“Jaw With John” – 12-Year-Old Oedipus? Nearly

My almost 13-year-old grandson stays overnight at our house and always wants his grandmother to sleep with him because he is “afraid.” He promised to stop asking for her to sleep with him when he turned 12 but has not kept his promise.

We live in a “55 and over” community that is very secure. He and his mother text throughout his entire stay — everything from “good morning” to “what did you have for dinner?” Both mother and son appear to be considerably neurotic. It is the same when his 10-year-old sister comes to spend the night.

I may be an old fogey, but I think this is unhealthy behavior. It sends the wrong message to the kids about safety, individual strengths and independence.

I do not say anything about it to my son and his wife because I fear they would start restricting their visits to our house, and maybe even our visits to theirs. We do not say anything to the grandkids for the same reason. Should my wife and I just pretend that all is well or should we attempt to talk with all of them about it? What do you suggest? — Dumbfounded

Dear Dumbfounded:

No 12-year-old boy should sleep in the same bed as his grandmother. That’s just plain weird. And borderline Oedipal. His mother just sounds like she wants to make sure he is safe, happy, and is hovering. That’s a real problem. She needs to learn how to let go and allow him to grow up and be an independent person. That’s not neurotic. That’s being overprotective.

The sleeping arrangements in your house needs to be changed immediately. If not cold turkey then gradually. If his friends, or enemies, were to find out that he sleeps with his grandmother then all hell will break loose and he will be teased for days. Tire him out during his stay so that he falls asleep on the couch and just leave him there. Sneak away as he snoozes and lock your door. If he wakes up in the middle of the night he’ll find that he can only go to his own room and not yours.

I remember one time I slept over at a friends house and fell asleep on their couch. In the middle of the night I woke up and found I was alone. I moved quietly through the house looking for him and if anyone else was awake. I made my way upstairs and found that he was in his parents bedroom. I know this because he wasn’t in his bed and I saw him in there. I then crawled into my sleeping bag, literally crawled, and woke up a few hours later. I never brought it up that they just left me there but that situation taught me to never fall asleep at a friends place (where I was going to be spending the night) unless I was actually in my bed/couch/sleeping bag. This boy needs to learn where he can and cannot sleep and he needs to learn it now.

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