North Maclean, Queensland
My wife and I showed affection and even kissed passionately in front of our children right up to our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary (five days before she died).
We decided early on we weren’t going to hide from our children the love and romance between us. We were careful to set the limit at kissing for obvious reasons, but didn’t want our children to grow up thinking that love between people was something to feel guilty about and that it should be hidden away.
Often when our children were little, they would want to get up and be in the middle of the cuddle and connection (which put a damper on the kisses but was still lovely). Friends noticed that because of this, our kids didn’t grow up with jealousy [issues] over [their] parents being close or try to get between us and pull us apart [compared to other children].
Our children are now 21, 19 and eight (yes it’s a big gap) and they were sometimes embarrassed, but they always knew their parents loved each other. They also were far more comfortable and less embarrassed by public shows of affection by others.
Our younger son (who is autistic) says it showed him what a good relationship looked like—his parents loved each other and backed each other up—although he was sometimes embarrassed as he got older because he felt that his being there was intruding.
Our little girl said, “We saw a movie at school and there was a kiss (not passionate, just on the lips) and most of the class was going ‘Oooh yuck’, but I thought Oh that’s sweet.”
Sydney, New South Wales
Kissing passionately in front of our kids isn’t something my husband and I have ever been comfortable with. Our daughters are aged three and one, and our eldest is very inquisitive. We like her to see us kiss on the lips and showing affection with each other, because we think it is important for her to recognise different relationships people have in life, and to know that her mummy and daddy love each other.
Having said this, in the past year we have had to make a point that just mummies and daddies kiss on the lips and that everyone else kisses on the cheeks, as she started wanting to kiss everyone that she met on the lips!
I think it is important for kids to understand relationships and different types of relationships, but I have never been big on kissing in public, and for that reason, I am not a fan of kissing passionately in front of our kids. I think this is a concept that requires some level of maturity to completely understand, which toddlers certainly don’t have!
There is just no place for passionate kissing in a little person’s world, so I don’t consider it necessary. Kissing passionately is something that is extremely personal between my husband and I, and it’s not something I need my children witnessing.
I think there are plenty of other ways you can teach young children about the different relationships, and this is how we are handling it with our toddler (and eventually our youngest too). One day they will witness this—just not from us.
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