By Rachel Paxton
My soon-to-be 14-yr-old daughter is a night owl. It's taken me 13 exhausting years to realize that all the begging, threatening, bribing, and pleading in the world won't make a child go to sleep. My conclusion? Some kids just have their own sleeping patterns, and while it may not always be convenient, their needs definitely need to be taken into consideration.
I've tried everything to get my daughter into bed and asleep by a decent time. It wasn't until the last year or two, however, that I finally realized that she wasn't just trying to get her way, she was really having a hard time going to sleep at night.
We tried letting her stay up as late as she wanted, as long as she stayed in her room, but it quickly became harder and harder for her to get up and going in the morning, so we had to try something else.
Next we decided that she had to be in bed with the lights off at a certain time. We thought that would surely have an effect on her, that she eventually would fall asleep if she just laid there long enough. She soon complained she was lying in bed 2-3 hours a night before she was able to fall asleep. Surely it would pass, I thought, she can't lie awake indefinitely.
Well, I was wrong. Just like when she was three and cried herself to sleep when I wouldn't come in and lay with her every night. She has always had her own sleeping schedule. When she was younger I would try keeping her awake through nap time hoping she would go to bed earlier at night. Didn't work. She's always been a great sleeper. Once she's asleep a herd of elephants thundering through her room wouldn't wake her up. She'll sleep for 10-12 hours at a time, no problem, it's just the bed time that's a continuous struggle.
It was harder when she was younger, but now that she's older it's tempting to just let her go to sleep when she wants and let her suffer the consequences. Then again, my mom instincts kick in and want to try to make her go to sleep when I want her to. Yes, I can make her go to bed and turn off the light, but I can't make her go to sleep.
This year we've stumbled upon a sort of compromise that seems to work for everyone. As school and her social life have been taking up more and more of her time, her focus has been taken away, she's decided, from her spiritual life. She's started spending her late evening hours doing teen Bible studies and having her personal devotion time. In looking for a peaceful night's rest she has found something much greater--the peace of God, the most precious rest of all.
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