Co-sleeping with child of opposite gender-Until what age

Until what age may family members [i.e. parent’s and children] of opposite gender sleep together in the same bed?[1]

With clothing:[2] It is permitted for a parent and child of the opposite gender [i.e. mother with son, father with daughter] to sleep together in the same bed if they are both [fully[3]] dressed in Tzenius clothing/pajamas. This applies at any age, even if the child is now an adult [and even if the child is married[4]]. [The same applies for a grandparent and grandchild of opposite gender, that they may sleep together on the same bed when both are properly clothed.[5] It is however forbidden for a brother and sister who have reached adulthood to sleep together on the same bed even if both are clothed.[6]]

Without clothing:[7] If the child or parent[8] is undressed [or partially undressed[9]] it is only permitted to sleep together with an opposite gender child until the child reaches the age of adulthood. Prior to the child reaching age, it is permitted for the parents to sleep together even if both are completely undressed.[10] [However, it is improper for a mother to cuddle with the child once he reaches a certain age, even if he is below the definition of adulthood.[11]

When is the child considered to have reached adulthood?[12] There are a number of signs of adulthood, some depending on age and others depending on signs of puberty and maturity:

  1. Age: Once the child reaches the age of 12 for a girl and 13 for a boy [i.e. Bar/Bas Mitzvah], he/she is considered to have reached adulthood, irrelevant of signs of puberty or maturity.[13] Some Poskim[14] rule once the child reaches the age of 11 for a girl and 12 for a boy, he/she is considered to have reached adulthood, irrelevant of signs of puberty or maturity. [Seemingly one is to be stringent.]
  2. Puberty: Once the child shows signs of puberty, such as; growing pubic hair and breasts [for a daughter] he/she is considered to have reached adulthood even below age 12/13.[15]
  3. Maturity: Once the daughter is mature enough to be embarrassed to be undressed in front of her father, and once the son is mature enough for the mother to be embarrassed to be undressed in front of her son, it is considered that the son/daughter have reached adulthood, irrelevant of their age.[16] [Accordingly, in most cases the child/parent may not sleep together unclothed even many years prior to the child reaching puberty or Bar/Bas Mitzvah, as the child is already embarrassed to be seen unclothed.[17] It goes without saying that a parent who feels Hirhurim for the child when unclothed, must stop co-sleeping from that age and onwards.[18]]

Summary:
Parents and grandparents may co-sleep with children of any age or gender if both are properly clothed. If not properly clothed, the parent/grandparent may not co-sleep with a child of opposite gender once: a) the child reaches age 11 for a girl, 12 for a boy; b) has grown signs of puberty; c) Is embarrassed to be undressed in front of the other. Siblings of opposite gender may not sleep together even if clothed, once they have reached the above age or signs of maturity.

 _____________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Michaber Even Haezer 21/7; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema; Mishneh Kiddushin 80b

[2] Michaber ibid; Beis Shmuel 21/14

[3] Did not find explicitly in Poskim, but so seems logical

[4] Beis Shmuel ibid

[5] Beis Shmuel ibid; See Beis Yosef E.H. 21 “Kasav”

[6] Beis Shmuel ibid

[7] Michaber Even Haezer 21/7; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema; Mishneh Kiddushin 80b

Daughter is married: A child bride [i.e. Meureses/Mekudeshes] is considered like an adult even if she is prior to the age of adulthood, and hence her father may not sleep with her together unclothed. [Michaber ibid]

[8] From Michaber E.H. ibid it is evident that this law applies if only the parent or only child is undressed, and certainly if both are undressed.

[9] Did not find explicitly in Poskim, but so seems logical

[10] Michaber ibid “Bekiruv Basar”

[11] See Chavos Yair 72, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 21/6

[12] Background: There is general confusion in Poskim regarding the exact age of adulthood due to various opinions, and contradictory statements, as well as various versions of text: See Kiddushin 81b for two opinions in name of Rav Assi; See Rishonim [Rif; Rashi; Rosh] brought in Beis Yosef E.H. 21 “Keitzad” for different versions of the second opinion of Rav Assi; See Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 who give one definition [i.e. age] regarding Shema; See Michaber E.H. 21/7 who gives a second definition [i.e. puberty and maturity] regarding co-sleeping without clothing; See Tur O.C. 73 and E.H. 21 who gives slightly different definitions between Shema and co-sleeping; See M”A 73/2 who questions the seeming contradiction in both the Michaber and Tur between the ruling in O.C. regarding Shema and the ruling in E.H. regarding co-sleeping; See also M”B 73/11; For possible answers of contradiction: See Perisha E.H. 21 [i.e. in O.C. refers to case that other people are in room, in E.H. refers to Yichud with child]; Elya Raba 73/5 [O.C. refers to father/son, mother/daughter; E.H. refers to Mother/son, father/daughter] See P”M 73 A”A 2; Machatzis Hashekel 73/2; Kaf Hachaim 73/11

Opinion of Admur: Admur 73/3 defines adulthood regarding Shema as 12/13 or 11/12 with puberty, and implies that it remains permitted to sleep together unclothed even passed this age and the issue is only regarding Shema, which is in clear contradiction to Kiddushin ibid and Tur/Michaber E.H. ibid, of which Admur certainly does not argue on. This is the same question the M”A ibid asks on Michaber O.C. ibid. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol on Admur ibid who saw the words of the M”A and most certainly the answer of the Elya Raba ibid or Perisha ibid but offered no hint in the text to an answer for this great contradiction; Furthermore, it is quite clearly implicit from the wording of Admur ibid that he refers also to a case of father/daughter and hence the answer of Elya Raba is negated. The only option is to say Admur holds like Perisha. If correct, the ages given by Admur in 75/3 only relate to when other people are around and in regards to Shema. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol, as concludes the M”A ibid! In conclusion, it is completely unclear to me as how Admur rules regarding co-sleeping irrelevant of Shema and hence we cannot use the age given by Admur ibid to also learn regarding age for co-sleeping.    

[13] Girsa/interpretation of Rashi/Rif in Kiddushin ibid; Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema [however implies that may co-sleep even after this age, and on this the M”A ibid asked his question];

[14] Girsa/interpretation of Rosh in Keddushin ibid; Tur 21; Bach 21; M”A 73/2; M”B 72/3; See Chelkas Mechokeik 21/12 that Michaber E.H. ibid is being more stringent than Bach, not more lenient, however Bach ibid understands Michaber to rule like Rif

[15] Michaber E.H. ibid

From what age do signs of puberty count: Some Poskim rule it applies at any age, even prior to 11/12 years of age. [Implication of Michaber ibid; Chelkas Mechokeik 21/12; Beis Shmuel 21/15] Other Poskim rule it only applies once the child reaches the age of 11 for a girl and 12 for a boy and has grown two pubic hairs. [Michaber 73/3-4 and Admur 73/3 regarding Shema and implies that may co-sleep even past this age, and on this the M”A ibid asked his question]

[16] Michaber E.H. ibid

The reason: As once the child/mother is embarrassed it is a sign that the inclination has settled. [Kiddushin ibid, brought in Beis Yosef 21]

[17] Chelkas Mechokeik 21/12

[18] Pashut!

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?