Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Monsters in the closet

At what age do you make your kids sleep in their own room?

That’s the question that’s been pinging around my skull the past few months. Until recently, my daughters have always shared a room. Heck, they’ve mostly slept in the same bed even though there’s always been another one available. They’ve just wanted that closeness. The security.

About a year ago (probably more, my memory is shoddy on this), my oldest daughter began begging us for her own room – partly because she was getting older, but mostly because she doesn’t share any of her sister’s interests. A few months ago we broke down and converted our spare room into a fourth bedroom. Every kid now has their own bedroom. All is well, yes? Well, no.

Daughter number 2 still craves that security of sleeping in the same room as someone. She no longer needs to be in the same bed, but she finds it difficult to sleep in her own room. So, she’s been sleeping on the top bunk in her brother’s room, effectually making her room one big closet. I can accept this emotionally. I understand that she’s scared. However, I can’t keep letting that space go to waste. She’s gonna use it for her bedroom or she’s going to lose it.

DN2 turns 9 March 1 and I’ve set this date as her must-sleep-in-her-own-room cut-off date. After the first I’m requiring her to sleep in her room (of course there’s some flexibility here – weekends, special occasions, etc.). I’ve given her plenty of notice – I told her last night. I’m being rather accommodating – I told her to let us know what she needs to make her more comfortable. I’m willing to help within reason. Night light? Sure. Lamp? You bet! Set you up so you can watch movies? Uh huh. I stopped short of running satellite to her room, but I’m even thinking about how I might be able to do this (I’m short a line. I’ll have to splice an input and she’ll have to watch whatever’s on another TV).

Am I being unreasonable? Is it too much to expect for a nine-year-old to sleep in her own room? I realize that some kids grow up sleeping two or three to a room their entire life, but that, in a way, is my point. She’s got this benefit (that she doesn’t want to lose, by the way – she just doesn’t want to sleep in there) and she’s kind of abusing it. I want her to learn to be able to sleep by herself, too.

Maybe I’m just being a mean old daddy.


Randi said...

Caylin and I agree with you. She is a big girl. She can do it. The only question is what is at the bottom of her not wanting to sleep in her own bed? And remind her, that she will get to share a bedroom again soon when Grandma and I get there.

Cullen said...

Probably has something to do with the wild badgers I put in her room about midnight.

Andy said...

Cullen, I am speaking from true ignorance when it comes to daughters. I have four sons, and circumstances have in the past required "3-to-a-room." The oldest 3 are gone, and on their own.

But, I am a married man, and grew up with one sister. My wife had her own room from infancy (but she only had one sibling...a brother). And, it seems like my Sis was about 6 years old when she got her own room (but she was the only girl with 3 brothers).

My Sis, and my wife, both enjoyed the "safety" of being away from ruthless brothers.

You are not being a mean old Dad. 9 years old is really old enough to sleep alone. But, I'll confess that #2 son (who is now 26) would crawl into bed with my wife and me at 12...

And, #4 son (now 13) still occasionally likes to climb up in our bed. But, never to sleep...just to get some Mom & Dad love before settling into his own quarters to fend off the monsters.

Like I said...I've never been a Dad to daughters. But, 9 seems reasonable. I guess it depends.

Short answer...this is your call Cullen. Don't bother to thank me for this sage advice. ;)

Cullen said...

My brother and I shared a room for a while and I hated it. It didn't last very long. I have problems comprehending not wanting to have your own room. I try to be compassionate, but still ... I want to be, "What do you mean you don't want to sleep in your own room!?!?"

Andy said...

Yeah, me too Cullen. With two brothers ganged up on top of me (and their merciless friends), I was HAPPY when I got my own little corner of the world.

Dunno. Maybe girls are different than boys. HA! YA THINK???

I guess every child is different, and each progress to that point at their own pace. I realize Cullen, that I am giving you ZERO help. ;)

But, my ignorant, expert opinion is that 9 is a good age to lay down the law about just about everything. Then you'll see how it goes, and adjust accordingly.

Anonymous said...
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Andy said...

Heh! Cullen, you've got chink spam. Mao himself...you've done hit the big time!

But, the proverb is probably correct.

The Fifth String said...

Nine seems later than necessary, but yeah, own room if available.

My only datum for this is that my girls were the best of buddies when they shared a room (up to 8 and 6, respectively), even to the extent that if one got put in time-out the other would go over and they would hug each other until time-out was over.

Then when we moved they got their own rooms. And then the turf wars started...