Psychologist warns parents to stop kissing their children on the lips

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By Phoebe Egoroff

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Public displays of affection - especially between parents and children - have been a hot topic over the past few years.

While kissing children on the lips is usually seen as a loving gesture - and is genuinely harmless - psychologist Dr. Charlotte Reznick argues that the simple act can actually do some damage to children and their development.

Firstly, Reznick says that kissing your children on the lips can affect a child's understanding of personal boundaries, something that she says are crucial to a child's healthy development.

Moreover, she also says that, as well as kissing a child on the lips, other intrusive practices like tight swaddling, force-feeding, and aggressive tickling send the message that their personal space is open to intrusion from others.

"If you start kissing your kids on the lips, when do you stop? It gets very confusing," Reznick told CafeMom. "As a child gets to 4 or 5 or 6 and their sexual awareness comes about (and some kids have an awareness earlier - as when we notice they start masturbating at 2 or 3 sometimes - they just discover their private parts and it feels good), the kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them."

She then adds: "Even if that never occurs to a child, it's just too confusing! If mommy kisses daddy on the mouth and vice versa, what does that mean when I, a little girl or boy, kiss my parent on the mouth?"

Though, not everyone agrees. Another psychologist, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, said that kissing children on the lips and showing affection is normal. "It's important that parents keep and maintain boundaries with their children, certainly, but in terms of expressing affection this feels within the realm of normal."

Many celebrities have come under fire for kissing their kids on the lips, however, including David and Victoria Beckham, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Hilary Duff, and Jessica Alba.

In fact, Kourtney opened up in an interview for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's Rose Inc. in 2020, discussing how she deals with criticism directed at her parenting style. She said one thing she would never apologize for was kissing her children on the lips, saying: "Once in a while, I may respond to a negative comment for fun, or if something really does bother me I definitely have the platform to correct it … but I usually don't think twice.

"No matter what it is that I am doing, someone has something to say, good or bad," she added. "The worst, though, is when people I don't know give unsolicited parenting advice. No one knows my kids better than me, I've got this, I'm good, thanks."

Gabrielle Union similarly had to defend herself after posting a photo of herself kissing her baby daughter on the lips. "I appreciate all the concern about kisses on the mouth and labored breathing, I am blessed enough to have a nurse here with us while at work [...] I don't even touch her without washing and sanitizing myself and everything and everyone that comes into contact with her," she said, via People.

What do you think? Is the criticism necessary or a case of taking it too far? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image credit: Westend61 GmbH / Alamy

Psychologist warns parents to stop kissing their children on the lips

vt-author-image

By Phoebe Egoroff

Article saved!Article saved!

Public displays of affection - especially between parents and children - have been a hot topic over the past few years.

While kissing children on the lips is usually seen as a loving gesture - and is genuinely harmless - psychologist Dr. Charlotte Reznick argues that the simple act can actually do some damage to children and their development.

Firstly, Reznick says that kissing your children on the lips can affect a child's understanding of personal boundaries, something that she says are crucial to a child's healthy development.

Moreover, she also says that, as well as kissing a child on the lips, other intrusive practices like tight swaddling, force-feeding, and aggressive tickling send the message that their personal space is open to intrusion from others.

"If you start kissing your kids on the lips, when do you stop? It gets very confusing," Reznick told CafeMom. "As a child gets to 4 or 5 or 6 and their sexual awareness comes about (and some kids have an awareness earlier - as when we notice they start masturbating at 2 or 3 sometimes - they just discover their private parts and it feels good), the kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them."

She then adds: "Even if that never occurs to a child, it's just too confusing! If mommy kisses daddy on the mouth and vice versa, what does that mean when I, a little girl or boy, kiss my parent on the mouth?"

Though, not everyone agrees. Another psychologist, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, said that kissing children on the lips and showing affection is normal. "It's important that parents keep and maintain boundaries with their children, certainly, but in terms of expressing affection this feels within the realm of normal."

Many celebrities have come under fire for kissing their kids on the lips, however, including David and Victoria Beckham, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Hilary Duff, and Jessica Alba.

In fact, Kourtney opened up in an interview for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's Rose Inc. in 2020, discussing how she deals with criticism directed at her parenting style. She said one thing she would never apologize for was kissing her children on the lips, saying: "Once in a while, I may respond to a negative comment for fun, or if something really does bother me I definitely have the platform to correct it … but I usually don't think twice.

"No matter what it is that I am doing, someone has something to say, good or bad," she added. "The worst, though, is when people I don't know give unsolicited parenting advice. No one knows my kids better than me, I've got this, I'm good, thanks."

Gabrielle Union similarly had to defend herself after posting a photo of herself kissing her baby daughter on the lips. "I appreciate all the concern about kisses on the mouth and labored breathing, I am blessed enough to have a nurse here with us while at work [...] I don't even touch her without washing and sanitizing myself and everything and everyone that comes into contact with her," she said, via People.

What do you think? Is the criticism necessary or a case of taking it too far? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image credit: Westend61 GmbH / Alamy