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Co-Sleeping: At What Age Is it Inappropriate?


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When I first met my boyfriend, he lived at home with his dad. My boyfriend's niece was 7 at the time we met. She frequently slept over at their house and would sleep in the same bed as my boyfriend. I found it strange, especially since he sleeps in his underwear. Well, it's 2.5 years later and we now live together. Our niece sleeps over pretty frequently. At first, she asked to sleep in bed with us. It never happened, although she would sleep below our bed on the floor. Typically, she now sleeps on the couch. I went out of town for the weekend to visit some family and my boyfriend stayed home. Our niece slept over. When I got home, I asked him if he had found the extra blankets that I put out for her. He said "Uhhh, I just let her sleep in the bed." This child is now 10 years old. She is beginning to physically mature. I'm not concerned in a child services type of way, as I know that my boyfriend loves that child and would never in a million years hurt her. I just feel that it is inappropriate for a grown man to sleep in the same bed as his maturing 10-year old niece, in his underwear. In addition, she still doesn't care if she is naked in front of him. She will take a bath at our house and then walk downstairs butt naked because she "doesn't want to get dressed alone". I am very close to her, but she is technically his family so I don't want to necessarily tell anyone what to do. I do feel uncomfortable by it though. I feel even more uncomfortable by it because it happened when I was out of town. How do I discuss this boundary with both of them? What age do you feel that co sleeping is inappropriate?

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16 minutes ago, j596496 said:

I just feel that it is inappropriate for a grown man to sleep in the same bed as his maturing 10-year old niece, in his underwear.

Where are her parents in all this? Why do they allow her to sleep with her funny uncle? You should be concerned, you just don't want to be because you're living  together.

 You keep saying "our niece", but who is she? His sister's or bother's child. You need to stop the sleep overs immediately. It's beyond creepy. 

You don't have to report him to CPS but you need to get your head out of the sand about how  creepy this is.

Although you already seem to know all this but are desperate to hang on to this guy. It's his house? Move out.

Call the child's mother. Her parents should be the ones protecting her from this. You however should at least step up and stop the sleep overs.

Edited by Wiseman2
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35 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Where are her parents in all this? Why do they allow her to sleep with her funny uncle? You should be concerned, you just don't want to be because you're living  together.

 You keep saying "our niece", but who is she? His sister's or bother's child. You need to stop the sleep overs immediately. It's beyond creepy. 

You don't have to report him to CPS but you need to get your head out of the sand about how  creepy this is.

Although you already seem to know all this but are desperate to hang on to this guy. It's his house? Move out.

Call the child's mother. Her parents should be the ones protecting her from this. You however should at least step up and stop the sleep overs.

I never said that my boyfriend was "creepy" and I never said that I wanted to leave him. We have a house together and we are very happy. They are close because she is the product of his sister's teenage pregnancy and they all lived in the same house when she was younger, and the home was very small. He has never harmed her. She thinks of him as a father figure, as he has basically helped to raise her. It's more so just breaking that boundary. 

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This is highly inappropriate. An adult has no business sharing a bed with a preteen unless they are parent and child.

Why are her parents allowing this? Or do they not know?

And it must be concerning you since you wrote this:

" I do feel uncomfortable by it though. I feel even more uncomfortable by it because it happened when I was out of town. "

Even though your private thoughts feel icky you do seem to have some serious concerns. And rightfully so.

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10 years old? There is something seriously off here with both of them. There is absolutely nothing normal about a 10 year old wanting to share the bed with adults and needing to walk around naked and not being able to get dressed without help. Equally there is something really really messed up with a grown man being comfortable sleeping with a 10 year old in the same bed.

A child having a bad nightmare and coming seeking comfort can happen, but we are talking rare situation here.

There is literally nothing normal about this entire situation you are describing. 

 

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Most kids, by age 9, get really private with their bodies and start closing the bathroom door to shower, etc. So yes, she's out of the norm in that area.

You live in your home, so you have the right to speak about boundaries you want established, and if it's a reasonable request, it should be honored. If not, then you're with someone who doesn't care how you feel. 

I'd tell him that for the psychological interest of the child, that everyone will be clothed in pajamas when she visits, and that she can no longer sleep in the adult bed. If he won't speak to her about rules, then you as the other adult in the home can tell her, "In our house, we always need to be wearing clothes before leaving the bathroom after a bath. With practice, you can learn to be comfortable getting dressed on your own." Make sure she brings all her clothes into the bathroom. You can say, "I'm shutting the door for your privacy." It's good to start using those sorts of words and letting kids know their rights.

Her mother has left her in the care of your home, and you're allowed to set reasonable house rules.

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1 hour ago, doglover24 said:

We have a house together and we are very happy. They are close because....

You know it's creepy. That's why you're asking

Edited by Wiseman2
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There is something desperately wrong with a 10 year old parading around naked and can’t dress themselves without others . I have daycare kids that can dress themselves at 3 or less and four year olds that slam the bathroom door and want privacy. 

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18 minutes ago, Seraphim said:

There is something desperately wrong with a 10 year old parading around naked and can’t dress themselves without others . I have daycare kids that can dress themselves at 3 or less and four year olds that slam the bathroom door and want privacy. 

Exactly my thoughts. Children quite intuitively start drawing privacy boundaries at a pretty early age.

Either this girl is severely developmentally behind or mentally disordered, in which case it's on the adults to draw healthy boundaries and to teach her including getting professional help with that. OR her behavior is the result of years of being molested and normalizing that behavior, aka trauma response.

Something is causing her abnormal behavior and the million dollar question is what that might be.

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57 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

Either this girl is severely developmentally behind or mentally disordered, in which case it's on the adults to draw healthy boundaries and to teach her including getting professional help with that. OR her behavior is the result of years of being molested and normalizing that behavior, aka trauma response.

Agree. Turning a blind eye to pretend you found Mr. right is an unfortunately common practice. She shouldn't be having slumber parties with her uncle. Even that is weird. 

Edited by Wiseman2
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2 hours ago, doglover24 said:

I know that my boyfriend loves that child and would never in a million years hurt her. I just feel that it is inappropriate for a grown man to sleep in the same bed as his maturing 10-year old niece, in his underwear. In addition, she still doesn't care if she is naked in front of him. She will take a bath at our house and then walk downstairs butt naked because she "doesn't want to get dressed alone".

Fact is, when you're not around, you really have no idea what goes on behind closed doors in that house. No idea.  Obviously we all would never in a million years believe someone we know well can do highly inappropriate things to children (really is abuse), but it is way more common than we can ever imagine.  Don't for one second think it's not possible.

That said, you need to tell him your thoughts, tell him it is not appropriate etc. You know this is creepy and on many levels, just wrong.  Please read Andrina's post above - great advice there.

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Let me say this, I was molested by my father’s brother in my own home with my father IN THE SAME HOUSE. He never knew a thing. 
 

Molesters don’t advertise and seem like nice people. 
 

The girl is NOT exhibiting normal behaviour but the behaviour of somebody who has been molested. 

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Yes -something off about this for sure.  My son is 12.  He slept in my bed the other night because of horrible scary storms.  We have a huge bed and he is our son - so that's fine- but if he wasn't my son, no way, not ever and not a ten year old either.  If I were faced with that situation - like if he had a sleepover with a friend who then wanted to sleep "with me" because of some fear or something what I would do -and to me the only appropriate thing to do -is to sleep in the same room but separately- like on a separate mattress on the floor.  But not as anything regular ever.  He is not the parent and my sense is that there are some confusing messages going on here even if nothing has actually happened.  Yet. He is the adult and should have told her a long time ago that sharing a bed was not ok.

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46 minutes ago, Capricorn3 said:

Fact is, when you're not around, you really have no idea what goes on behind closed doors in that house. No idea.  Obviously we all would never in a million years believe someone we know well can do highly inappropriate things to children (really is abuse), but it is way more common than we can ever imagine.  Don't for one second think it's not possible.

That said, you need to tell him your thoughts, tell him it is not appropriate etc. You know this is creepy and on many levels, just wrong.  Please read Andrina's post above - great advice there.

Agree, normalizing this as "co-sleeping" is disconcerting and indicates denial.

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This sounds sooo familiar.  Didn't you write about this some months back or does another poster have the same issue?  This is inappropriate.  Its not an occasional camping trip where everyone sleeps together.  She clearly has some attachment issues.  And its crazy he doesn't see this as a problem. When a little 2 year old crawls into your bed because they are scared is different than what is going on here.   Honestly, its WAY inappropriate. If she is 9.5, some girls start getting their first periods between 10-12.  Sleeping with a grown man who only wears his undies is just not good for her.   

BTW< you knew this was going on all along. Why didn't you say something before or set a boundary for yourself before this?

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OK - if she is walking around nude at this age -- sound the alarm bells if the whole family aren't nudist.  I would be mortified if anyone saw me naked - even my own mother who birthed me at that age where my body was starting to change.  Where is her mother???  She needs to address this.  Because she is walking around naked and "doesn't want to dress alone" i wonder if she has been molested at some point - i am not saying your boyfriend did it -- but someone did.  Unless she has the mentality of a 4 year old - a more common age to not be phased about their own undressing and tossing their clothes around the house than a 10 year old -- this is not normal.

 

At minumum i would put a towel around her and say "okay, i will come with you if you are scared" and TELL HER MOTHER not to tattle but "i am concerned. when i was that age i would not want to be walking around naked in front of men...i am worried about her." 

Edited by abitbroken
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Doesn't want to get dressed alone?  Walking around naked!  Good God, what type of house is she being raised in?

I think that your bf has a serious lack of boundaries by allowing her to sleep in his bed.  Very weird. Also, I don't even know what to say about him sleeping in his underwear with her.  No words.  How do you know that he hasn't done something to her?

All of this is so inappropriate and I have to question your judgement in a partner.  He sounds creepy.

Edited by Hollyj
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Confused - is there no where else for her to sleep? How big is this bed?  Is he is boxers and a T-shirt, or just boxer briefs? What is she wearing? When you ask her or him whey they sleep in the same bed together, what does she or he say?

When I was 9, I slept on my folk's floor for 6 months straight because I was terrified after watching Cat's Eyes, the movie about this troll that would come through from the walls, and steal your breath to kill you. HORRIFIED.  My kid is nine, and still wants dad to stay after reading while he falls asleep with the lights on and the door open. And both my kids still need to turn the hallway light on because they are afraid of ghosts.  

I would ask them first.  Cuz when I look at my nieces and nephews or my kids, I don't think of them as sexual beings. They're like my flesh and blood.  Like, hey, "I think it's time you tried to sleep on your own, because you're a big girl now." I mean at 10, I still was afraid to keep my head out from the covers because I thought aliens were watching me through the windows, so there's that.  I also suffered from sleep paralysis, but never had folks that tucked me in, so just endless nightmares on my own.

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I agree that this is not anywhere close to the realm of “okay”.

In fact, it’s so not okay that I would probably call my social worker friends and get some advice about what I can do to help the girl. And I’d never look at the boyfriend or his sibling the same again.

Shes 10. Think of how this nonchalant attitude will evolve into her teen years...omg.

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All you need to do is google "signs of child molestation" to get your head out of the sand about your creepy BF.

These warning signs are not always obvious. But there may be cause for concern about the behaviour of an adult if they:

Refuse to allow a child enough privacy or to make their own decisions about personal matters

Insist on physical affection, such as kissing, hugging, wrestling or tickling even when the child does not want it

Insist on time alone with a child, with no interruptions

Regularly offer to babysit children for free or take children on overnight outings alone

Buy children expensive gifts or give them money for no apparent reason

Frequently walk in on children or teenagers in the bathroom

Treat a particular child as a favourite, making them feel ‘special’ compared with others in the family

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14 hours ago, abitbroken said:

This sounds sooo familiar.  Didn't you write about this some months back or does another poster have the same issue? 

I remember that, too.

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I was sexually abused for nearly 10 years because no one bothered paying attention to the signs or they willfully ignored them for their own purposes.

I can't say for sure this young child is being abused or by whom. But there are some concerning behaviors here.

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