Sleeping Arrangements

6 Jan

Dear LetterBalm: My daughter is to be married for the second time in the spring. Our granddaughter is six years old and quite sociable. We love taking care of her. She gets along very well with her mother’s fiancé whom she calls Papa Joe. But sometimes she says things that are worrisome. Last week, she said that she had a nightmare and went to Papa Joe’s and Mommy’s bed to sleep. She said that she slept in the middle and that Papa Joe was in his underwear. She didn’t seem unduly upset by this – she just told us casually. My husband and I don’t want to cause alarm or make our granddaughter anxious. How can we approach her mother with our concerns?

–Grandma

You’re a vigilant grandmother, and that’s just fine. Ms. L.B. senses that there’s nothing improper going on here. Kids get into bed with their parents for all kinds of reasons, including nightmares and thunderstorms. It’s not too complicated and not worth making a big deal out of. Keep things open and natural with your granddaughter, but don’t grill her or otherwise make her uncomfortable about what goes on at home. (She might start manufacturing details to please you.) Meanwhile, take your daughter aside and say something like this, short and sweet and pay attention to her reaction:

Sharon, when Gracie stayed with us last weekend, she told us she had a nightmare and crawled into bed with you and Joe. She mentioned that he was in his underwear. She wasn’t upset or anything – it seemed to be completely natural for her. I just thought you’d want to know. It’s good that Gracie is so comfortable around Joe. Clearly, he’s established a terrific rapport with her.

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