Kissing is one of the main ways that we show affection towards people that we care about.
But over the years it has become mostly associated with romantic relationships and other kissing can sometimes be looked down on by society.
This has left people wondering: is it okay for parents to kiss their child on the lips?
Several celebrities in Hollywood have also faced backlash for posting pictures in which they can be seen kissing their children on their lips.
Hilary Duff posted a photo on Instagram, kissing her son on his lips. One person wrote, “You should not kiss your son like that. There’s other ways to show love but not that one. It’s confusing for him, it’s not healthy.”
Victoria Beckham was also hit by a similar backlash after putting an Instagram picture in which she can be seen kissing her daughter Harper on her lips. Victoria also got a fair bit of abuse in the comments section.
One social media user wrote, “Eww sorry I’m old fashioned, it looks like they making out.”
Experts who say it is ok
Social etiquette expert Liz Brewer told BBC UK that while kissing a son or daughter on the lips is an “unusual practice,” it should be a parent’s choice whether they consider it appropriate or not. In many cultures, kissing on lips is not considered sexual, and is accepted as a platonic means of showing affection.
Research also suggests that intimacy between parents and children – hugging, tickling or kissing a child – has a positive effect on the child’s development.
Whether it is appropriate for you to kiss your child on their lips depends on you and your family dynamics, cultural norms, experience as well as perception of outward affection.
Experts who not encourage this
Psychotherapist Jennie Miller told the Daily Telegraph that she thinks there could be more to a kiss on the lips than parents may want to accept, suggesting something beyond platonic.
Psychologist Charlotte Reznick explained to news Australia that lips and mouth are personal boundaries. So, kissing a child on the lips may create an impression that anyone can intrude into their personal space and body. The child can also develop the inability to say no.
When do you stop?
Dr Reznick, an associate clinical professor of psychology at the University of California, thinks that kissing a child on their lips can be confusing for the kid, especially as they grow older. “If you start kissing your kids on the lips, when do you stop?” he told BBC UK.
Why sexualize this?
Experts also note that if you are finding this ‘sexual’, then you also need to question that why you are sexualizing this act, which the parent and child are themselves not sexualising. Your perception can also be a projection of your own issues with sexualization.
At the end of the day, the context and the comfort of the child is important. We need to accept that what’s normal in one family may not be normal for another family.