Parenting is difficult and the choices a parent makes are generally not open to second-guessing by the government. However, thanks to nosy neighbors, custody battles and tragic injuries and death, the practice is often in the news. A recent case in the United Kingdom set off a firestorm after parents lost custody of their children because they preferred co-sleeping.
13. Everyday Practice
Something you do every day could wind up losing you custody of your kids. Intervening in how a parent raises their child is a controversial subject, but the state has a right to remove children if they are at imminent risk of harm. One mother wound up losing custody of her kids for a highly controversial reason.
12. Mystery Bruises
Her crime? Letting her kids to sleep with her in bed. This is obviously something that many parents do, but a judge disagreed with her choices. This happened because the kids had bruises on their body, leading the judge to decide they were unfit. A social worker concluded the bruises were caused by excessive force against their children. The social worker also cited the mom for failing to follow his advice on not co-sleeping.
Co-sleeping essentially means sleeping in close proximity to your child. It may be in the same bed or just in the same room. Some ways of co-sleeping that different families use include parents sleeping in the same bed with the child, kids sleeping in a sidecar arrangement next to the bed, parents and children sleeping in different beds in the same room, or parents occasionally welcoming kids into their bed.
10. She Loved Her Children
The judge did not condemn the mother. He even said he thought she loved her children. He said the boys had bruises because of the way the parents share their bed with their children. The injuries, the judge noted, were no doubt unintentional. Still, he found the bruising as evidence of abuse. Unintentional abuse? No wonder parents are concerned.
9. Lectures from the Judge
The judge wasn’t done lecturing the mom. He said that mothers think they know best, but indicated that she did not. Over 80 percent of parents sleep in the same bed with their children at some point during their lives. Some experts, however, believe too much co-sleeping can be negative both physically and psychologically.
8. Where Were the Bruises From?
Not everyone agrees that the boys had bruises from shared sleeping. Some speculate that the bruises actually resulted from rough handling by social workers who removed them from their parents’ care. Whatever the cause, the result of the custody hearings has people up in arms. That’s because the kids were put up for adoption!
7. Up for Adoption!
That’s right, the court indicated that the children should not only be removed from the home, but also put up for adoption. The mother would therefore lose custody forever for something that even the judge agrees was inadvertent abuse. The case is still pending, but social workers may have the upper hand, thanks to the judge.
6. The March of Dimes
Parents concerned about this case have debated whether co-sleeping is really a bad thing or a valid choice. There is conflicting evidence about whether co-sleeping is risky. The March of Dimes does not advocate sleeping with infants and small children. It says co-sleeping may “put your baby at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS) and other dangers during sleep, like suffocation.”
5. Co-Sleeping Advocates
Parents who advocate the practice says it is more peaceful for nursing mothers who do not need to get up and go into the other room all night. Parents also believe children find it soothing and it allows them to provide constant comfort.
4. Panicked Parents
Sharing a bed with children probably should not put custody at risk. Many moms are worried about the implications of the ruling, but there may be more information about the case that would change the perception. As of now, they just know that the parents claim the bruises were cited as the reason for terminating parental rights.
3. Excessive Force
The mother is from Cambridgeshire in the U.K. The authorities started looking into her case when the younger child was just a few months old and had excessive bruising. The court heard that one of the boys had been unintentionally injured by his father’s use of “excessive force” and the other toddler hurt as a result of the “rough, abrupt manner” in which he was handled by his mother.
2. Tragic Death
Studies show 80 percent of parents co-sleep at some points, but for babies this can result in tragedy. A Florida mother was recently charged with manslaughter after the death of her 18-day old baby while co-sleeping. The same woman had also seen another of her children die because of co-sleeping back in 2009.
1. Custody Battles
Courts struggle to figure out what to do about co-sleeping because in most cases it results in no obvious injury. The basic legal standard applied to child custody cases in every jurisdiction in the United States is “best interest of the child.” But there is great debate about what constitutes the “best interests” and who gets to decide. Unfortunately, parents sometimes use the practice against each other in custody cases.