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Avatar universal

When should a girl stop sleeping in her dad's bed?

I started dating a guy about seven months ago.  It took him about two and a half months, until he introduced me to his daughter.  He and I fell in love pretty quickly and spent a lot of time together before the introduction.  He felt confident in a future with me before allowing us to meet.  

He has custody 50% of the time as he and his wife split seven years ago.  She is 13 and a half years old.  Her mother is not maternal at all and never has been.  The daughter has commented to me that she rarely even looks at her.  My boyfriend is a very sensitive and loving man and feels he needs to compensate with love that she doesn't get from her mother.  They are very close and the daughter is respectful and communicative with him.  Here's the thing.  He had a horrendous childhood with no parents (both heavy drug users) and I believe he has codependency and abandonment issues to start.  His wife cheated on him and was abusive to him.  His daughter is really the only loving relationship he's ever had and that is why they are so close.  He's a wonderful parent but here's the rub.  As I said he has custody 50% of the time.  I don't stay over for about half of those nights so that they can have some time together.  She is an only child and she has her good friends and sleeps over at their houses almost every weekend.  When she's home and I'm not there she sleeps in his bed with him.  It's a queen size bed and they both like to sleep with the tv on.  I have asked him about this as it bothers me and he said that she gets scared in her room as her mom is super paranoid and has drilled fears into her about rape and robbers.  She has her own room and her own bed.  When I ask him about it he gets a bit defensive and says she falls asleep doing homework or they will be watching a movie and she falls asleep there.  It still bothers me.  She started menstruating when she was 11 and she has quite large breasts at 13. She is boy crazy and wears makeup, tight clothes etc. typical teenage stuff.    

I don't have kids and have never slept in my parents bed with them (divorced) so this is wigging me out.  I am now extra edgy when I go over there and I look for clues to see if she's slept in his bed the night before when I wasn't there.  A few nights ago I hadn't slept over there and when I went in his room one of her pink bras was under the night stand on my side.  I asked him about it and he said it must have fallen out of her gym bag.  He then got angry at me for making it creepy when it's not and it's very innocent.

What's the appropriate age out there?  Am I out of line feeling disturbed by this?  I know she absolutely adores her dad and still calls him daddy, dibby etc.  She is obviously developmentally stunted when it comes to him which I don't care about but the sleeping together wigs me out.  I need to know if I should get out of this relationship because I feel like it's already driving a wedge and I don't know if it's just me or not.
9 Responses
973741 tn?1342342773
Tough one.  I think parents have a right and 'should' make their own decisions regarding how they raise their children.  If you think this is sexual, well . . .  then he is hardly boyfriend material, right?  I can tell you as a parent that I could sleep with my kids at any age and it would not be sexual.  They could never be sexual to me in that way.  I'm affectionate, can kiss, hug, cuddle with them and it's just motherly love and kid love for mom.  Kind of a beautiful thing, really. Only when it is an outside person that maybe sees this older child (and to your boyfriend, she'll be 25 and still his 'child') as another woman and judge the father/daughter bond with that in mind.  

Try not to do that.  

Now, would I love this in a man I'm dating?  No.  But the reaility is, this is his child and she DOES really REALLY need him him at this stage in life.  Especially since her mom is a jerk.  If it is hard for you to understand and you find yourself wanting to judge them or throw a monkey wrench into things in their parent/child world--  I'd move on and find a more compatible partner.  

We date to find someone we can be with long term.  His priority now and for several years to come is his daughter.  And if you don't care for their interaction or it grosses you out, then you must just let them be and move on.  Unless you think it is truly sexual and then you need to call child protective services for his daughter and the police to arrest HIM.  

Hard situation---  hard to date someone with kids in general but that adolescent period in which they are still kids but growing up is vulnerable and difficult in the best of situations.  And this isn't the best situation.  good luck
So there's tons of info you can find related to the topic and i included one that I found above.

I also thought about what happens if you and he did get together ? then the girl will hate you for taking her spot in your marital bed. No good can come of his continuing this behavior with his daughter.

I think you could probably find so many authors that are doctors giving reasons why this is unhealthy. You might put it all together for him.

I reason why i thought it would be good to go to a therapist, is so that there would be one on hand, that knew of his case, and therefore making it easier for him to talk to a therapist, as well as giving you certain closure, however, even without a therapist, there is compelling logical arguments against having his daughter in his bed.

He could also go into her room and watch a movie with her before she falls asleep, at least this way she'd fall asleep in her own bed.

Hope this helps. I wish you all the best, and please remember,  there IS a man out there, should this not work out, that will not have you feeling icky. about their parenting styles.

Please come back and let us know how it's going?
(this comment was supposed to go as the last comment , not the first) btw.
3060903 tn?1398565123
I think that it does bother you that the child appears developmentally stunted, and i think you should. The boyfriend needs to realize that he cannot compensate his own longing for his own lost childhood, by "stunting" his own child's development. It's really a question of being able to look at behavior logically. testing your theory, as you are doing here and presenting your ideas to him for him to either try to understand and comprehend, or object to. A 13 and a half year old female child runs the risk of being over dependent (wanting to sleep overnight with) the first boy/man to enter into her life as a boyfriend. Your boyfriend is inadvertently setting his girl up to be dependent on men's constant attention, especially at night, and that is not teaching her what she needs to know and be accustom to as she get's a little older.

I think if it were me, i would talk to a therapist, and see what it is that a therapist would make of this situation. If it is as i've described, you'd be doing your boyfriend a solid to carefully and calmly discuss your findings with him and leave it in his care to with as he wishes. If, after you discuss it with a therapist, and if you find that their findings is that it is an unhealthy behavior to continue, (for the girl's sake) and he refuses to change his practices, i would break up with him, while letting him know that you will not be privy to behavior that harms a child, or with a man that would willfully do so.

I would seek the therapeutic advice quietly, maybe more than one opinion.

This would take a bit of work on your part, but hopefully you will do this, for your boyfriend in order to make the outcome as peaceful a transition for both of these people that are in your life. I think it would be angelic of you to care enough to go to these lengths.

I think that a couple of appointments to find out a therapeutic opinion, would also help you to move on , should that be the case after finding collaborating advice from a couple of therapists.

God bless you for caring, and for sharing.

3060903 tn?1398565123
When a parent allows this child to sleep through the night with them, they may believe they are solving the problem by offering a comforting presence. In the long run, the child may pay by becoming overly dependent on the parent and have greater difficulty in adjusting to any kind of change.

3060903 tn?1398565123
In a healthy family, children learn over time to respect the bonds of intimacy that can only be shared by a husband and wife. When this occurs they are able to develop age appropriate and diversified ways of gaining affection and validation. The child also acquires the ability to self-soothe, and this skill can only develop when parents are artful about when to move in and give comfort and when to allow their child needed space.

3060903 tn?1398565123
Eventually the time may come when a divorced parent finds another adult to share his/her bed. How does one dislodge a son or daughter when this happens, without making them feel displaced, unwanted and jealous? Another dilemma has been created making the challenge to adjust to a new person in their lives, all the more difficult for everyone.

So what do you do when your child comes to you in the middle of the night, or refuses to go to bed in his/her own room? Of course, your youngster is seeking warmth and reassurance, and needs it at that moment. I suggest getting up and going with the child back into his room. Tuck your child in, talk softly and offer words of comfort. Read a favorite story and retrieve a favorite, cuddly stuffed toy to hold. You can lie on the bed next to your child, offering the comfort of your physical closeness and nurturing touch. Encourage your child to think positively and about things he/she can do and think of that will lead to the child feeling empowered. You can promise that you will stay until your child falls back to sleep and when this happens, return to your own bed. Repeat this routine as needed. Your child will learn that her room is her own special and safe place in both households. She'll develop a sense that she can take care of herself and that she is growing up strong.

And when the morning comes and you hear the pat-a-pat of little feet running to greet you, by all means, open up your arms and snuggle right up to that precious little one of yours. He made it through the night all by himself---and so did you!

David Britton specializes in helping parents reclaim their bed.

3060903 tn?1398565123
Also, you've said that the girl's mother is not attentive to her daughter, and has set her up with feelings of fear that are "stunting" her growth. It would be prudent for the father to not only understand how his parenting choices affect his girl, but he also needs to step in and have his daughter talk to a child's therapist about her relationship (or lack thereof) with her mother. This would be the best scenario for all involved.

You know, co-dependent relationships are very common. Your boyfriend is trying to compensate for his ex wife's inability to parent, rather than actually address the issue that his daughter if having with her mother. It's commonplace to not talk about a problem, but try to make up for it by over compensating in other ways. The problem is that, not only can you make the mistake of overcompensating in the wrong way, but also, the lack of bonding with the girl and her mother is still a "no talk" zone, and as such, will never be fixed. The child needs to understand how to talk about her problems logically to a person who is not emotionally involved in the situation (like her father is) , and find ways to understand that this is no lacking of her own, and also find ways to maybe break through to her mother (without anger or resentment) and instigate healthy change in her own life.

This little girl is screaming out for a child advocate like a suitable educated therapist. And to think , all this can happen because you cared enough to talk about the problems you're seeing. I hope it works out.

The problem started with the mother and daughter dynamic, this is what needs to be worked on.

The father needs to know that he needs the benefit of knowing about child psychology. Maybe you can find a book  , or articles for him to read. You can write him a loving note, (without threatening him about your relationship) with all your findings about the question of whether a child should ever sleep in their parent's bed and all the reasoning for the findings. Then focus on the problem. Find articles about how harmful it is that his daughter is living in a home where the mother never looks her in the eye. Maybe it would be better for the child to live with him (with rules, so as not to destroy his chance of remarriage). He needs to discuss with his daughter about how she feels about her mom not being loving. and ask her if she would please talk to a therapist about it.

Sorry about how long these comments are. I work it out as i type.

See if you can get behind this suggestion and present to your boyfriend. I hope it works out for you the way you want it to.

My husband and myself both have children from prior marriages, and I have helped him with his daughter in much the same way as i'm suggesting you to. He's helped me see my son's needs more clearly. it is part of our relationship to be supportive and help with each other's children. That's what's happening here, or that's what can happen here. It is what has strengthened our relationship and bond to the point where our love is eternal. I wish you the same.
3060903 tn?1398565123
One last thing, if your boyfriend were to understand what the foremost child authorities are saying with concerns to parenting/co sleeping, i think he can openly talk to a 13 year old about the logic  behind the thinking. in other words, he doesn't need to be closed off from communicating to his daughter that he has taken some parenting classes and what his findings are, so the girl can then understand it is not you  or him that is making stuff up so that she is sent out of his room at night. The reasons for any changes in his parenting style will be accepted alot easier if he's able to have his daughter understand the reasons for it. I think it would give her comfort that he cared enough to seek out parental counsel so that he does the best job raising her to be a healthy individual. None of this needs to be said it came from you starting the conversation either. He can look like a hero seeking out knowledge and wisdom about parenting. It doesn't have to look like you were knit picking or jealous of their relationship.
134578 tn?1614729226
It doesn't sound like you think it is sexual in nature, but that it bothers you anyway.  If she acts like a lost girl, I don't think I would go into it to break this up.  You're not your boyfriend's wife, you're just his girlfriend, and his daughter has deeper rights to him than you do.  He and she will work out when and how to get her to stop being frightened at night, or they won't, but it doesn't sound like it is bothering either of them if she sleeps in his bed.  Sooner or later one of them will decide it's not convenient any more, and that will be the end of it.
Avatar universal
Their Relationship is not Your business - as You are entering Their space.  If this concerns You so, You should move on as I suspect that even when She stops sleeping in His bed You are going to feel insecure with Their Relationship - there will be something else.  You should not give Them any 'grief' on this, nor should You accept something, anything in Your own life that You are not comfortable with.  I vote for a new BoyFriend - perhaps one without Children.  As a Step-Parent one should never, ever, ever try to change a Parents' relationship with His/Her Child - whether or not You approve.

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