Remember the scene in The Sound of Music when a thunderstorm sends the von Trapp children — all seven of them! — into Maria’s bed? The young governess could have marched them right back to their rooms (“Beat it, Friedrich and Brigitta. I’m trying to get some z’s here!”). But of course she doesn’t; she’s sweet, loves kids and wants to make a good impression. So she rises to the occasion and gets them all singing about whiskers on kittens and crisp apple strudels to take their minds off the noise.
Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids & Counting clan, has a similar philosophy. As she writes in her blog, “When it comes to letting our kids into bed with us, whether it’s during a storm and they’re scared, or they just need to be comforted, I’m not such a strict parent. I welcome them.”
In fact, she and husband Jim Bob keep extra blankets and pillows in their room, so if more than one child wanders in, they can sleep on the floor and spare their parents a night of stolen covers and kicks in the back. And they leave their bedroom door open for easier access: “[W]hen my boys were little they’d be halfway asleep and they’d bam into the door if it was closed.”
Keep in mind that despite the size of their family, only four of them are still in the prime “Mommy, I had a bad dream” years (their youngest daughters range in age from 2 to 6). But there are times when even the teens need late-night comfort.
“It doesn’t happen all the time, but when the family is walking through a traumatic experience, like the death of Grandpa Duggar or little Jubilee, some of the older ones may come in the room in the middle of the night and just ask us to pray with them,” Michelle writes. “As parents I think we need to be sensitive to our children and respect them as individuals and try to understand what they’re going through.”
But while the mom-of-many cherishes the moments of closeness and comfort with her kids, she and her husband do make time for themselves (hey, they might not have had 19 children if they kept an open-door policy every night). “And while I feel that it’s important [to be available], they also know that when Mom and Dad’s door is locked, that’s it (unless it’s an emergency),” Michelle says.
What about you? Do you let your kids snuggle with you on stormy or bad-dream nights, or do you hug them and send them back to their own beds?
(Fun trivia fact: In the stage version, Maria and the kids sing “The Lonely Goatherd” in the storm scene.)
Read more of Shana’s writing at Momsperiments.
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