The Alabama-based Deal family has gone mega-viral for documenting their co-sleeping arrangement.
"I think Southern parenting is just completely different than Northern parenting," dad Brandon told Insider.
His daughter McKenzi, 12, who is deaf, said the arrangement makes her feel "safer."
Last week, Brandon Deal — the patriarch of the Alabama-based family vlogging channel The Deal Family — took to TikTok to share their status as a "co-sleeping family," and break down the logistics.
Brandon, who is married to Meagan — and who has two daughters: McKenzi, 12, and Sarah Grace, 6 — all sleep in the same bedroom, he explained. While Sarah Grace shares a king-sized bed with her parents, McKenzi sleeps on an adjoining, twin-sized cot at the foot of their bed.
In the clip, which has 5.2 million views, McKenzi, who is deaf, explained why she prefers the arrangement. "It just feels a little safer," she said.
This is not the first time The Deal Family, who have 2.5 million followers on TikTok, have discussed their co-sleeping layout. Since roughly 2020, the family has posted several videos, generating millions of views. But the couple recently told Insider that it's simply a "regional" practice common in their neck of the woods, and they were shocked to discover after going viral that it isn't the national norm.
"I think Southern parenting is just completely different than Northern parenting," Brandon said. He and Meagan both grew up in co-sleeping homes themselves.
While they've received a fair amount of support, they have also answered skeptics who say they are encouraging separation anxiety or codependency.
"I always thought that kids just did that because all of my friends slept with their parents off and on," Meagan said, adding that her family "didn't do it necessarily every single night."
'I'm shocked that so many people have not heard about it'
Celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, Kourtney Kardashian, and Ice-T and Coco Austin have all sparked debate about co-sleeping with their children aged 7 to 11. A pediatrician previously told Insider that co-sleeping should never occur before 12 months (due to the increased risk of SIDS and suffocation) and should cease at prepuberty.
For the Deals, the arrangement came about organically. Brandon has said that McKenzi was a high-risk baby and he was often away in the military when she was born, leaving mom and daughter to sleep together. At 3, McKenzi began to lose her hearing, and she transitioned to the cot at 10.
"She tells us now at nighttime, she already can't hear," Brandon said. "She doesn't want to be able to not hear or not see anybody."
McKenzi and Sarah have their own bedrooms, the couple told Insider, and McKenzi has frequently attempted to sleep in her own room over the years. "But then she always makes her way back in here," Meagan said.
Today, as they've discussed implementing various safety tools — such as a fire alarm system designed for the deaf — they believe she's closer than ever to taking the leap. "We've been talking about it a lot more," Meagan told Insider. "I don't know at what point but it's definitely coming."
The Deals say they've gotten both support and derision on social media. "That separation anxiety is going to be intense!" one viewer wrote on their most recent video, while another suggested the arrangement could foster "codependency."
"As a child I know how safe it feels to sleep with your parents," a third commenter shared, "but as a married woman I realize how important it is to not let my kids sleep w us."
Meagan countered by saying McKenzi is "the most independent kid." They often "wake up on Saturday morning and McKenzi's already out of bed doing her own thing," Brandon added. "She's actually extremely outgoing."
Another frequently asked question is how the couple ever finds alone time. They said they go to sleep hours after their children and find privacy in other rooms.
"It's just so normal around here that I'm shocked that so many people have not heard about it," Meagan concluded.
Read the original article on Insider