As the Grandma Sandwich, This Grandma Rethinks “The Family Bed”

Family BedWhen this Grandma was raising children, the marital bed belonged to the husband and wife.  The children spent time in the marital bed when they were ill or some weekend mornings, but “the family bed” was an unknown concept to this family. . . .

. . . .until the parents of our grandchildren became parents.  I always blame new trends on the movie stars, our royalty.  I believe “the family bed’ became popular with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt sleeping with all of their children.  I think I heard they had a gigantic bed made to accommodate all of the children.  I do not know if this is true or not, but I cannot imagine all those kicking legs at one time and a parent getting any sleep.

Grandpa and I tried to figure out this “family bed” concept.  We couldn’t.  When we were raising children, we would go into our children’s bed to help them fall asleep.  We would read them bedtime stories in their bed.  If they needed us in the middle of the night, we joined them in their bed.  It worked for us.  Our children survived.  Now, when we visit our grandchildren, we mostly find them in their parents’ beds.

The grandchildren are watching television in their parents’ beds in the evenings and the mornings in both households.  But more than that, the younger two grandchildren, from birth, slept mostly with their parents.  Even now, they fall asleep in their parents’ bed.  The older of the two is then taken to his bed to finish the night’s sleep, but tends to return before dawn to fall back to sleep in his parents’ bed until time to rise.

I did research on the internet of course.  I found that the “experts” find that it does not make a difference either way in child development whether or not they sleep in a family bed.  The children are fine either way.  They eventually will sleep in their own bed.

However, after the most recent visits with grandchildren, I am rethinking my original negative thoughts about the family bed.

On vacation, the grandchildren cuddled with us in our king size bed whenever we were in the hotel room, playing on their electronics or watching television or just talking.  We love having the grandchildren in our bed.  None of them slept in our bed, but they do like sleeping in our room.  When they nap, sometimes we nap with them in our bed.  If this is an unintended consequence of the family bed concept, this Grandma is all for it.

When we visit our older grandchildren, one or the other is falling asleep in our arms in our bed.  That closeness, too, is so precious and enjoyable for this Grandma.  When we visit our younger grandchildren, they too are quick to jump in our bed.  The youngest, age three, tends to throw open our door at the first sign of daylight, and yells, “surprise” and jumps in our bed to cuddle with us. . . .excuse me, with our I pad!  That gives us an extra minute or two of sleep until he wants us to watch him play.

This Grandma just returned from watching the younger grandchildren.  Their mother leaves for work before dawn and gets me to go into her bed to take her place with the three year old.  He has to sleep touching her, and since their father was out of town, I was the person to lay against him.  It was surprising how quickly I fell back to sleep with that delicious small body touching mine.  Just a few moments later, I felt the older grandchild join us and lean against me on the other side.  I soon became the grandma sandwich and was in grandma heaven . . . .until the body heat warmed me up.  Of course, I could not move and wake them, so I just lay looking at my precious grandchildren until the first sign of daylight, when the youngest jumped up and said, “surprise.”  At least I know he does that with his parents too.

The grandchildren and I talked about sleeping with their parents and why they liked it.  Then, I realized the true benefit to the family bed.  This is an era when children having their own rooms is considered preferable, single dorm rooms are most requested, and adults are enjoying living alone. . . and sleeping alone.  These grandchildren prefer a body next to them in a bed.  All the grandchildren like having company watching television or spending time in bed with someone they love.  Aha! In this Grandma’s opinion, I am more likely than not to become a great grandmother some day!  I think all the grandchildren will want a mate to share their bed having good memories of sharing a bed with their parents.

Yes, I am rethinking my original negative thoughts about “the family bed.”  This concept has merit for this Grandma.  After all, we eventually learn as parents that it really does not matter much what our philosophy is as parents.  The children survive us and our parenting philosophy. . . .and parenting mistakes.  If we give them love, security, boundaries, and support they will be fine.  As parents, we over think all of our actions.  As grandparents, we want to parents not to repeat our mistakes, but we too learn that we cannot do so, and should just hold our tongues.  Different is not better or worse.  Different also can bring

 

Joy,

Mema

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