Short Rant: Kids’ Nighttime Needs

April 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm (Attachment Parenting)

Why is it acceptable for people to allow their dogs and cats to sleep with them but not their children?  It doesn’t make sense to me that parents would not only allow, but invite a dog to sleep in the family bed, but do everything in their power to keep their children out. Parents are warned that if they allow children to sleep in their bed, “they’ll never get them out.”  Really?  I can’t imagine an 18-year old still needing or even wanting to sleep in his parent’s bed.  But I can imagine that if a dog is allowed in bed, they’ll be the ones who’ll never leave! Dog lovers everywhere would argue that the dogs love it, and they personally enjoy the warm comfort of snuggling up with a dog.  Really?  A parent would do this for their dog instead of their child who might equally benefit from nighttime closeness?

I recently read a thread on a discussion board in which a mom was given all kinds of advice on how to put her son back to bed when he appears at her bedside at 3 am asking to come up.  The “solutions” she was given ranged from being kind & firm, to sneaky & deceitful, to downright punitive.  And I couldn’t help but ask, “why?”  One poster’s response included an example from her own family, stating that there was no room for their child in their bed because of the dog and 2 cats they slept with. So they had developed a “trick” to get the child back to her own bed at night.

Why is it socially acceptable to sleep with pets and not children, when children are the ones who have valid, complex emotional needs, including a sense of nighttime security?  There are (too) many families who I wish would treat their children more respectfully than they do their animals.

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