the maternal bed




George in Brixton writes:

My aunt and uncle tried for years to have a baby, using all sorts of expensive treatment. When facing defeat, and after my uncle bought an Alfa Romeo as an ersatz object of affection, my aunt became pregnant. During the pregnancy the doctors discovered my aunt had a tumour which was preventing their earlier attempts at pregnancy. They removed the tumour, the baby was born, everyone was doubly ecstatic.

But now, 13 years later and probably because of the troubled pregnancy, my aunt is completely attached to her son. He literally hasn’t had a day away from her his entire life and they still sleep in the same bed together. My mum is very concerned about this but has no idea how to broach the subject. When they stay at mum’s house for Christmas she makes up the spare bed for their son and gives his parents her bed – in an attempt to make a point – but the dad just takes the spare bed and my cousin and aunt sleep in mum’s bed together.

This isn’t normal, is it? His voice has broken and I can’t help thinking about how I was when I was 13 – riddled with hormones and unpredictable boners. Surely he will suffer from arrested development?

Anyway answer me this: how on earth do you say to someone “Stop sleeping with your son”? Even drawing attention to it is incredibly awkward. How would you guys handle this?

These two thoughts are vying for supremecy in my brain:
1. “I’m not a parent, so I’m somewhat reluctant to weigh in on other people’s family situations – what do I know? And who decides what is ‘normal’ anyway?”
2. “I’m an extremely judgemental person! This is – this is – this is…problematic.”

So, readers, I delegate to you the task of going to the comments and dropping some advice.

And I’ll just throw in this secondary question: the aunt and uncle’s relationship still seems to be going. Is this good or bad?


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4 Responses to “the maternal bed”

  1. Heather Says:

    Go to and ask your question there. CA can probably answer your question.

  2. Susan Says:

    I don’t think there is a non-judgmental way that George’s aunt could take this if he brought it up with her. It’s probably likely that the dad has brought it up before (considering that bringing one’s son into the marital bed would probably raise questions for ANY couple), but it she put her foot down and kept it down for the last 13 years.

    Maybe the best course of action would be for George to bite his tongue and wait a few years; inevitably his cousin will become interested in the opposite sex and the idea of sleeping in the same bed as his mother won’t be as appealing…

  3. Toby Says:

    George, have you tried talking to your cousin about this? I know it may be hard for both of you, but if you could broach the subject with him – in a totally non-judgemental way – and he expressed any sort of discomfort, that would give you an excuse to report that to your parents, who could then raise the matter with your aunt & uncle.
    A long way round perhaps, but maybe the dam just needs to be breached, and stepping forward to ask for advice, you may be the best person to do this. It could be the best thing you’ve ever done, as well as the hardest.
    Maybe as a first step you could invite your cousin for a sleep over without his mum?
    Good luck.

  4. Amelia Says:


    George, you need to find a therapist/psychiatrist specialising in working with children/teens, and talk to them about the best way to approach this situation (and for your cousin’s sake, sooner rather than later). My gut reaction is that this is definitely abusive behavior (psychological/emotional abuse at the very least, assuming there’s no actual sexual abuse going on).

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