I have little doubt that the following information is new to everybody. I first heard about this particular debate a few days ago while perusing forums. The question was posed as, “Do you feel it’s wrong to kiss your kids on the lips?” Wow. Man, but there were some angry commentsout there. In fact, angry doesn’t even begin to touch the tone of some of the responses to that question.
You may be surprised, however, at what actually spurred the volatile responses.
The following is an excerpt from a post I found at “The Stir (A CafeMom Blog)”. The link to the actual article is here.
Dr. Charlotte Reznick, author of The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety Into Joy and Success, a child and educational psychologist, and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA, says she sees the downside of kissing your kids on the lips all too frequently.
“The answer is in your question,” Reznick said when asked for the perfect age. “If you start kissing your kids on the lips, when do you stop? It gets very confusing.”
She gives the example of a 6-year-old girl kissed on the lips by her father. It’s completely innocent on both sides, but when the girl goes to school and tries to kiss her classmates on the lips — equally innocently — she’s placed in the role of “sexual harasser.”
“As a child gets to 4 or 5 or 6 and their sexual awareness comes about (and some kids have an awareness earlier — as when we notice they start masturbating at 2 or 3 sometimes — they just discover their private parts and it feels good), the kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them,” Reznick explains.
“Even if that never occurs to a child, itÂ´s just too confusing! If mommy kisses daddy on the mouth and vice versa, what does that mean when I, a little girl or boy, kiss my parent on the mouth?
“If I had to answer when to stop kissing your kids on the lips, it would be now.”
As I said, I first came upon this information in a forum I visit frequently. And I mentioned that there were some angry responses to the question. But angry at what? Shockingly, the viewpoints ranged from “discomfort” at seeing a parent kiss their child on the lips to “disgust” at seeing this kind of affection. The overwhelming majority of responders supported the article and expressed their disbelief that some parents find it appropriate to show fondness for their children in this manner.
Okay. I take offense to this. Greatly.
Let me clarify. Obviously there is a great big world out there full of people with diverse thoughts and beliefs. Thank goodness for that. And there are people who believe that physical affection is not something to be overtly displayed, and that kissing is something that should be reserved between lovers. Okay. By the same token, there are also people who see no issue with kissing anyone you love and that the intention behind the kiss can and should vary greatly.
I fall into that camp. I kiss both my kids on the lips. I kiss my mom and dad on the lips. I have a certain hunky cousin that always greets with a smack on the kisser. I also kiss my husband. And every one of those kisses share one thing: the love behind it.
But my own personal opinion is just that: mine. And I firmly believe that we have the right to determine what is “appropriate” for our family. A kiss on the cheek shows no less love than a kiss on the lips, as long as the intent behind it is such. It’s a choice.
What really offends me in this specific scenario is the widely held disgust, on that specific forum (and others I’ve since read), that parents would find it acceptable to kiss their children on the mouths and somehow managed to turn the practice into something “dirty” and “abusive.”
I find it “dirty” that so many people jump to that conclusion. There is a very wide gap between showing affection and abuse. The fact that so many people bridged that gap and likened the two is a little disturbing to me. Obviously, abuse of children of any kind is abhorrent and despicable. I would never deign to defend anything of that nature. And, unfortunately, there are enough sick people in existence that it becomes a public responsibility to defend those who can’t defend themselves. I understand that completely. What I’m talking about is of an entirely different caliber.
The affection I show my children is nothing if not pure and respectful. And quite honestly, there is nothing that makes my cup runneth over faster than a big, fat, juicy kiss from the innocent lips of my children. Again, what bothers me is not that people may not agree with my choice. They are entitled. They are not, however, entitled to liken my choices to that of an abuser.
I would like to point out that Dr. Reznick, in the interview provided above, does not take her opinion to that base level. Her concern on the matter is more in regards to the “confusion” that kissing may cause your children. But her opinion most certainly has sparked an entirely different type of debate. It leaves me to wonder that perhaps my family and our chosen mode of affection is in the minority. Although, I’m not entirely sure how any parent who has witnessed firsthand the warm and plump lips on a child in the morning can resist them. I know I can’t.
I kiss my boys on the lips, and they’re 6 and 1. Honestly, when I kiss them like that, I stick my lips out really far and look like a fish, so I’m pretty sure they don’t confuse it with the way I kiss my hubby. I like to show affection to my kids, whether it’s a kiss, a hug, or just playing. It’s been proven that kids whose parents show them affection have a lesser rate of depression as they become teenagers, get into less trouble, and grow into better adults. For those who have a problem with me kissing my boys, they can kiss my @ss.
Well said, Tinker! 🙂
Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points says
My dad always gave a quick little big-pucker kiss on the lips. My mom would only kiss on the cheek. I remember an uncomfortable kiss-interchange with my mom (I would have been, what, five?) when her response to my attempt to kiss like I kissed dad resulted in a distasteful rejection. I do not think she handled that well, but I wonder now if that was her attempt to dissuade from the practice at all, which perhaps she did not like very much.
The quick lip kiss was the way my dad kissed his whole life, although I believe it was only the women in his life, I doubt he kissed my brothers much past their early early childhood and I’m certain he did not kiss men.
But I never thought anything of it other than some people kissed on the lips, and some people didn’t, and you did what you learned.
It seems to me that there are a lot of people who use quick-lip-kisses because that is how they learned to show affection, and yet there are NOT a lot of people who have bizarre boundary issues or descend into abuse.
Children should not kiss other children in school, period. It’s too confusing and possibly CAN lead to boundary issues, so whether or not the peck is on the lips or on the cheeks is immaterial.
These are people who have nothing better to think about, for Pete’s sake.
I think you hit the nail on the head Lori. It works for some…it doesn’t work for others. To each their own…but it’s not a capitol offense for those who think lip-smacking is a-okay! And, I agree, kids should keep their lips to themselves at school (and pretty much anywhere for that matter.) 🙂
Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points says
I dated some men who really needed to learn the “keep your lips to yourself” philosophy a lot more thoroughly…;)
Angelia Sims says
It’s kind of strange this was brought up. I usually kiss my mom and kids on the check (and my dads when they were living), but the little girls kiss on the lips (because that is how their mom kisses them). So, I started kissing them on the kisser as well (like you said – hard to turn it down). Saying bye to my mom on Saturday we kiss on the lips. And it is the super stretched out puckered lips. I think it’s sweet.
I distinctly remember playing kiss chase on the playground in 2nd grade. Guess kids don’t get to do that anymore, huh? I even got married to Michael Lemon. We wore matching silver jackets. See what happens when there are no forums or experts. LOL.
My kids started their kissing careers by kissing me on the lips. They still do. I figure if it begins to get creepy for either of us, we’ll switch to cheeks. I don’t care where they kiss me, as long as they do!
Um. I think the question of when to stop kissing your kids on the lips should be common sense. When they don’t want you to anymore. Duh. Kids will let you know when they become uncomfortable with something. I have three biological kids…19, 18 & 17. CJ, the oldest, has autism. If you ask him for a kiss he will give you either his cheek or the top of his head. Obviously, he does not want a lip kiss. And he’s able to express this even though he’s non verbal. Molly, our 18 year old has never liked lip kisses. She has always been a cheek or top of head kisser even at three. Sean our 17 year old is not a big kiss giver but when he does he still pecks me on the lips. No confusion. Definitely different than the way he kisses his girlfriends. We are all big huggers. Do you think some people are “disgusted” by that as well??
Frankly I’m appalled that anyone would read anything dirty or abusive into this show of affection. But then I’m appalled at people who don’t eat dinner together at a table as often as possible, or don’t know their children’s friends or what they’re doing online. It’s called being a family and a parent who’s responsive to their children. I guess Mindy, you’re just radical like me! And furthermore…I still kiss my mom, dad, sister, and nieces on the lips. Tons of other people get cheek kisses and hugs.
I don’t kiss my kids on the lips, but mostly because I’m mildly germaphobic and also like to avoid stickiness.
I don’t care if other people do though.
Very interesting subject. I can’t say I have ever really put any thought to it before. Now that I have…I’m not a kisser. I hug, my whole family are just huggers. The exchange between me and the grandkids is a big hug and tossle of the hair.
Spot is right..they will let you know. My oldest grandson (10) has just recently decided he is too old for those big hugs.
Mindee has me pegged, just the thought of slobbery kisses…NOPE, can’t do it. Making my tummy lurch just thinking about it.
BUT as far as kissing between parent and child, I can’t see how people can have such filthy minds to think it is wrong. I don’t think it is wrong, just not for me.
I am sorry but Puhleese! We have always kissed on the mouth. My brother was over forty when he passed and always gave me a smack on the mouth and said “I love you” . My nephew is 15 and still insists on a mouth smack. You just have to explain to your kids that they cant kiss just anyone on the mouth but there is nothing wrong or dirty about it. I am forty and my mom is almost 80 and I still give her a lip smooch. Keep on smooching I say!
I’m from a whole family of mouth kissers…Parents, sisters, even my brother in laws! It’s a quick peck and it’s done! I even kiss my FIL and MIL that way! And to think that some kids might be confused about who they can kiss seems silly to me! I never remember trying to kiss people I shouldn’t. If anything, I think the affection I received at home made me less likely to seek out inappropriate affection!
Now, honestly, it has taken 14 years to get to the kissing in-laws thing. However they have both been ill lately, and they both prompted it, and I gladly kissed them. I love them. I want them to know it. And, I’m glad they felt secure enough in my feelings for them to make themselves vulnerable to the lip smack!
Oh, but I DO have a grandma who NEVER NEVER NEVER lip kisses! EVER!!! It cracked me up when my kids were toddler and would try to kiss her! She was quite the skillful lip dodger! Now, they’ve caught on to not kiss her on the lips, but on the cheek, and I don’t think their little feelings were ever hurt, since everyone is treated the same…
Now, I’m through rambling. Obviously I DID have thoughts!
Stephanie Faris says
Wow…this is an interesting topic. I don’t have kids, so I don’t know how I’d feel about this. I am a stepmom and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it ever…it’s all in the intent. If it’s completely innocent, what could be wrong with it? But in my life, I personally prefer to keep mouth-kissing in any form in my romantic relationship only.
Some people have no ability to look at the world other than what they think is black and white. They think something is wrong so it should be wrong for everyone else. I agree with you Mindy. Everyone can make their own call on this. My daughter is 14 and I kiss her write on the ol’ smacker every day. I wouldn’t change that for anything!
The Lumberjack's Wife says
Very interesting! I haven’t given this much thought . . .I am not sure how I feel.
Wow, this is a very interesting post! I hadn’t thought about it. I used to kiss my kids on their lips and couldn’t begin to tell you when that changed…my guess is probably around ten or so. I come from a family of huggers…kissing was never big. Now, I’m going to be thinking about this all day!
I came from an affection withholding family – no kisses or hugs, ever. I am 52 now and I kiss my mother’s cheek and hug her and tell her I love her, but this is something I’ve had to teach her. My husband and I always kissed our three girls on the lips till they were probably teenagers. Not sure when it transitioned to cheeks but they are all grown and married now and two have children and we still kiss them on the cheeks when saying goodbye. And the grandkids get lots of kisses on the lips still. I’m sure they will let us know when they think they’re too old for this. The grandkids also get snuggled in an towel and a silly song from Nana after their baths. Funny fact – my MIL always tries to kiss my husband on the lips still and he’s 54. He has to do the lip dodge thing. But she never kissed our children on the lips and won’t kiss her great grandchildren on the lips.
Debbie – I’m hoping that’s what will happen with my kids as they grow, they’ll choose the type of affection they want to receive. Right now it’s smackers on the lips all around. And I can just imagine your poor husband veering right and left dodging his mom’s kiss…I used to have to do that with my grandpa. It’s very hard being subtle.. 🙂