Maria: I think, or at least I get the impression, that people in the UK categorize themselves and others a bit more than we do here in Sweden, when it comes to parenting strategies. Me and my husband have never taken any conscious decisions to follow any particular “school”, but I suppose we do “trial and error” rather than anything else.
But I do know this – when we have tried to be firm and rigid rather than listening to our children I have felt like a really bad parent. The week we tried to get our son to fall asleep on his own when he was little was torture, and he didn’t respond like the book said. Now he’s 8, and we lie beside him until he falls asleep. And it is great. We have our best conversations before he falls asleep. And my 6-year old daughter sleeps beside me every night. And that is more or less “my fault”. I wake up really easily, and have a hard time going back to sleep. And my daughter had (seems to have stopped now) really bad “night terrors”. That’s what we call it in Swedish, when the child seems to be awake but you can’t get any proper contact with her. So for us, co-sleeping has been a life saver. And I dread the time when my children no longer want to cuddle in the evening.
Also, I think it is a strange custom we have in the west, that our children should all sleep alone, most adults prefer company.
Actually, my husband has slept in different places ever since we had children. Our “problem” is that my husband sleeps really well and I am such a light sleeper … I know some people argue that it is bad for the marriage if you let the children in to the bedroom, but I would say sleep deprivation is worse. As our children are 6 and 8 now, you also realise that time flies so, so quickly. They are not babies anymore. So I don’t see any reason to panic, soon enough they will not want him or me to be around them all the time anyway.
Now my son has no problem sleeping on his own, and my daughter doesn’t mind sleeping in her own bed either, but she likes sleeping in our bed so we let her. But I have many friends who also let their children cry themselves to sleep. And if that works for them, that is fine too.
In fact, after I wrote all of that, last night my daughter declared that from now on she will sleep in her own bed! So, while it is nice for me and my husband to get some privacy again, I will really miss sleeping next to my kids. Those years fly by so quickly, and I have no regrets whatsoever about letting my children into my bedroom when they have felt like it.