Kissing Your Child On the Lips.
We’ve all had those tumultuous friendships that hastily and most ferociously enter your life and just as quick as they came, they are gone. But, nonetheless, a mess is left in its wake. To spare you the details of the horrid friendships that happened in my life, which thankfully only happened once. I will tell you about one thing about them that still makes me shake my head in wonder and what led me to reflect upon my own parenting.
Or possibly just cringe at the audacity.
Mostly, it made me question an act that is completely and utterly normal in our everyday lives. First off, this is my disclaimer, this post is by no means meant to offend anyone, just merely a topic open for discussion and based upon an incident that happened to me. I grew up in a very old-fashioned family, with very traditional values. We were to wait until we were married, the roles of women and men were clearly defined and my upbringing was strict. My childhood was a happy one and I had loving parents who made me feel loved. They encouraged me when I needed it and were always supportive. Just what one would consider a “normal” upbringing. But, I say that with parenthesis because that is relative. Also, the mere reference to being brought up old-fashioned is simply that, a reference. Simply because if you know me well, you know that I don’t fit into a mold and I certainly do not like gender roles and have done everything possible to break them. One thing that I didn’t grow up with was being kissed on the lips by my parents.
Well, this brings me to this incident that happened when my eldest was a year old. I had met a younger couple, we’ll call them Donna and Simon. I hit it off with the girl and we began to hang out quite often, she introduced me to another girl, Amanda. We all became “good friends” and began to hang out a lot. They’d come over, I’d visit them, we’d go on road trips and day trips etc. At the time, I was the only one with a child and one day, Donna and Simon came over to visit. I was feeling a bit under the weather and not in the mood to go out so they decided to stop by instead. Upon arrival, Gabby greeted them happily as she had gotten to know them and recognized them. They picked her up and gave her a hug and next thing I know, Donna lands a big, sloppy kiss on her lips!
I was taken aback and quite shocked considering that the whole time that we had hung out, not once had they seen me kiss Gabby on the lips. What boggled my mind further was that Donna felt comfortable doing it having only been in our lives for less than a year. I was a bit grossed out as I am already a bit germaphobic, of this person kissing my baby. I don’t know where those lips have been or what they have done! At the time, I didn’t say anything and shrugged it off as an isolated event—I let it go. After letting it go once though, the next time she greeted her she did it again and this time, she was encouraging my daughter to do the same.
That is where I stepped in.
Let me tell you my position on this and why I’m even writing about it in the first place. My youngest daughter tries to sneak a kiss on the lips every once in a while and it makes me chuckle. I can’t help but think it’s adorable. I just tell her that Mommy and Daddy kiss on the lips but, you can kiss me on my cheek. She asks no questions but, still tries to copy us. It’s normal. Though a lot of what I learned in my upbringing has stayed with me, I think it is healthy for kids to see their parents showing each other affection. It shows them what a healthy relationship should be. Obviously within reason and affection is not just physical. It’s the small acts of affection, like making breakfast in bed, leaving a note, celebrating holidays etc. Anyway, my parents never kissed me on the lips. Their reasons were that it was only for husband and wives to kiss on the lips. Or another reason is that it might confuse them in the wrong ways. I’ve heard a wide variety of some really stupid reasons from old school Hispanic people who I simply don’t agree with and won’t divulge. But, that’s the gist of it. We just didn’t do it and since we never did, I thought nothing of it.
Now that I have two kids, I don’t kiss them on the lips. Why? My reason is because I feel that I would rather them reserve that for when they do find a significant other. It’s all I’ve known and I don’t feel that I’ve missed out not having had the latter. Not because I feel there is something wrong or sexual about it but, I do feel that in a small way it is an intimate though innocent act. Maybe it’s a bit of the way I was raised that rubbed off, who knows? But, I prefer to show my affection in other ways and I often gobble them up and kiss them on the cheeks, tummies, arms—almost everywhere else. Affection is also something that changes with age, while I’ll still attack my now 10-year-old in kisses, I don’t think she would like me doing that in public!
Let me say this though, I have absolutely NOTHING against people who choose to kiss their kids on the lips. If that’s the way you were taught, go for it. I’ve even met people like me who weren’t raised kissing kids on the lips and have started doing it when they had kids. It’s all in the manner you choose to show affection to YOUR kids. I do, however, have a problem when people kiss MY kids in the lips, especially when they know it’s something we don’t do! Haha, I only say that because, well, it happened!
Kissing your child on the lips, I think it’s just another tongue in cheek chapter in the unwritten book of parenting. It is a topic that I feel that will always have differing opinions that aren’t easily changed. However, I do think that people should respect other people’s parenting decisions and not judge the ones they don’t agree with. If there is no harm coming to that child, then mind your own business.
Heck, Jessica Alba was shocked that people DON’T kiss their kids in the mouth stating, “Really? Why? It’s your baby. People allow dogs to lick at their mouths.” Touché. But, honest-ly (pun intended), not the best comparison. I’ve never understood the appeal to letting a dog go at it but, to each their own, right?
Ultimately, I think that what it boils down to is that if your kids are loved–that’s all that matters, right?
Do you kiss your kids on the lips—why or why not? If so, did you stop at a certain age?
Spill it and let me know, til then—cheers m’deres!
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela and partner and best friend to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.