Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Girl's Refusal to Sleep Alone Leaves Mom All by Herself

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Rick," and I have a 4-year-old daughter, "Carmelle." When I brought Carmelle home from the hospital, she slept in a crib in our bedroom and I'd bring her to bed with me for midnight breast feedings so I could sleep.

Since then, Carmelle has refused to sleep in her own bed. I placed a child bed next to ours in our bedroom, and each night I'd tuck her in. But she would cry, so Rick would let her climb into ours. For the past year, she has slept between us. The situation is now bordering on the ridiculous. I often wonder why I bothered to have my tubes tied.

Carmelle has a room of her own that I recently furnished, but she refuses to use it. I now sleep alone in our king-sized bed. That's because I told Rick I didn't want her wetting in my bed any longer. I thought a brand-new bedroom set with a twin-sized bed would encourage Carmelle to sleep in her room and Rick to sleep with me. Well, it backfired, and I continue to sleep alone, while my husband sleeps with our daughter in her bed. Have you any advice for me? -- ABANDONED IN PALM BAY, FLA.

DEAR ABANDONED: Take your daughter to her pediatrician for an examination to determine why she's still wetting the bed. There are medications and devices that can help her -- but first you must determine what's causing the problem.

Once that's done, it's time for you and your husband to have a heart-to-heart about why he's sleeping with his daughter instead of his wife. If necessary, have it in a marriage counselor's office. In some cultures, a "family bed" is a tradition (in our culture it is much less so), but even then, the husband and wife find time to be alone with each other. For the sake of your marriage, you must resolve this important issue, so don't put it off any longer.

P.S. Some sessions with a child psychologist might also be helpful. Your little girl isn't going to like it when her routine is disrupted, so be prepared.