If you’re a parent who co-sleeps with your young child, at some point, someone will declare disapprovingly, “You’ll never get them out of your bed!”
Well, what if you didn’t want to get your children out of your bed? What if they wanted to stay there, and you wanted them to stay… until they were six, or eight, or 10? How about if they were still sleeping in your bed when they were in their teens?
Betteanne Camagna and her husband Carl have co-slept with all five of their children until they were ready to leave the family bed. For a couple of them, it wasn’t until they were 13.
“They would hang in their room and chat with friends and such until they were ready for sleep,” Camagna tells The Motherish. “It’s a comfort thing.”
“I would cherish each night they still wanted to come in and twirl my hair and sleep, because I knew it was only a matter of time before they would say, ‘I am going to sleep in my room now,'” she adds.
Camagna, who lives in Florida, has been with her high-school sweetheart Carl since 1976. They had their first child in 1983.
"I didn't know the words 'attachment parenting' until well into the 1990s," she says, "but apparently it was what my husband and I were doing all along."
The Camagnas brought their first child into their bed, even though it was only three-quarter size - halfway between a single and a double.
"We put the baby between our heads so we could smell their sweet breath and listen for any needs baby may have," she explains. "It was so easy to nurse and then put baby back between our heads."
Their next two children, born over the following four years, joined them in that bed. It was another few years before they bought a king-size one.
"It could get very squishy as they got bigger and longer," Betteanne admits, "but we managed. If it got too squishy, then my husband would graciously leave the family bed so he could get rest for his work."
She says co-sleeping is "the best".
"It is how every tribal community from the beginning of time slept with their infants and children.
"When they are little and getting sleepy, what child doesn't want to snuggle with Mum and Dad wrapped in security and peacefulness and drift off to sleep in a sweet way?
"When they're ready to leave the family bed, that happens naturally. Even after they've made their decision, there may still be nights they just want to be close... or perhaps they watched a scary movie and just need comfort from Mum and Dad!"
The Camagnas have "unschooled" all their kids at home, instead of sending them off to formal schooling. They have always let them eat when hungry and sleep when tired. That's meant that that sometimes, Betteanne and Carl would go to bed and the children would join them later.
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"If they wanted to play with Lego or read or draw or watch TV, it was all fine. Then, when sleepy, they came in. It was rare I would have to say, 'Please keep it down... Daddy has to get up early for work.'"
All five children have grown up to be very independent. The older three - a mortgage loan processor, a hairstylist and an aesthetician - owned their own homes by the time they were 22.
"Helping our children feel very safe and secure helps them to be able to soar from the nest with great boldness," Camagna says.
The younger two, in their early teens, still live at home. The youngest, just 13, recently saved up money from her pet-sitting business and flew to Canada, on her own, to visit a friend.
"We wanted to raise our daughters to be strong, independent women and our son to be a strong, independent man," Camagna adds.
Have you co-slept with your children?