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Parenting, Culture, and Sleep

In so many different aspects, childrearing and parenting is based on what we have learned from our parents raising us, and the norms of the culture in which we were raised. In the multi-cultural society in which we live, this leads to a wide variation of home rules, parenting practices, and child-parent interactions, even in the same neighborhood. The issue of how families create, nurture, and implement bedtimes, sleep routines, and sleep environments is an important example of this diversity.


In Mother’s Corner, one mother noted that she was regularly criticized by well meaning individuals for allowing her son to sleep with her and her husband. Yet, she cherished the time spent with her son, and one can infer that he did as well. Was it wrong for her to have everyone in one bed? I suspect that most pediatricians and marriage counselors would frown on this practice. Yet, the family unit was likely functioning well and strong bonds were reinforced.


It is standard and reasonable advice in our society to have children in their own bed. It allows the marital bed to remain intact, and it creates healthy sleep habits for our children. Yet, there are many countries where the cultural norm is for the child to be in bed with the parents. Economic issues also play a significant role. If “home” is a one room place, having more than one bed is impractical.


The important point is that a loving and nurturing environment is the paramount issue. Ignore others who may criticize you and your spouse in regard to your sleep routines. If everyone is sleeping-well, and if family interactions are solid, you are indeed a good parent!

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