Parenting Debate: Is It OK to Kiss Your Kids on the Lips?
Tom Brady just suffered a massive career upset, but on social media, the way he shows affection for his family is causing an unrelated stir.
The Twitterverse is, at least momentarily, up in arms over a quick video clip of Brady kissing his ten-year-old son, Jack (mom is Brady’s ex Bridget Moynahan), on the lips.
“Can't a Father show some affection to his kid?” tweeted the account of talk radio host Don Imus. “You cynical, perverted bastards.”
Others have a different take: “I love the hell out of my son and give him big smooches all the time!” tweeted one sports writer. “It's just, he's two, and they aren't lingering mouth kisses while I am shirtless and getting a massage.”
But from a parenting perspective, should we set limits on lip-kissing our kids? Here, opposing experts mouth off.
Keep on kissing on
In defense of Victoria and David Beckham, who came under similar fire for kissing then-five-year-old daughter Harper on the lips in several once-controversial Insta-snaps, psychologist Samantha Rodman writes: “Parents do loads of things with kids that sexual partners will later do, e.g., backrub, bath, hugging, laying with them in their bed, holding them close and cuddling, and, yes, kissing them on the lips. Why is a backrub or a bath or a cuddle okay and a kiss is not? If you love someone, you’re physically close with them. If a kiss feels stimulating, so does tickling, backrubbing, head scratching, back scratching and everything else physical, including breastfeeding. The child can derive physical pleasure without this being inappropriate or strange.” Adds The Boston Globe’s Nick Osborne in defense of Brady: “What human wouldn’t fervently want to share love and affection with the fragile, all-too-mortal loved ones around us?...To be clear: a multimillionaire like Brady, building a media and fitness empire for his post-football career, deserves scrutiny and criticism. But father-son affection? Come on.
Post-toddlerhood, lips are off-limits
“I’m not against lip kissing because I think it’s incestuous,” writes columnist Anna Davies in the New York Post. “The real reason is because it’s just another example of how my generation of parents have made children the center of their world. To me, lip kissing implies a chosen love, whether it’s the intimate bisou between friends or a passionate moment with a partner. And for so many modern parents, this is what kids have become: Instead of children, they have been thrust into a position of parent contemporary, expected to handle the complex needs of adulthood. One of my friends tells her son that no one in the world will ever love him more than she does. She thinks it’s sweet; I think it’s a terrifying worldview for her son to have. How could you explore the concept of love if you think you’ve already experienced its apex at age 2?” Most experts agree that parental kisses should migrate from lips to cheek or forehead whenever the child indicates any discomfort. “Is there an inappropriate age? Of course!" Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry, a sex and relationship therapist told CNN’s HLN Network. "But that age differs from [child to child] and [parent to parent]. What’s important is that parents have created a space for their kids to speak up when things make them feel uncomfortable. It’s at this age that you start making changes in how you show affection."