Why Lying Down With Your Kids Until They Fall Asleep Is Not A Bad Habit

As a dad to two boys, one two and one three, I’ve wrestled with this a lot. I’m always pragmatic, until night comes that is, and I find myself trapped in their beds again, trying to decide how much time is enough time, and what the best method is to extract myself from the bed without moving the mattress – I currently waver between using the frame to lever myself off it using just my arms, like some kind of amateur gymnast, and a kind of roll and hop method.

But sometimes lying there in bed doesn’t feel like being trapped – there is something wonderful about watching their angelic faces – as truly exhausted as they should be after putting everything in to a day of learning and play and energy. It takes me back to those childhood days – feeling clean in bed after a bath, slipping into crisp, clean sheets and full of wonder at the possibilities of what might happen in that unknown space between sleep and wake – what magical dreams could my mind conjure up? With children there's magic in rediscovering your own childhood, and seeing it again through their eyes.

So I lie there, and I wait just the right amount of time, sometimes playing apps on my phone, like Twitter, Clash Royale and play something like Reel King Slot Online, and then when I’m about to implement the extraction manoeuvre I hear… ‘Dad? Where are you going?’ and I know it wasn’t quite long enough.

For some reason lying in bed with your kids, or letting them sleep in your bed, is a big taboo. I remember watching a TV show about this a few years ago. The theory was that you had to be disciplined, and just shut them in their room. When they know they’re not going to get your attention they simply give up, and go to sleep. It’s the same theory that you apply to dogs – don’t give them attention when they do things wrong, and they’ll eventually stop. The family on the show seemed to respond, and it got their life back in order. The kids slept more regular hours and stopped waking up in the night. The adults could get their lives back on track. Except… it seemed rather sad to me somehow. Seeing the young son waiting hopefully at his door for his parents who never came.

I realised at that point though, children aren’t dogs so why would we treat them that way? If the job of parents is to prepare our children to thrive in the world, then we should give them a secure base in which they feel loved. The nature of attachment disorders, the root cause of so many mental health problems in adulthood, is a lack of a secure attachment to early caregivers. So what’s wrong with staying with my children, holding their hands lovingly, until they fall asleep? If they feel loved and secure then my job as a parent is half complete. From that place of love and security they’ll feel confident enough to go out and explore the world on their own. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And if the price I have to pay is spending an hour a night watching my boys fall asleep, and trying to explain life to a five year old, then it’s a price worth paying.

Yorkshire Dad

Part-time daddy and lifestyle blogger. Father of 2 boys under 2. Golfer, scare-fan, tea-lover, traveller, squash and poker player. I write on the @HuffPostUK http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/karl-young/

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