This blog is a response that was written for someone asking for perspective on co-sleeping, more specifically whether or not co-sleeping leads to (in)dependence – translated from Dutch.
Personally I have found that it provides a good foundation from which my son can explore the world more independently. When children/babies are very small, they have so many needs – both psychologically and physiologically; where within meeting these needs you in essence create an environment of “you’re welcome here”, “you’re being supported”. Which rests the child assured and nurtures self-trust. Versus the scenario where you are very small and at your all-time most vulnerable phase, not having your needs met with a response – you’re creating an environment which begs the questions “why am I not being supported?”
Where we as parents, are essentially ‘Gods’ that have all the power to meet their needs or not; and when we don’t, the conclusion forming in the child easily becomes “it has to be me, there’s something wrong with me, I am at fault”.
This type of environment or atmosphere breeds distrust in the child. This can later on manifest itself in dependent, insecure behaviour but just as much in ‘confident behaviour’, but where this confidence is more a perversion of actual confidence. In the sense that the inner angst gets balanced out through a big ego, where one utilises superiority to hide/cover up the actual experience of inferiority. From the outside as an observer, the parents are rest assured because from the outside ‘it all looks okay’, but on the inside there’s all kind of things going on which will tend to come out / channelled through in more secretive behaviour.
I don’t see co-sleeping in itself as a guarantee, but more of a ‘symptom’ of a more conscious perspective coming from the parents towards the needs of their child(ren); where sleeping together is only a single aspect of daily life where this kind of conscious awareness is taking place, but where there are so many more moments/aspects in every day life which require conscious awareness in your presence and response as a parent – where if this is not in place in all the other aspects, you can still facilitate dependent behaviour.
On the other hand I have also found that children have a lot more needs than what I was personally aware of before I had my son. I was really baffled that this wasn’t part of my reality and that this was ‘known’. Within this context, it can be quite scary to see this sort of ‘dependent behaviour’, in the sense that it’s easy to think that “Shit, I must be doing something wrong, because this isn’t normal right?” Where it’s not that the child is being ‘extra dependent’, but that we, overtime, have forgotten what it entails to raise a small child and what it takes to really be involved and present in raising your child. Where the dependence is not the say, detrimental kind, but simply a fact of inter-dependence and inter-connectedness.
The child is not at fault here, but our conception of what is considered ‘normal’. What is normal, is to produce a good, obedient working force to keep the machine that is our society running, and in the light of this: personal involvement and presence of parents in tending to children’s needs, is well, inconvenient and cumbersome.
Going against the current of what is considered normal can arouse fears as the bulk of information that’s being produced is to maintain the status quo – not to change it. Our own conditioning, having internalised the outer precepts as our own, is very skilful at stirring doubt and leading ourselves to think that we’re being irrational. That if we persist with x, y, z (fill in whatever your parents, teachers, media etc have presented as the worst case scenario you’ll manifest should you continue with this other path, to strike fear into your heart in the hopes you’ll give up).
It’s not a simple matter, and there are many dimensions that come into play once you start opening it up!