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Showing affection in front of your kids

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

How much PDA is ok for your kids to see?

Some parents share a peck in the presence of their kiddos, but how much affection between parents is OK for your kids to really see?

Although you shouldn't make out in front of your little ones, a G-rated smooch that elicits a chorus of "ews" from your youngsters won't exactly scar them for life. From the benefits of setting a good example for a healthy, loving relationship to examples of appropriate PDA when your kids are around, learn how showing affection in front of your kids can do more good than harm — so long as you don't cross the line.

Set the standard

It's your job as parents to set a good example for a healthy, loving relationship for your children, and kissing in front of your kids is part of that love. "I think it is very important for parents to show affection in front of their children," advises licensed clinical social worker and outpatient therapist Amy Morin, LCSW. "Despite kids' protests that it's gross, witnessing physical affection between their parents reassures them that their parents love one another. It also helps teach kids about love, marriage and affection which can prepare them for their future relationships."

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Keep it PG

How much is too much? Knowing where to draw the line and when to lock the door are your best bets when it comes to kissing — and other adult-related activities — in front of children. So long as the PDA you're showing in front of your kids isn't sexual in nature, it's probably not going to scar them for life. “Be aware; there's a difference between casual affection and sexual behavior,” warns Dr. Cindy Bunin, a marriage and family therapist and child development specialist. “Going over the top will make your kids feel uncomfortable and confused. If the children see and hear love-making as a constant, they may think that that is what relationships are all about and may get involved prematurely in sexual relationships.”

Practice appropriate PDA

While a few choruses of "eeews" are to be expected when you kiss in front of your kids, you shouldn't feel pressured into toning it down when you're sticking to the rules. So long as you respect the differences between harmless displays of love and inappropriate physical affection, your children should actually witness these types of public displays of affection:

  • Give your partner plenty of hugs to let your kids know you love one another
  • Tell your hubby that you love him in front of your kids to reveal your feelings for one another, as well as demonstrate what open communication in a healthy relationship looks like
  • Deliver a peck on your spouse's lips or cheek, but keep the tongue action for behind closed doors
  • Hold hands often, whether at home or in public
  • Leave G-rated love notes for one another around the house
  • Pay your partner a compliment in front of your children
  • Cuddle on the couch while watching television, so long as you don't go beyond an embrace while junior is joining you
  • Slow dance in your living room, but let your kids cut in every once in a while

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While showing affection in front of your children is vital for helping your brood develop healthy relationships in their own future, you may find yourself with an overly-affectionate youngster on your hands. For those kids eager to plant a smooch on everyone from their friends to the mailman after seeing their own parents kissing in front of children, you may need to set some boundaries for your little one's affection toward others and take a good look at your own actions; it may be OK to kiss in front of your kids but you may want to tone it down a bit until your child's super sweet phase has passed!

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What's the appropriate amount of PDA in front of your children?

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