In today's NY Times is a piece on parents who have their children (not infants) sleep in their bed, and how many of said parents keep it a secret for fear of being criticized. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/23/health/23well.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&ref=science&pagewanted=2&adxnnlx=1193151604-FG49PfGcnl+QvHZvv1bixw)
Well, let me add my critical voice to the discussion. There's a reason why such parents fear criticism. I can tell you of countless situations where a child was suffering from developmental problems and delayed maturity, even up to as old as seven-to-ten years of age, because parents were allowing the child into their adult bed. In these situations, when the parents followed my recommendation to get the child out of the parental bed, the child experienced a maturational growth spurt almost immediately. Why? Because what children want and what children need are not always the same thing. In early childhood, the pull to regress back to an earlier stage of development is strong. Growing up is hard. But in every species of higher mammal, the mother knows that her offsrping have to be pushed out of the nest and off of the maternal teat, so the young being can attain healthy, life-sustaining independence. Fortunately, for those animals such good parenting is instinctual. Unfortunately, for human children, parents can overrule their instincts. I've said this before and I'll say it again - parents who let their children into their bed past infancy are emotionally lazy, and are not operating from a place of mature parental love, but rather are being driven by their own unworked on fears of deprivation. Get those kids out of your bed. Please!
Peter Loffredo, LCSW