out of her bed at all. But I do just want to make sure that she's being parented in a way that helps her develop rather than molly coddles her against the big bad world. I know my ex was parented differently to me and probably was more molly coddled himself - I know he slept in with his parents for years!

Thanks again.

SPBisResisting Fri 06-Sep-13 11:28:23

Yes you are probably rivht. Esp if it reinforces the "him good guy, you bad guy" thing he's creating

I can see my two being in with me at that age. DD1 is 5 and has no intention of moving to her own room. It's more likely to drive the adults crazy than cause any harm to the child!

tywysogesgymraeg Fri 06-Sep-13 11:32:49

Surely at 8 she is old enough to understand that "your house, your rules", "Dad's house, Dad's rules"?

There must be some stuff her Dad does that she doesn't like, and that you don't do.

TwoStepsBeyond Fri 06-Sep-13 11:45:38

I would leave that particular discussion to your ex's GF, as I'm sure from bitter experience that she won't be particularly happy with this situation if it carries on.

Your ex's relationship with his GF will suffer if he continues to play Disney dad and let your DD rule the roost when she is with him (especially if GF has her own DCs), so just wait it out and continue to do what you are doing to boost your DD's confidence when she's with you.

Sometimes being the 'strict/boring/sensible' parent is ok, kids know where they are with discipline and rules, so don't feel bad that you're the one pushing her - you're also the one who'll feel the most pride when she does accomplish something new and she will know that.

TVTonight Fri 06-Sep-13 12:07:46

Is it possible that he is actually correct and taking your daughters fears/personality into account when choosing how to best respond to bedtime clingyness?

From what you've written about your daughter I can understand why other parents would respond in a very different way to you with the same aim of fostering independence.

TVTonight Fri 06-Sep-13 12:08:35

And maybe he values his relationship with his daughter ahead of that with his partner?

bringingupthebaby Fri 06-Sep-13 12:21:28

Hi TVTonight - I can understand what you're saying and you're right that my daughter is the sensitive kind so can't just be forced to do something. However, surely being seen to value one over the other will ultimately lead to problems.

My daughter is my priority, but I don't think it's healthy her her to think that she will always be top dog. She will try to rule the roost and unfortunately ends up with a short, sharp shrift from me, which makes me feel pants when she's then off to her dad's for the weekend, but she does push the boundaries.

In my ex's house, there are four of them - two adults and two kids so the attention seeking behaviour is diffused to some extent, but in my house, it is just me so it's full on and really hard work and increases when she's having to share me with other people - my partner, my parents or sister, friends, etc. So there's a balancing act I need to achieve between managing her sensitive side and encouraging her to be more independent and not so focused on me, which is what I really need my ex to help me with and this is where I have always asked for him to support me with a consistent bedtime routine - as a very basic starting point to encouraging independence and development.

Thanks again everyone for your comments - it's really helpful and I feel I have some less emotionally-driven ideas I can discuss with my ex.

Iamcountingto3 Fri 06-Sep-13 12:33:15

I think there are two issues here:
1. Is it OK for your 8yo to still sometimes sleep in her dad's bed/will it undermine her confidence
2. Ensuring you co-parent effectively

As someone who's 7yo still occasionally crawls into bed, I wouldn't worry about the former - my dd is terrifyingly confident, and hasn't yet met a fear barrier that I'm aware of!

I agree with others that I would make this one of those things that is different in different houses - she's old enough to understand that. Although of course, tough when your rules are the ones she'll like less smile If your dh slept with his parents quite late too, he's unlikely to unbend on this one (esp with his partner accepting it too!)

I've had some fab advice on here ito helping my underconfident/anxious ds (who has never slept in our bed ;-) - have you tried posting for some help with that issue more generally?

bringingupthebaby Fri 06-Sep-13 12:36:53

Thanks Iamcountingto3 - that's really helpful. :-)

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