Why I kiss my kids on the lips and I'm not planning to stop
Update: Since this piece was originally published, more celebrities have been slammed for posting picture of parent/child lip contact. Today, commenters are jumping all over Gwen Stefani. A couple of weeks ago it was Hilary Duff. Do better, humanity.
Once again, the judgmental masses are all up in arms over a simple kiss between a parent and child. This time it's Victoria Beckham who is in the firing line after posting a picture of her giving her 5-year-old daughter, Harper, a sweet kiss on the lips.
Just last year the Internet was all in a tizzy over the opinion of Dr. Charlotte Reznick, a child and educational psychologist and associate clinical professor of psychology at UCLA, who said you or your child might find kissing each other on the lips "overly stimulating."Yes, you read that right: According to an "expert," you should not kiss your child on the lips because all lip kissing is sexy.
Hey, moms: People are judging how you parent. If you feed your kid the wrong kind of lunch meat, you’re a bad mom. If you hover over your kid at the playground, you’re a bad mom. If you sit on the bench and look at your phone while your kid is on the monkey bars, you are still doing it all wrong.
You’re probably kissing your child wrong too. I know I am.
Reznick is an expert (and author of The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success), and she thinks lip kissing is confusing. Mommies and daddies kiss each other on the mouth. If we’re kissing our kids on the mouth, we need to stop.
Oh Char, please get a grip and stop trying to make every little thing dirty or about sex. I’m sure you have a super-fancy education with a bunch of super-fancy letters after your name on your super-fancy diplomas. But based on your so-called expert opinion about parent-child affection, I’m going to go with this:
You’re an expert in b.s. That’s right. Bulls***.
I have a 23-year-old daughter and two 5-year-old boys. I also have one 51-year-old husband, a 75-year-old father and a 74-year-old mother. I kiss them all on the mouth. I don’t find any of this kissing to be sexual or stimulating, except for my husband, and even then, only sometimes.
Yes, my kids see me kiss my husband on the mouth. They see us kiss hello and goodbye. They see us peck each other on the mouth during random moments of affection… the same as we do with them. None of it is sexual or stimulating. The thought that someone would label it as such is… well, disgusting.
I don’t make out with my husband in front of my kids or in front of anyone. I’d venture to guess most people don’t kiss their partner in that way in front of an audience. The kisses my two little boys give me are sloppy, sticky, peanut buttery… and freely given. They kiss me goodnight, they kiss me good morning and at random intervals I don’t try to make sense out of. And why would I? I have raised one child to adulthood, and I know full well that these are the golden days before my sweet little boys turn into surly tweens who will be embarrassed by my existence.
The kisses my grown daughter gives me are perfunctory, usually when we say hello or goodbye. These are different from the kisses I get from my little boys, but they are still mom kisses. The kisses I give my parents are the same kind of kiss. I am thankful that I’ve raised my daughter to adulthood and that she still wants to kiss me. It’s reaffirmation I didn’t suck at being her mom. I am grateful my parents are still around and that I still get to kiss them. I realize they won’t be around forever.
I will take all the lip kisses I can get.
This is how it’s done in our family. If that isn’t how it’s done in your family, rock on. I don’t claim to be an expert like Dr. Charlotte, so I’m not about to point my judgy little finger at the way other families choose to show affection.
In all seriousness, child sexual abuse is an awful thing. Parents have to be vigilant and aware. There are sick people out there that would hurt our children by touching them inappropriately if they had the chance.
But to try to make the parent-child bond and the way families express their love for one another into something filthy across the board? No.
I come from a family of lip kissers, and I’m proud of it. If anyone — expert or otherwise — wants to call that inappropriate, well… I have something else they can kiss.
Originally published July 2016. Updated January 2017.