The mom has a pretty good argument for letting her 4-year-old climb up for a few minutes, Carolyn Hax writes, and this couple should at least talk it over some more.
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
My husband leaves for work early, usually before the rest of the family gets up. I like to let our 4-year-old climb in bed with me for a few minutes if he waits until the appointed hour.
My husband hates this. He says it’s our bed, no kids allowed. From my perspective, the advantages are many: The kid stays quiet in a bedroom for longer, Little Brother gets more sleep (otherwise, the 4-year-old tends to wake him up), and I get a calmer start to my day.
Is this a case where he has veto power, or is it my bed, too?
– Whose Bed Is It?
DEAR WHOSE BED IS IT?: Wait — he’s not even there?! No, no, he does not have veto power over something that has zero effect on him, except perhaps to benefit him indirectly.
As long as parents, not kids, decide who’s in what bed, then you’ve done your part. I have to wonder what he gains/hopes to gain from this level of control.
I think this is about protecting our marital relationship from the kids, maybe? I find him unreasonable sometimes, though. For instance, he wanted me to go on vacation with him, leaving the kids with an overnight baby-sitter, two weeks after we moved while the 2-year-old had his leg in a cast. (In the end, he went by himself. He still doesn’t understand why I didn’t go.)
If the subject comes up again, I think I’ll stand my ground. He is a devoted husband and loving father, but acknowledging that the needs/wants of others may differ from what he thinks his would be in their situation does not come naturally to him.
– Whose Bed again
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DEAR WHOSE BED AGAIN: That’s not uncommon, certainly. Between the bed and the vacation, though, it’s clear he’s trying to maintain some space for the two of you. I don’t think it’s fair for him to be the only one expected to budge.
So, assuming you hold your ground on the bed — because good sleep and calm mornings are so incredibly important with little kids — then I think it’s essential to show you understand his need for marital privacy and supremacy, and are willing to accommodate it some other way. Book the overnight baby-sitter once per season, for example, if you can manage that — especially if you’ve been dismissing his need for couple time as a rule.
Wait, if the parent isn’t there, they have no argument as to how to handle the kids? I read it as dad doesn’t think kids should be doing this. That’s a discussion to be had with both parents.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Put that way, I agree; but I didn’t see it as a philosophical issue, I saw it as pragmatic. Still do, but this isn’t my household, so, yes, they need to talk.
And he needs to consider her view: that upholding his philosophy in his absence would mean more stress for the parent who’s home wrangling very young kids.
Yes, parents get equal say on the principles of child-rearing, but where there’s a difference that involves notable extra work, I balk at the idea that one parent draws the line and the one who gets overruled gets stuck with the work. That’s a seed for fast-growing resentment.