Ask Amy: Daughter takes mom's place in bed with Dad

FresnoOctober 11, 2013 

Dear Amy: About 10 months ago, I started sleeping in the guest room of my home because I am a super light sleeper and any little movements or sounds wake me constantly at night.

I was suffering from fatigue and depression and now my health has improved. My 10-year-old daughter has now moved in on my old spot next to my husband, and I find her asleep in bed with him every morning.

It was really cute and sweet at first seeing her cuddled up to him with his arm around her. Now she expects to sleep there, she brings her books in at night, and they read together.

Even though I know this is an innocent arrangement, I told my husband that she is too old now to sleep with him. He told her that last night was the last time and she now has to sleep in her own room. We told her we would rearrange her room however she wants to be comfortable.

Well, she cried, and dad caved in and told her she could sleep with him on weekends.

Amy, I don't think they should be sleeping together at all. I think others would view it as inappropriate, and I would also like my bed available for conjugal visits.

I am not sure how to handle this situation since my husband and daughter are not cooperating with me.

I am not going to give up my guest room because my health will suffer.

What do you think?

— Rested but concerned

Dear Rested:

The obvious answer is that if you want your daughter to stop sleeping in your marital bed, you will have to sleep there — at least at the beginning of the night (you could enjoy family story time together and then escort her to her room). Having two beds (or two separate mattresses) in the room might help you to stay with him and still get a decent night's sleep. Ear plugs work wonders (at least for me).

I think it's likely that your husband is resentful that you have left the marriage bed. His caving to a 10-year-old's demand is sending a little message to you — and he is using her natural and normal desire for closeness to punish you (just a little bit) for leaving.

You and he are not demonstrating optimal parenting because you are unwilling to try other solutions and you are (both) putting your daughter at the center of this marital issue. Do not blame your daughter. She is doing what kids do best — leaping into a noticeable void to have her own emotional needs met.


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