Child Behavior Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

is it ok for a 12 year old boy to sleep with his mom

my girlfriend is a single mother of five children. The youngest of which is a 12 year old boy. she has been a single mom since he was a baby and has done a wonderful job raising all of the kids. Lately it has been a topic of discussion between us about her 12 year old boy wanting to sleep with her. When I am there and spend the night, he has no problem sleeping in his own bed, but when I am not there, he wants to sleep in bed with his mother. I have tried to tell her that it is not healthy for a 12 year old to be sleeping with his mother, but when i bring it up she gets angry and tells me that i am not a doctor and that there is nothing wrong with it. She says that he is just a very affectionet child and wants to feel close and loved. I have expressed my concerns about a 12 year old boy and how they start to develop sexually at that age. she says i am way off base and i should mind my own business. I know that this is not normal behavior, but it is something that should be a big concern. Should she wait until he outgrows it or make it stop immediately.
30 Responses
242606 tn?1243786248
It's not a good idea for a parent to be sleeping with a tweleve year old child (or with a child of any age, for that matter). The issue of development of early adolescence complicates the situation with a child of twelve, but even if it weren't for this the child's mother shouls stop this practice. He's clearly able to sleep in his own bed. It may be that his mother is satisfying her own need for companionship by this preactice. It is definitely not a good idea.
Avatar universal
This is the mom again.........my son goes to bed in his own bed...he wakes up at night and then will come in sometimes......it has gotten to be less and less and now nearly at all. Whatever his reasons were for wanting to be with me I feel he is working out. I never once have ever asked my son to sleep with me.  This is something he started when we moved in our house 4 years ago. As a mother of five I am not lacking companionship and look forward to my time at night by myself. I am also aware of boys and their arousal at a certain age and if and when that were the case I would certainly feel uncomfortable.  I am not sick or perverse.  
This is kind of a personal thing with me and my bf who is only here every other weekend and does not know what goes on here on a daily basis. Nor does he know any of my children the way that I do as I have spent all their lives with them.
  He also does not mention that his own son slept in a bed with him when he stayed over his house until he was 13.
I am comfortable in my decisions and have gotten other input as well.  The advice in this forum comes from a social worker,LICSW(Licensed, independent clinical social worker) and after finding that out I would not expect any other answer than his original reply.
A home of hugs and affection is nothing to be sorry for.  Nor is it disturbing in any way.  It is in the minds of people where that all starts.

Avatar universal
No one mentioned that you were sick or perverse.  I don't think it entered any one's mind who read any of the posts.  Disturbing is just what it sounds, it did not imply anything perverse.  Despite the fact that the advice comes from an LCSW, I don't think any professional at any level would agree with your reasoning.  Affection is a wonderful and critical part of any child's life- but an adolescent of the opposite sex sleeping with a parent is just not appropriate no matter what the particular logic behind it may be.
Avatar universal
This is that mom....i dont believe all information has been given by my bf.  He does not sleep with me every night......spends many nights away from home....and has never given me a hard time when he could not sleep with me (when my boyfriend stays here).  I have researched this topic and found much more info than was posted here.
I would also suggest that joemhappy post his question in this forum as he might recieve another opinion other than going to a place that satisfies the answer he was hoping to find.

I might add that joemhappy had approached the subject by calling it sick and perverse. And also, that maybe my son had psychological problems. Makes faces and sighs when my son comes and puts his head in my lap while we watch tv.
  More info....I have had to overcome my childrens father not being part of their lives for the past 10 years.  All my children are very affectionate and show it to the people they care about and know who care about them. I treat my children as individuals and not part of a group.  They all have certain needs and as a mother I will be there for them no matter what others may percieve our relationships to be.  

Please read the other information on the website above.....and not settle for the answer that is strictly black and white.  The response showed no factual information and even included a "but".
(and also cant spell very well)
Would love to hear more input on this.
242606 tn?1243786248
You are the parent and, ultimately, only you can make the decision. But it would be prudent for you to examine your behavior and to ask yourself: Is this necessary? Does it promote my son's development for me to be sleeping with him at his age? Is this a normal thing to be doing? It is our obligation to provide you with reasonable, responsible feedback, and it would be irresponsible for us to endorse your behavior.
Avatar universal

Curious as to whether you looked at any of the info on this site and perhaps might respond to its content. I am recieving alot of conflicting information,

Avatar universal
Maybe you (the mother) need the comfort or companionship. You have been given the highest opinion of a respected authority and still vehemently try to dispute.  I have to agree, this is disturbing.
Avatar universal
My 2 cents ... I don't feel that it is right to sleep through the night, together, on a regular basis at all.  Personally I would not be comfortable with it, but, speaking from experience, if you have a child that for whatever reasons, needs to be with you more than others to feel safe/loved or whatever the reason ... I don't think an occassional night in mom's bed here and there would kill them, and I do STRESS occassional.

HEre's what I do:  My 6 yr. old has some issues he's dealing with and some nights are really tough for him.  He has school the next day etc., so if at 11pm if he is still struggling - I let him lie down with me.  He ALWAYS goes right out once with me and then he is moved into his own room.  Most often he stays in there until morning.  Occassionally I do lead him back in the wee hours but most often, he is fine.

I assume the BF has no kids?  Do what you have to do to maintain peace in your home.  Just make sure that your son understands what's appropriate and what's not.
242606 tn?1243786248
The web address you cite is this Forum. I am the person who responds to the questions, and I must reiterate that your behavior is not sensible. The fact that you and your gentleman friend are having a conflict is beside the point. Hopefully you can resolve your differences. But, on the face of it, your behavior warrants concern. For the benefit of your son, take a careful look at what you are doing, try not to act in a defensive way, and make some changes by setting sensitive but firm limits.

Kevin D. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Avatar universal
I have a friend whose 11 year old (soon to be 12) son also sleeps with her.  He also sleeps with his grandmother that lives next door.  The problem becomes more difficult to change whenever others involved do not view it as a problem.  This mother recognizes that it is a problem but her own mother reinforces his behavior by telling her that he is simply afraid of sleeping by himself.  Let me state that I am a former investigator of child abuse/neglect.  I explained to her that had I come across a situation such as this it would have warranted action.  It is NOT healthy, or appropriate for a child of 12 years to still be sleeping in the bed with ANY adult and especially one of the opposite sex.  My friend is aware of this and has tried numerous times to stop his behavior only to be scolded by her own mother for not allowing this to continue.  My advise to her was to not allow him to sleep at his grandmothers house (more importantly - her bed)until this behavior changes.  There is a real concern here for inappropriate touching at this age given the accessibility.  I am sure if (when) this child touches his grandparent then it will be a wake-up call that it is time to remove this child from her bed.
Avatar universal
Why does anyone on this forum dr or otherwise feel it prudent to advise an obviously loving, caring, aware, attentive, providing PARENT when it is time for HER son to sleep in his own bed (which he obviously does and most likely will NOT be doing much longer of his own accord)???

I don't care what the "authorities" say a parent needs to do what they feel is best for their children. Each child is an individual and needs to be treated as such.

It wasn't the mom who came here for support or help it was the BF (who seems slightly jealous of his GF's attention and tenderness towards her son).

There is more to this situation than meets the eye. Before judging I wonder how many here have an affectionate 12 year old son.

My FIL passed away 2 years ago and many of the brothers and sisters innocently slept together in the same bed (the children still at home ranged in age from 19 to 10). It helped them feel secure and safe.

This little boy (yes LITTLE BOY...he's 12 not 18!!) has been raised without a father in his life. For now he's "Momma's boy"; he will eventually grow to be a man and in that process grow out of sleeping in his mother's bed.

What exactly is it that is potentially "harmful" about this situation or not "sensible"?

The dr also mentioned that children of "any age" shouldn't sleep in their parent's bed...he has expressed his opinion and that is all. He has no scientific basis to back up his claims.

SCparent, I am AGHAST that you would investigate a parent for the sole reason that they sleep in the same bed as a minor child! Do you live in America?? Do you seriously believe that every parent that sleeps with their minor child is suspect of ABUSE/NEGLECT?? There are REAL issues of abuse and neglect to be investigated. I live in a state where seriously abused and neglected children are returned to homes because their parents completed a "rehabilitation" program...guess where those children are a year later...back into foster care and 10 years later they're in therapy...or jail. Makes me ill...

I realize there are very real situations of abuse but where do the government and medical professionals draw the line? Investigating abuse where there is none can be as traumatizing for children as actually being abused (I've seen it happen).

This mom obviously wants what is best for her son. I respect her for not bowing to the "professionals". I believe she is in tune with her son's needs. The closeness they share will last a lifetime.

I'm amazed that many here have accused her of sleeping with her son to fulfill her unmet need for companionship and comfort. Honestly, is it wrong to enjoy the companionship of your kids whether during the day or otherwise. Is that "harmful" and "insensible"?

How many parents here can truly say they have never gone into their teenager's room at night, looked down at their sleeping face and wished that they could pick that child up and rock them in their arms like they used to? How many parents can say they don't long for the days when they used to hold their child's hand, lay with them when they were sick, a time when they were the center of their child's world. What kind of a parent doesn't look back and cherish those days or in the midst of it wish it could stretch out a little longer.

This woman's child is still just a little boy.  


P.S. I think it's the rest of us that need to get our minds out of the gutter and see the innocence of the situation.

Avatar universal
i just run into this site researching another topic, but found it imperativ to write another point of view.
i am very concerned about the person HVMA responding in an 'official' manner  with a PH D( in psychology?!)
i was very saddened  reading  HVMA response which is not only very damaging, but opinionated, strongly biased by his personal view of the world and not at least educational. from any   counselor i request a respectful, helpful and sensible answer and not a sledge hammer or a moralizing finger pointing. also, if i may point out your opinion is sooo in the minority if you take a look at the world population where at least most moms (often dads too! sleep closely together, sharing the same blanket to keep warm, snuggled up for closeness and comfort etc.
the US is probably one of the counties with the highest perctage of people with sexuality problems......steeming certainly not from family co-sleeping.

my comment to Mskattykat: while it may not always be appropriate to sleep in the same bed with a teenager i like to point out that there is a very strong movement in the us on co-sleeping, which is so very normal amongst the mayority of the world popolation.
you can research co-cleeping on the web, mothering magazine has articles in their archive on this issue as well. trust your instincts and educate yourself from people from different walks of life.
by the way - your situation, as much as anyone could say from what you wrote sounded very healthy to me. keep trusting your instincts and share such issues with other wise women and other self-empowering people ..... warm greetins and best of luck.
Popular Resources
Fearing autism, many parents aren't vaccinating their kids. Can doctors reverse this dangerous trend?
Is a gluten-free diet right for you?
We answer your top questions about the flu vaccine.
Learn which over-the-counter medicines are safe for you and your baby
Yummy eats that will keep your child healthy and happy
Healing home remedies for common ailments