I tend not to write much about celebrities on my blog. As a general rule, I find there’s just too much other stuff going on in the world (especially my family’s world) for me to discuss who’s doing/saying what out in Hollywood. But when I heard that Brad Pitt (and then Kevin Kline) recently made comments about co-sleeping, something I just wrote about a few days ago, it was a) timely, b) something near and dear to my heart and c) I felt compelled to post.
From People magazine:
Brad Pitt says he and Angelina Jolie are going to need a bigger bed â€“ for their expanding brood.
“We’re not done,” Pitt, 43, quipped, acknowledging public interest in the family’s growth. “They say, ‘Any plans for a fifth?’ And I say, ‘And a sixth, and a seventh, and an eighth, and a ninth.’ That’s my answer.”
“We also made a 9-foot-wide bed” that fits him, Jolie, 32, and all four children, Pitt who is starring in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, told the Associated Press. “Just big enough. One more and we’ll have to go to 11 feet.”
From OK! Magazine:
Kevin Kline, 59, agrees with fellow actor Brad Pitt when it comes to the family bed, also known as co-sleeping. He and his wife, actress Phoebe Cates, 44, still allow son Owen, 16, and daughter, Greta, 13, to join them at night.
There is a theory that a child has to teach itself to go to sleep, and if every time it cries you whisk them out of their bed — the jury is still out on that. But our kids still sleep in our bed.
Kevin admits that every parent questions whether or not to have their children sleep with them.
There are so many books that say ‘It’s the family bed, why not?’ and there are others that say ‘Oh no.’ It all depends about their age.’
Jane London, a deejay from local radio station Mix 100, recently spoke her mind on the air about Brad Pitt’s co-sleeping, calling it “creepy.” When questioned about her statement she responded, “I find the thought of having 10 people in one bed to be somewhat disturbing, to say the least.” You will notice from her bio that Jane has no children. I think it’s easier to pass judgment on others’ parenting when you haven’t had the experience of parenting yourself. (To read more about Miss London’s comments, click on over to A Mama’s Blog. You’ll have to scroll down a bit to get to the part where she describes the radio show and her emails with Miss London.)
Personally, I think it’s great that Brad and Angelina are co-sleeping, for a couple of reasons. My guess is that children of celebrities don’t have the most stable lives. One parent is off working, while the other cares for the children, then the one parent comes home and the other goes off to film a movie. (Brad even indicates this in his interview.) When they are out in public, they are hounded by the paparazzi. I would think that could be rather frightening to a child. I think by providing a safe nighttime environment, such as a family bed, they are helping their children feel secure and a closeness with the parents and siblings. The other thing is that three of their children are adopted and I think by having a family bed, the kids are able to bond more quickly with their family. And just because Brad says they have plans for more children does not mean they will be biological children. I think there’s a good chance they will be adopting again. So the family bed will help the children with the transition into their new family.
A friend of mine is in the process of adopting two children and she told me that when you are adopting, it’s advised that you treat the children the same way you would treat a biological baby for the first year to facilitate bonding. In other words, if you would co-sleep with a newborn, then you should co-sleep with your adopted child as well. There’s actually a really good article about the family bed and adoptive families
And I’m glad that Kevin Kline is showing his support by admitting that his family also shares a family bed from time to time. I believe that when kids know that they can go to their parents, whether it’s during the day or in the middle of the night, that helps to foster a secure and trusting relationship. And as the children get older, like in Kevin’s family’s case, hopefully that equates to the children feeling like they can talk to their parents about anything – drugs, alcohol, sex, abuse, etc. I believe that to have a secure parent-child relationship, you need to keep the lines of communication open, and not shut off to them just because it’s dark out.
A different friend of mine made a very important point in that people seem to forget that we are mammals. She said, “Mammals give birth, lactate (and nurse their young until about the age when permanent teeth erupt) and sleep with their young closely attached. If humans had given up these behaviors, even in the last 200 years, we would probably be extinct as a species.”
She also pointed out that just because we can afford larger houses with multiple bedrooms, it doesn’t mean that our needs as mammals have changed. A lot of this is covered in the book, “Our Babies, Ourselves” by Meredith Small, and is a fascinating read if you ever have the chance. I read it a few years ago and should really get my own copy since it’s such a great book (and highly quotable). I’m kicking myself now for not having a copy of my own on hand.
I did, however, find some related information on The Natural Child Project: Throughout human history, breast-feeding mothers sleeping alongside their infants constituted a marvelously adaptive system in which both the mothers’ and infants’ sleep physiology and health were connected in beneficial ways. By sleeping next to its mother, the infant receives protection, warmth, emotional reassurance, and breast milk – in just the forms and quantities that nature intended.
My point is that I know co-sleeping is not for everyone, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the people who do choose to do it. Just because a family bed is not something everyone in this culture subscribes to, that doesn’t make it bad or wrong. There are very valid reasons to support co-sleeping. If Brad and Angelina want to have the Biggest Bed in the World, more power to them. But to say that they are “creepy” because of their choice just seems ignorant and close-minded to me.
It sounds to me like Brad and Angelina are trusting their instincts and doing what’s right for their family. We could all learn something from that.
For more information about the family bed, visit Ask Dr. Sears or The Natural Family Project.
Lastly, this is a bit of an odd request, but if anyone out there knows how to get in touch with Brad or Angelina or their agencies, could you please Contact Me? Attachment Parenting International is hoping to find a way to get in touch with them. Thanks! 🙂
Want to play along with “What I believe”? Click on over to The Natural Mommy and read more about it.