QUESTION: I am a 39 year old divorced
father. My son is 7. He primarily lives with my ex, but I see and
spend a lot of time with my son. Recently has asked his mother if
he could stay with me for a few weeks or a month - i.e. basically
live with me. We thought this was because of a "Summer Vacation" type
perception, but now his mother is wondering if it's because he gets
to sleep with me in my bed, unlike at his/their house where he has
his own room and bed.
My son and I are very close - real buddies,
and my living arrangements are quite meek and limited - i.e. I have
a really small efficiency apartment. I do have a sofa, but have really
never given it any thought. Do you have any thoughts this situation,
considering my living situation?
ANSWER: Your sleeping situation with
your son appears to have been forged on the basis of temporary living
arrangements. His recent request to live with you highlights the fact
that he needs his own private space in your apartment.
Talk with your son about sleeping in his own bed and
establish separate space for him to do so. Consider getting a larger
apartment to accommodate him if he does want to move in with you,
even temporarily. In general, it is a good idea to do this regardless
of how much time he spends in your residence. By addressing the issue
of space you will quickly learn what your son's motives are for his
Your son may be expressing a desire to be included
in your life on a more regular basis, and this may include the fact
that he feels "special" to you. As he matures, he will inevitably
need more space and it is natural for him to want to spend a few weeks
or more living with you in the summertime. Rather than questioning
your son's "motives" perhaps it is time to consider an adjustment
of more space so that you will be capable of responding to his desire
to increase time with you.
Remember that children grow up sooner than you realize.
By the time he is a teenager he will no doubt need less of this kind
of primary time with you. Accommodating to his needs now creates the
opportunity for developing a relationship. This window of opportunity
may close sooner than you think, as peer relationships take precedence
and his extracurricular activities call for his attention. Preteens
and teenagers often decrease time spent with the non custodial parent
as they develop their own more separate lives.
For now, you are still the center of his universe
in many ways. Enjoy it and make the most of it!
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