This week I was floating around the Facebook Mommy groups I belong to looking for topics Moms are sharing and talking about. There was a share of a June 9, 2015 article from everydayfamily.com. It was entitled, At What Age Should You Stop Kissing Your Kids On The Lips? Before I read it, I thought to myself, this is going to be one of those articles that grabs your attention by the ridiculous question title and then goes on to dispel the whole issue. Boy, was I wrong.
This “article” cites two “experts.” The associate clinical professor of psychology from UCLA says the time to stop is NOW, as a kiss on the lips could be confusing to a child. At the very most, stop at age 5! What? And the other, a Proactive Parenting Coach, says the time to stop kissing on the lips is when either party feels uncomfortable. Again….huh? I’m so disturbed by this parenting advice. What the hell is wrong with people. Talk about psychology messing people up! Not to mention, how do people get published writing this kind of ridiculous stuff? How can someone take a pure form of affection between a parent and child and make it into something dirty? I just don’t get it.
Now to be fair, the article on everydayfamily.com was more of a regurgitation of quotes from the “experts,” with a pinch of the writers own vague opinion, which seemed to be either here nor there. It concluded with a “What do you think?” ending. So I looked into the online bio of the writer, a Mr. Jace Whatcott. The bio didn’t say whether Mr. Whatcott had children himself, although there was a photo of (I am assuming) him holding a child. But, I am inclined to think he actually may not have a child himself, as his writing didn’t have a parental tone. And his list of hobbies (crossword puzzles, reading, and naps!) made me think he has WAY to much time on his hands to be a parent. At least, a parent who parents. BAM! Yeah, I know, harsh.
Because I live under a very large Mommy rock, I didn’t know there was a huge to-do this past winter about the New England Patriots Coach, Bill Belichick, giving his 30 year old daughter a congratulatory kiss on the lips at the Super Bowl. Why would anyone feel that was inappropriate? Now, if there was tongue involved, I could see someone having issue. But a closed mouth kiss on the lips? I truly believe it says more about the critic than the kiss. Is there such a heightened eye on sexual abuse that we can’t discern between a non sexual intuitive act of affection and abuse?
I believe affection is oh so important to the development of a child into a healthy adult. And, of course, there is data to support that theory. Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that babies with very affectionate moms grew up to be “more resilient, less anxious adults.” At about the age of 34, the same individuals showered with love and kisses as babies in the study showed the lowest levels of distress as adults.
But beyond all the data you can find to support either school of thought, what about common sense? What about healthy instinctual affection between a parent and child, at any age? If I see a grown man or woman kissing either their father or mother on the lips or cheek or forehead or hand….I think it shows a healthy relationship with intimacy and affection. Kudos to the parent who taught their child to not be afraid of affection.
We are such an all or nothing society. Instead of teaching a child the shades and nuances of affection and the meanings of affection in different relationships, we would rather avoid the conversation all together and just say NO KISSING ON THE LIPS AFTER 5 YEARS OLD. Well, not this Mommy. Or Daddy, for that matter. My husband seems to have no problem showering our little O with kisses and hugs. I can’t imagine him having a problem with it even when O gets older. I see him kiss his mother on the lips and I think it’s lovely. To think anything weird about it would be…well, weird. I’m not worried about O being confused by our affection towards him. What any child might find confusing is the inappropriate subtext people attach to such an instinctual natural act. Children pick up on everything. Even our latent fears.