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Mom Sleeps with Kids

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: During our rocky relationship, my wife sometimes chooses to sleep with the kids so she doesn't feel so alone. This has grown into quite a habit. My children seem to be developing normally, but I fear this may cause damage further in life because they want to sleep with her every night. My children are ages 3, 5, and 10. What's the best way to help them?

A: This practice needs to stop immediately. Your wife shouldn't seek refuge from your marital problems by inviting your kids to sleep with and comfort her. Your children have learned to manipulate your wife's vulnerability so that they now want her to sleep with them all the time. Your wife is also making them "parent" her when she's lonely. They should never be placed in this role.

Surely your 10-year-old knows that the reason her mom sleeps with her and her siblings is due to your marital problems. My guess is that the 5-year-old has come to some understanding of this, as well. You and your wife are upsetting your kids and scaring them as a result of your unhealthy relationship with one another. Please see a therapist with your wife to help you both deal with your marriage and stop involving your kids indirectly in these problems. They deserve better.

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    Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


    Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.
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