Motherhood

Do You Kiss Your Children on the Lips?

mother kissing child

In our home…

Toby is eight and Anton is five, and I still smooch them on the mouth. I kiss their hands, their foreheads, the perfect curve where their cheeks meet their noses. As a toddler, whenever Anton slept in our bed, all sweaty and kicky, he would wake me up in the morning by kissing little pecks up my arm. (The sweetest!) And there’s no feeling I love more than walking down the sidewalk, extending my hand back and feeling a tiny hand reach up and grab it.

But I’m curious about others?

My friend, Sammy, who has two young daughters, recently sent me this email: “During my 2 a.m. insomnia, with Edie snoring in our room, I was thinking about the intimacy between parents and kids. My own practices, really, of kissing them on the lips, bathing together, rubbing bums together in the shower while listening to Bollywood music. I certainly didn’t do this with my mom when I was 4 or 7. I’ve learned more about the importance of touch as a parent than as a young adult navigating the world of grown-up relationships. It got me thinking about the taboos around intimacy with our children and how some people think kissing your child on the lips or bathing together is inappropriate after a certain age. That’s it, that’s all I have to say!”

Where do you fall on the spectrum of physical touch with your children?

Of course, I will always follow their lead and be sure they’re comfortable with kisses, hugs and hand-holding. (They’re the bosses of their bodies!) Have you heard this beautiful, beautiful passage from the book Little Fires Everywhere?

“Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she’d set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there was something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare — a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug — and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”

P.S. Naked babies at the beach, and who get the best kisses?

(Photo by Alain. Little Fires Everywhere excerpt from a reader named Nancy.)

  1. Sabrina says...

    My parents would kiss my sister and I on the lips when we were little, and at some point we switched to cheek kisses. My dad, who’s much taller than the rest of us, has always given kisses on the tops of our heads. It’s one of my favorite things and something that he’s done when we’re sick, before proms, dropping us off at college, and I’m sure he’ll always do :)

  2. Jessica Garrett says...

    I noticed that my 5 year old son stopped kissing me on the lips when I dropped him off for preschool. I asked him about it casually and he responded, dead pan, “Because it embarrasses me in front of my friends.” It stung. (We’re an incredibly affectionate family: kisses, cuddles, baths, etc.) But within moments I was so proud of him. He was honest about his body and his feelings and that is what I value….even more than kisses.

    We’re in the process of making up a secret handshake instead :)

  3. Katie says...

    When I was a kid I saw my Grandma once a year and every time we said goodbye she’d give me a kiss on the lips. It’s a beautiful memory of mine. I loved my Grandma more than anyone.

    • Jae says...

      So very beautiful for you to have known the value of your grandmothers love and affection😚

  4. Gwen says...

    I never had the kind of physical connection and closeness to my parents. They were loving and caring but traditions came first. I changed all of that with my three boys. We kiss on the lips, we cry, we hug, we snuggle, we hold hands. It is an incredible connection. My older two boys have started to only kids on the cheeks. My second boy who is 10 still likes to hold my hand. He says, “ I don’t care what my friends think because I love you.” My 2 year old is attached to us. He still longs for skin to skin. He gets giddy and excited when I come to bed with a tank top on because I can wrap my bare arms around him. He kisses and snuggles my arms and buried his chubby little face against my chest. It’s perfect. Never break with these traditions. It’s builds connectiveness and provides such comfort to my children. My almost 13 year old will sit super close to me, just to connect. He will just read and lean over to show me a smile. It brings me the kind of joy that is hard to replicate.

    • Jacklyn says...

      This is so beautiful that it made me cry a little thinking of my own son and how I hope to build a connection like this. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Louise says...

    I grew up in a family that wasn’t affectionate. My mom was really selfish and emotionally unstable and just messed up with us in loads of ways. All 3 kids are scarred to varying degrees from our childhoods because of parents who might have outwardly seemed to have it together but we’re just dysfunctional at home. No abuse or addiction or anything like that, just garden variety dysfunction. I’m not explaining this well. Anyway, when we became adults, out of the blue, my mom turned into a hugger and wanted to be really affectionate with us, patting us on the bum too. I hated it. I felt like she had missed her chance to be loving and she couldn’t just turn around and pretend we were all different now. I felt so resentful. She’s kind of aggressive about taking those hugs and patting us on the bum even when we tell her to stop. I know CoJ has talked about conveying the concept of consent to kids from a young age before. I think it’s so great for a kid to be “the boss of my own body” and I’ve implemented that with my own daughter. On the mouth kissing, it’s not something I do with my own two but it wasn’t a conscious decision. My youngest is 7 months and I guess his chubby cheeks and baby double chin are so deliciously perfect to kiss that I’ve never felt the desire to plant one on his lips!

  6. PPeters says...

    Both my husband and I kiss our 10 year old boy/girl twins on the mouth. And will likely continue this practice the rest of our lives. We also kiss our parents/siblings and various in laws on the mouth or cheek, whichever feels appropriate. Affection is not disgusting. We definitely hold off when we orcthey are sick!

  7. Sally says...

    My mum still kisses me on the lips, and I’m 34. :) Saying that though, it’s always her who initiates it. I’m not sure I would, but if she wants one, I’m more than happy to oblige. :)

    When I was a kid, I would also kiss my dad on the lips, but that sort of naturally stopped when I was maybe teenager-aged.

    I remember having baths with my mum, until I was maybe 7 or 8. I also had them with dad a few times. It wasn’t a big deal.

  8. Mel says...

    Yes I kiss my kids on the lips and my husband does not. Guess who gets more of their colds. I do, of course. #worthit

  9. Jamie says...

    I never kissed my parents on the lips, but I slept in my mom’s bed for years after my dad passed away. I was almost seven when he died. As an adult, I’ve come to realize that I was there for her as much as I was for me. We both needed that comfort and physical touch to make it through.

    My four year old has started kissing me on the lips recently. I was surprised the first time, but if that’s what he feels comfortable with, then it’s fine by me!

  10. Coralie says...

    I’m French and in France parents and kids DON’T kiss on the lips. I remember the first time I went to the US at 16 and saw the mother of my host family kiss her brother on the lips and was kind of shocked and did not understand what was happening hahaha
    But I get it, it’s typically a cultural thing. ;)

  11. CL says...

    I relate to this quote so much right now as I have a newborn daughter and she will not be put down. I have multiple baby carriers scattered throughout the house and one in my car just in case. As I type this, my husband has her in a Bjorn and it makes me really sad that one day, I’ll go all day without touching her. Makes me cherish this phase even more.

  12. Émilie Robertson says...

    This post struck a chord with me. I just became a mom four months ago, and I occasionally give my little guy kisses on the mouth. I always found it so sweet when I saw other families doing that, but it wasn’t a thing at my house. My parents both have Asperger’s, and my dad definitely struggles with displaying affection (although he’s always made it clear becoming a dad and granddad are the best things that ever happened to him). Because hugs are too intense for him, he does the French “bise” (a quick, mannered peck on each cheek), even with babies. Some people find it odd, but I think it’s sweet and very him. My mom, however, was very cuddly when my sister, my brother and I were young, and gave us tons of hugs and held our hands as long as we let her. I think it broke her heart a little when we eventually got too big and cool for such things, as we were the only people she felt comfortable enough with to be affectionate. She’s sick now, but that quote would likely have resonated with her.

  13. Sara says...

    My kids are 8 and 4, so roughly the same ages. One of each gender and I’m totally with you. We are very affectionate as a family and kiss on the lips, but if it ever came to a time that my children didn’t want that I would totally respect it. I’d be heartbroken, but I’d respect it.

  14. Katy says...

    Joanna, I feel like you read my mind. I was just thinking about this the other day. My brother and I always kissed our parents on the lips when we were little. But I also distinctly remember not wanting to anymore, and changing over to cheek kisses. Now I have a (very) little one of my own, and I kiss him on the lips…and cheeks and hands and forehead and toes. Of course I’ll respect his choices about kissing and being kissed as he grows. But for now, it’s kisses and snuggles and being a mommy pillow for as long as this time lasts.

    • Kate says...

      Oh my 7 year old still demands kisses on the lips but any displays of affection within 50 feet of his school is no no no. We hug and kiss on the cheek about 60 feet out and he walks in on his own. Heart bursting (for his independence) and heart breaking (for me) all at the same time.

  15. My 2.5 year old boy gives me 3 kisses everyday when he is living for school. One on the left cheek, one on the right cheek and a smooch on my lips. And everyday I feel a little paralised after this moment of love, intimacy and childs perception of it all. I have three kids, and he is the only one I exchange smooches with. It’s our thing and I have other “just us thing” with the other ones.

  16. krissy says...

    Not a parent, but I am someone’s kid (still at age 32) and we’re a family of mouth-kissers. It doesn’t seem weird to me at all and never has, it’s just a peck on the lips and a sweet little bit of intimacy reserved for my parents. In the past, I would feel a little judged kissing my pop in public but I’ve gotten over it. We’re an affectionate family in that way, it’s just who we are and I feel fortunate to share that level of intimacy with the ‘rents<3

  17. A says...

    Oh, that quote! It hits me in the heart. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have two kids: my 8yo is VERY affectionate and has been his whole life, always wanting to snuggle and hug and, yes, kiss on the lips. My 10yo was not super snuggly as a baby and now as a tween even less so. I was recently told to stop giving out a cheek kiss at bedtime (“I’m done with bedtime snuggles, Mom”) and any hugs I get are increasingly rare. It is so hard on me! I worry that the 10yo will see me snuggling with the 8yo all the time (reading a book, drawing a picture, chatting) and feel less loved. Even though of course I SAY “I love you” all the time and express it in nonphysical ways, like spending time together. Watching them grow up and away is so tough…

  18. That is such a beautiful quote. And so true.

  19. Jessica says...

    My family was very affectionate with hugs, cheek/forehead kisses, hand holding, cuddling, saying “I love you”, etc. but lip kissing was never a thing. I remember seeing my aunt kiss my cousins on the lips and was appalled by it as a little kid. It has always seemed like it was more for the adult than the child and maybe that’s why it’s troubling to me.

  20. Carmen says...

    Affection and touching yes, but kissing on the lips has always been reserved for lovers/spouses here. I think it’s a bit inappropriate to kiss kids and parents on the lips (never seen it either actually) as I consider it intimate/sexual/romantic, like touching bare bottoms would be. Clearly not everyone thinks this way. 😉

  21. HRS says...

    This is a different way to come at the kissing on lips question, but for many years now I have turned my lips away from babies or kids. I love them, I get close to them, but I usually land kisses somewhere on the head instead of the face. The same goes for adults most of the time, I turn my cheek so that they can kiss me there or we can do a Euro air kiss sort of thing. This was an unconscious reflex for so long that I thought about it. I remembered sitting at the dinner table one evening as a teenager and noticing that my Dad had a cold sore on his lip. I got those too, and always had. My mother knew about them, a doctor diagnosed it, not a big deal. When I noticed that my father had one the realization hit me. I had likely contracted it from him when I was a baby. People might say that’s obvious, but I really never thought about tracking it. It was just an issue I lived with (and live with, in slightly more disruptive ways, now). I do not have kids yet, but I am pregnant with our first now. I do now know how I am going to adapt my behavior, if at all, in cuddling and bonding with my child. Perhaps I am more aware of the implications of spreading other things through kisses than my father was. I am not anxious about it, because there may be no good way to prevent the inevitable. But maybe just this knowledge of myself can prevent the transmission of a virus.

  22. kate says...

    Before I had kids, I thought kissing them on the lips would be weird, but of course now I have kids, it seems totally natural. My now 14 yo daughter has grown out of it, but my 12 year old son still kisses me good night on the lips. It’s so sweet, a kiss on the cheek almost seems impersonal!

  23. Jessica says...

    Ohh :'( that quote about learning to live without your child’s touch broke my heart. Recently, when I lie down next to my 15 month old daughter, she will gently stroke my face and hair, kiss my forehead and whisper “mama” in a soothing tone. I live for her chubby-armed hugs and how she’ll lean against me when she’s shy. I don’t think I CAN live without it. I’m crying.

    • Jo Alice says...

      I feel you! ❤

  24. Rose says...

    I’m 30 years old and still kiss my parents on the lips! My grandparents always kissed my parents on the lips too… it’s the only way I’ve ever known. A lot of my friends think I’m a freak but I don’t care.

    • Nathalie says...

      Hi Rose
      I’m 39 and still kiss my dad on the lips :) It never felt weird to me obviously.
      On the other end, my partner has never even hugged his dad, they shake hands which always cracks me up! Love is there of course but just not in the affectionate kind of way.
      I’m Italian and he’s Irish so maybe it’s a cultural thing.
      I have a 3 year old daughter and we both kiss her on the lips :)

    • Rachel says...

      I do this too and am 33!

    • Melissa says...

      Same and I’m 35. I kissed (most of) my grandparents on the lips too, and also do it with my two boys! It’s always felt so much more natural that way.

  25. Kristin says...

    My almost 13 year old daughter kisses ME on the lips! Especially when she’s saying goodbye, if she’s off to school or out with her friends (in front of her friends even). It’s just a peck, and it’s a quirk of hers that I quite enjoy.

  26. Ellen A. says...

    What gorgeous comments! I am crying reading all these descriptions of the love between mothers (fathers too) and their children. I have two small children and I often get caught up in all the challenges and forget to appreciate the snuggles! Thanks for reminding me to treasure all the sweet touches. And just to weigh in, I occasionally kiss my kids on the lips, but I usually let them lead with their preference.

  27. Annie says...

    I’m 31, my mom is in her 70s now and she’s been single for 20 years. I get lots of cuddles and affection from my husband and dog, but I’m mindful of the fact that that my mom doesn’t get a lot of that. I kiss her cheek and hold her hand when we walk down the street, and cuddle up to her when we watch TV. It’s not just for her, its for both of us. I know how lucky I am to have her.

    She also COMES IN TO THE CHANGEROOM with me 100% of the time we go shopping. I laugh my butt off as she says “how does the waist fit?” “turn around?”, etc. but she doesn’t seem to notice or care.

  28. Jennifer says...

    I’ve phased out of lip kissing our two boys, ages 4 and 8, (but relished it when they were newborns – those perfect little lips!). But I definitely haven’t phased out physical touch – I love to hug, kiss cheeks, hold hands, and cuddle with them often. With boys, I have to get it in while I still can! Sometimes when I’m cooking, I’ll look over and see them on the couch reading or watching a movie, and I’ll pause what I’m doing and go kiss and squeeze them until I’m shooed away.

  29. Nina says...

    I have snuggled and kissed all my children for as long as they have allowed me to. My oldest, almost 10, stopped allowing kissing, lips or cheek even, at about age 8. The other two (5 and 7) still allow it and encourage it. It’s nice to read that other parents do the same! Physical touch is so important to children’s growth and even parents well-being!

  30. Emily says...

    My husband and I kiss our two sweet boys (2 and 4) on the lips. My parents don’t really kiss me or my brother–usually just a hug–but I always found it so endearing and close when I saw other kids doing that with their parents. I’m sure eventually it will morph into kisses on the cheek if they’ll allow it. Some days they ask for more than others, which tells me they also feel the safe connection of my love through that kind of closeness. We also give each other kisses on our palms to keep in our pockets if we’re missing each other through out the day if we’re apart (Thank you to The Kissing Hand book!).

    I’m torn when it comes to which age we “should stop bathing with our children and kissing them on the lips”. For my kids, they seem to be more accepting of differences and not quick to shame each other when we’ve seen how different we are and have open communication about that. I wish my parents had been more physical with me and had given me that secure feeling of love and showed me that they were the open arms to go to as an adolescent rather than seek that out somewhere else.

    For me, being close physically with my children also nurtures our emotional closeness. Since becoming a mother, I’m blown away with the direct correlation. Sometimes when my 4 year old wants to snuggle me for a while he will pull down the neck of my shirt just enough so his cheek can fully rest on my skin. As if the millimeter fabric barrier is just too great a distance in that moment.

    • Nicole Parker says...

      Ah yes… sometimes that millimeter is live-giving, isn’t it?

  31. Clelia says...

    I grew up in a very physically affectionate family and still (at 40) kiss my mother on the lips. With my children, I haven’t started kissing them on the lips (funnily enough I think of a brief lip peck as something you do with older children!) But I literally cannot get enough of kissing my kids. My favorite thing with my older son (who is a little more than 2.5) is to do a ‘family hug’ with my husband – we all three hug and then both my husband and I each kiss all over opposite sides of his face simultaneously. My son absolutely loves it! I can actually feel how loved it makes him feel, which brings me great joy. We have a new baby as of a few months ago and we have been trying to do family hugs often to help him feel secure. One funny note is that I do a facilitated playgroup near where I live (NYC’s Upper East Side) and many of the other parents are more conservative. None of them shower or bathe with their children (which we do almost every day) and apparently don’t spend much time naked or skin to skin with their children. Our family has apparently been dubbed ‘the naked family’s by this group ;-)

    • This resonated with me because I grew up in a house with fewer bathrooms than most of my friends. Bathing together or—as we got older—brushing our teeth while another family member peed or took a shower next to us was necessary and normal. I used to shower after my dad and would often hop in as he was toweling off. Now that I’m 31, my parents told me how they waited for one of us three kids to become uncomfortable with this, but it was all we knew. I used to feel ashamed when friends acted like it was weird or implied that our nudity was necessarily sexually charged—because of course, it was not.

      Now my husband and I kiss both our children on the lips and do occasionally bathe with them (even though it’s not at all necessary). Our daughter asks for “a hundred kisses” which means smooching her on the lips as many times as we can until we tire out. We oblige, of course!

  32. Emily says...

    My husband and I both kiss our 5 year old son on the lips, although we ran into a weird thing at daycare. When one of us would kiss him goodbye another kid would say something along the lines of “only mommies and daddies kiss on the lips” and I honestly didn’t know how to handle it!! I had no idea what to say (to the kid or to our son) and was pretty frustrated that they made it seem weird. This happened a few times with a few different kids, so I sadly stopped doing it at drop off because I didn’t want to embarrass our son. It made me think that not that many people do it, but reading this post has heartened my spirits. I love our affectionate little man!

  33. Andrea Jensen says...

    “…It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”

    This is the truth of life.
    I kiss my son on the lips from when he was a baby. He is 5 now and it’s the only kind of kiss he will accept and give. It’s also his form of showing love to anyone (I’ve seen him kiss his classmates on the lips when he wants to say goodbye). I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have also allowed myself to be physically as close to him as possible in all ways because I know there will come a day where another being will consume and take over his life and love. In the meantime now I am happily devouring all our physical contact.

  34. Joy says...

    As someone who did not grow up with a lot of affection, this rung close to home.

    I adore my children. I adore hugging them, and kissing them and stroking them and just hold them. My parents in law kiss my children on the mouth. I never did that as I did not grow up with that. But then I asked my (2,5 year old) daughter for a kiss once and she kissed me on the mouth. At first I was startled, but now I just let her take the lead (and she is happy to do that, ‘Now mom, you may kiss my feet’ ‘No the other foot!’ :P:P. I also feel it is very important to allow her space and show her that her body is hers. She is not a very physical person at all, and I do not force her to touch anything and anyone if she does not want that. If there are instances when she has to be touched (like at the dentist / GP or hairdresser) I prepare her for that as much as I can.

    But I am still sad physical attention does not come natural to me as I did not really grew up with it, and off the tendency I have to overthink it. Because on the few instances I give my daughter a hug she did not ask for, she is always happy to receive them. So sometimes I wonder if I hold back to much in trying to respect her boundaries. She is still so tiny! But I am trying the best I can and hopefully that will be enough and she will grow up feeling comfortable and safe with physical contact and knowing how loved she is.

    And at the same time I am enjoying that my son (5 months old) loves nothing more than snuggling (like really loves it, only now he is slowly appreciating his time ‘alone’ playing, but until recently he loved nothing more then being attached to me or his father 24/7).

  35. I absolutely love this!! I am a mother of 5 and I kiss every single one of those babies on the mouth. I grew up with my mom and gramma kissing me on mine so it is not out of the norm for me. They have been gone for over 12 years now and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish for another kiss. I created these beautiful creatures. I carried them, swaddled them, nursed them, cried with them. I will never stop showing that affection towards them. When each of them need it I will snuggle up to them and just hold them. They aren’t tiny in my arms like they used to be but they still have that perfect fit.

  36. katie says...

    This is a topic I’m struggling with a little from the other end of the spectrum… I wonder if anyone can help??
    My husband is the youngest only son, and his mother adores him. The older sister isn’t a very warm person, like the Dad, and the Mum has always relied on my husband not only for his company, but also I can see she’s always been very kissy cuddley with him. She actively makes him do girly things with her, always has, and and is negative about things he does that she perceives as very male. She still acts like he’s 10 years old.
    I’m the youngest daughter and I have two older brothers. My parents are very sweet and affectionate with me, so I totally get the bond, BUT my mother has always been very respectful of my brothers being male, she’s proud they are men now, and doesn’t emasculate them in front of others (my mother in law does this). But really, the issue is that my mother in law will come and sit between me and my husband. All the time. She hugs him or strokes his hair in front of us which really embarrasses him, the father, and if I’m honest, me too… My husband is 33.
    MIL has a grandson she sees regularly who she is close to, she’s not a lonely person, so I don’t think that this should still be an issue, I have a friend who has a similar problem with her mother in law. I’d like to understand what’s going on, and if anyone thinks this is going to go away, or if I’m stuck with this awkward situation indefinitely!?

    • Elizabeth says...

      YIKES.

      Any changes have to come from your husband. If you say something to your MIL, it will just cause resentment. He could be very relaxed about sending a message that this isn’t ok with him, like a joking, “alright, alright, Ma, give me room to breathe.” But your husband may not want anything to change with his mom, and if that’s the case, you’ll have to find a way to accept their relationship.

    • katie says...

      Thanks for your reply Elizabeth. He does push her away gently, and he will get up and move to sit by me, plus the Dad makes comments as he finds it odd. I can see how uncomfortable my husband is sometimes, and I feel she can too, but she does it anyway.
      I can’t really say anything to either of them, I just have to hope that eventually she will adjust to him being an adult now! Is it empty nest syndrome? Is she threatened she’s been replaced with me? It makes it hard for me to be around them sometimes.

    • Allison says...

      My mother-in-law behaved in a similar manner. She’s since been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and, to be honest, both my husband and I wish we had spent less time fretting about her awkward behaviour and just let her stroke his hair.

  37. Erin says...

    I read this as I’m laying in bed with my two children who are fast asleep. My five year daughter’s feet are across my stomach and my three year son is using my legs as a pillow, perfect timing!
    Both kids like to cuddle and we do kiss on the lips. Carrying a child during pregnancy creates an intimate bond, it certainly did with mine. Both kids nursed till past the one year mark and that further created a strong physical tie. I’m grateful for two sweet kids who want hugs, dance around in our big shower with me to Baby Shark and use me as a pillow. My daughter goes to Kindergarten this year and I know a shift may come. As my dad said when I first had her, “Parenting is the art of slowly letting go and helping them grow up.” So true and make me cherish all the hugs and kisses!

  38. A says...

    I have a 7.5 year old and a 1.5 year old (both girls) and I kiss them both on the lips and my husband does, too. I suppose we will keep that up as long as everyone is comfortable with it. My family is European and American and there’s much more tolerance for kissing on the lips and the cheeks and just general physical affection in Europe than in the US, I think. As for physical affection generally, my oldest is snuggly occasionally, but as a baby would do anything not to snuggle and it made me so sad. Her baby sister is a cuddler and has made up for it in spades. But big sister had a tough day at school today so we had a spa night with face masks and then took a shower together, which I’ve been doing since she was three or so, and tonight she hugged my naked body so tight. For a brief second I was worried that this wasn’t good or that it was strange somehow, but then she told me that my mimis (her holdover word for breasts from nursing) are warm and perfect and that she loves my tummy. There’s another reason to show our babies our own naked bodies beyond just and that’s to make sure that they’re comfortable with their own bodies. I’m glad that my daughters get to see their mother’s stretch marks and tummy. They’ll likely have them someday, too. And I hope that they have love and compassion for their own perfectly imperfect bodies.

  39. portia says...

    I’m sad for those who feel “icky” about kissing a child, parent, grandparent on the lips. It’s not a French Kiss, people! Whatever. I guess everyone needs to do what works for them. But don’t judge me when my 75 year old Dad kisses me on my 49 year old lips! HE’S MY DAD.
    And just remember this: There is always a LAST TIME you will do something. There was a “last time” I picked up my son and carried him. There was a “last time” I breastfed my daughter and didn’t realize she wouldn’t need that even one time more.
    There will be a last time you kiss your dad.

    Be gentle with each other. We all do things differently and some of us are doing something for the very last time and don’t even realize it. Bottom line, enjoy YOUR life. I’m off to kiss my 19 year old right on the lips now:)

    • Em says...

      Yes, there may be every reason to feel sad for those people (including me), because at least in my case that discomfort can be the result of childhood abuse and trauma. I would rather do almost anything else in the world than kiss the people in my highly dysfunctional and hurtful family on the lips. I realize life feels very different for those without the emotional and physical aftershocks of developmental trauma (and for those who’ve healed fully and developed an earned-secure attachment style — I’m about five years in now to the active processing and healing path, which has helped so much, though I still have a ways to go). If it’s safe, I’m sure physical affection in families must feel incredibly nourishing. When it’s forced and about meeting the parents’ unconscious needs while ignoring the child’s signals, autonomy, and boundaries, it is damaging. Thanks.

    • SL says...

      EM,

      I appreciate your comment. I too think it is really important to consider when encouraging lip kissing of what kind of boundaries you are setting for your child and are they really wanting the lip kisses or is it more for the satisfaction of the adult? Boundaries are SO important though and as a mother, I am SO all about affection with my kids but because I have been around a lot of sexual abuse, I encourage cheek kisses over lip kisses. MOre than anything because I don’t want my kids to think that lip kisses are appropriate with any adult who wants it. I want them to always know that lip kisses are sacred kisses meant for the right person one day and only when they feel like giving them. I never want my children to feel they have to give affection away for the satisfaction of needy adults who may also be predators. Just my personal opinion but one I think should be considered a little more and I’m actually surprised you are the only other person to bring up abuse and how children deserve the right to physical boundaries.

  40. Layne says...

    Love that you posted about this! I’m 25 and I still kiss my mom and grandmother on the lips!

  41. Carla says...

    Now that my son is 6, I had stopped kissing him on the lips, bathing together and standing in front of him in my underwear. However, I still hug him when we sleep and kiss his cheeks whenever. Someone told me to kiss and hug them as often as you can and don’t complain with them being clingy while they’re still young. Because at 10 years old, they’ll change and would no longer like those gestures.

  42. Bernie says...

    As I got older, I would often find that my mom had snuck into my bed; I would wake up and she would be snuggled up against me. When my dad was on business trips, my sister and I slept in my parents’ bed with her. Even now in my thirties, if my parents come to visit and my husband is away, my mom will come lay in bed and talk to me before we fall asleep. I used to think it was kind of odd but I didn’t mind it. Now, as a mother, I know that she was watching me grow away from her, and this was one of the ways she could still hold her baby.

    • M says...

      This was so sweet that it made me cry.

    • Carrie says...

      This made me cry also.

  43. Carrie says...

    Well sadly, I’m not a mommy yet, but for 3 years I lived with my sister her husband and their 4 boys. I kissed the younger 2 on the lips. The two older boys were about 5 and 3 when I moved in, but the younger was 1.5 and then the last was in his mommy’s tummy so I got to be with him from birth. I LOOOOVE those boys, i’m pretty much their second mom. Definitely don’t think it’s weird to kiss on the lips, but if you just listen to intuition you kinda know when it’s the right time to stop. Can’t wait until I have babies of my own to love and smooch!!

  44. Kissing your baby on the mouth can spread cavities so I would hesitate to do that. Plenty of other ways to show affection. (*I have no cavities, and a mother who I know loves me regardless of mouth-free kissing in my childhood)

    • Elizabeth O. says...

      I’m a dentist and while yes, kissing your baby can spread bacteria that cause cavities, this ranks basically zero on the list of factors of why kids get cavities (looking at you juice.) Heck, they’re going to get the bacteria from somewhere eventually and no amount of non-mouth kissing is going to stop that. I would say, LOVE YOUR KIDS however it works for you and them!!!!!!

  45. Caitlin Scott says...

    For people who do kiss their kids on the lips–I think the age when your kids become reluctant to kiss back is when they start thinking about kissing their peers :) I have an almost 2-year-old and I ask for lip kisses all the time. It makes my heart soar, and he loves to give them. When he isn’t in the mood, I don’t push it (thanks CoJ!). When the day comes that he stops wanting to kiss me on the lips, I will hide my broken heart and respect his wishes.

  46. My dad does mouth kisses as does my grandmother (his mom). I find it a bit odd as an adult but not creepy or anything. My mom barely even does cheek kisses, but will hug. I’m a big kisser! I love to shower my son with kisses. But I’ve never kissed him on the mouth (unless he turns abruptly, Haha). if he kissed me like that, whatever. I’m a happy mama with however he wants to show me affection.

    I think to act weird about it makes it weird. Human contact is important for our health and shouldn’t only come from romantic relationships.

    I love that passage by the way .. so true. Of course it’s natural and healthy to separate but sometimes the thought strikes me – “my God, one day he’ll be 30 and not curled up on my lap on the sofa.” But that makes this time even more precious. All there is is now.

    • Caitlin Scott says...

      “I think to act weird about it makes it weird. Human contact is important for our health and shouldn’t only come from romantic relationships.”

      Yes! Amen! There are many kinds of love, all unique, important, and deeply personal. Lip kissers or not–I don’t judge!

  47. I leave it completely up to my kids who are 5 and 7. Sometimes they want to be kissed, other times not – sometimes on the lips, but more often they prefer the cheek. My mom still likes to kiss us on the lips, and it’s personally not my preference, so I make sure my kids know that they can choose how and when they want to show affection. There are times when I’m snuggly and other times I’m not, and I know they are the same so I make sure they know that’s okay too.

  48. Katey says...

    Coming from the perspective of the child denied affection, let me add this. One of my profoundest memories is the day my dad stopped coming into my room to kiss me goodbye before he left for work. He traveled for work and wasn’t home Monday morning through Friday night. His absence definitely amplifies my feelings of rejection, but it is a profound memory because, the way I see it/feel it, he didn’t see me as his daughter any more. Not just his daughter. I had changed to some degree and was now something else. Which is true, I was probably just prepubescent, but regardless of my hormones or the changes my body was going through, I was his daughter and that, in a healthy family, should negate any blurry lines. Kissing your daughter on the forehead (we were never a lips-kissing family) only became creepy once my dad decided it was creepy and avoided it. I wonder what it would’ve been like to be raised in a family where affection (not abuse, mind you) between family members was never considered creepy.

    I have two daughters (5 mo and 3.5 years). I’m trying to navigate the joy of sensual experiences, too. That is the distinction I’m drawing right now. Sensual pleasures (eating, laughing, bathing, and with kids that means holding their naked bodies) are not inherently sexual. So the naked body time is a sensual pleasure, but it is not sexual, just like eating is a sensual pleasure but not sexual. I’m hoping to be brave enough to accept their tolerance for sensual pleasures without rejecting them and instilling a sense of wrongness about it. We’ll see how it goes.

    • jules says...

      Great share. I luxuriate in kissing, hugging and cuddling my four year old and telling him all the things I like and love about him. When he doesn’t feel like hugs, kisses or praise, I fall back and give him space. I grew up in a household where “acts of service” was the love language — the ONLY love language. I knew I was loved, I did not FEEL it. I believe that helped lead to a lot of issues with men that I’m still untangling. Touch is healing – this is proven by science. I am so grateful I get the gift of doing it better this time around.

  49. Emily R Hylden says...

    My very affectionate and physical two year old is into “huggies!” all the time right now. I’m in the midst of a sort of difficult pregnancy, so with every moan and groan or extra-long morning in bed, he’s always offering, “Huggies! Feel better, Momma?!?”
    During naps yesterday (we always nap together when I’m home for the day), he was starting to wake up and grabbed my arm to wrap all the way around him, with his eyes still closed <3 <3 <3
    And yes, we kiss on the lips. He won't kiss Daddy on the lips though — "too scratchy!" :)

  50. Laura says...

    Hahaha this makes me think about this scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8ghvVizwXc (TBH, everything makes me think of a scene from that movie…) I have three young boys and let them kiss me however they want to, which frequently is on the lips. I don’t know if it will last forever or if it’s only a matter of time before they recoil, so I try to enjoy it while I can!

  51. Tracie says...

    My sons are now 25 and 27; when they were little I kissed them on the lips – eventually that stopped, led by them, but I got kisses on the check and hugs and snuggles. My 25 yr old was called ‘my shadow’ because he was always ‘stuck’ to me. He slept with his father and I until…..much longer than he probably should have. When sitting on the couch, he always snuggled with me. As the years have gone by, the snuggles got less and less, the hugs almost non-existent, but every so often, he comes in and lays on my bed before bedtime to just talk (i’m single now). And when watching TV, he often throws his leg over my lap, :D, as a sign of affection. And whenever he senses that I’m having a bad day, he’ll give me a hug. The changes over the years have been appropriate for boys growing into men. But I will forever cherish those snuggles and the intimacy only a mother can have with her sons.

  52. Amy says...

    I still kiss my mom and dad on the lips! My husband thinks it is weird and I never really thought anything of it until he mentioned it. My parents don’t really kiss my other siblings on the lips, just me (I’m the baby, so I like to think I’m the favorite). I occasionally kiss my own kids on the lips, they’re 8 and 5, but I’ve found that I’m moving away from that and moving more to cheeks and foreheads as they get older.

  53. Starlene says...

    Mouth kisser here. I kiss my friends on the mouth, my kids, my sister. I don’t even think about it. My parents were very absent and not in the least bit affectionate.

    I have two adult children. My son (now 28) has always been a love bug. He never stopped kissing me goodbye at school, even when friends would tease him. He’d say “don’t tell me you don’t love your mom!” My daughter (now 31) has never been very affectionate even as a little one. Very recently she has been diagnosed with a pretty scary heart condition. She now holds my hand and hugs me and kisses my cheek all the time. I wish it wasn’t just because she’s scared, but I’ll take what I can get.

    • Katey says...

      It is amazing your son was able to say that to his friends! I wish I was that clear about my beliefs and feelings, even today. Pretty awesome.

      Best wishes for your daughter’s health and peace. Maybe it’s not because she’s scared that she is more affectionate; maybe it’s because she is grateful. Or both. And then some.

  54. tangerine says...

    All the time! I kiss my baby on the lips and will continue to do so! In fact my husband and I crave them. I don’t understand why people find it icky to kiss their own children, but have no problem kissing strangers.

    • Brooke says...

      This is exactly my thought!

  55. Erin M says...

    I distinctly remember kissing an older family friend on the lips and realizing that it wasn’t okay. His face was of total shock, and mine was probably stunned and then beet red. From then on I’ve always done the cheek kiss or air kiss when we hug.

  56. Ellen W. says...

    A few days before Christmas this year I was reading a bedtime story to my three year old daughter, and just like every night she was sitting in my lap. But she wasn’t just sitting- somehow she was simultaneously tangled up in my arms and legs while also lounging in my lap. I’m super affectionate with her- yes to kissing on the lips- and I love that we are a family of touching and hugging and physical intimacy. But in that moment I became aware of two things: 1) How temporary this intimacy likely is, and 2) the loss my mother must have felt as my sisters and I aged away from the time when we would smooch her soft belly or nuzzle into her legs or seek all our comfort from her body and touch. I was overwhelmed with a double sadness and longing on behalf of my mother and my future self. That night I wrote my mom a long letter thanking her for the comfort and closeness of her body when I was young. I told her what I now know- that while I stopped gifting her my body in return I know that our childhood connection is the reason my girl and I can curl up together so freely- at least for now. And I promised her more long hugs when we are together.

    • C says...

      How truly lovely ❤️
      As a person who did not grow up with affection shown I really hope this is how my children feel towards me when they get older. I love that you wrote her a letter!

    • Amy says...

      I teared up reading this. Beautiful.

  57. Sarah says...

    I have always found lip kissing from parent to child so gross. ESPECIALLY when it’s adults with adult children. Lips are for lovers, sorry.

  58. Jenny says...

    I rarely kiss my twin boys on the lips. I do smooch them pretty much every where else though, their heads, their sweet chubby cheeks, bellies, little handies (they’re almost two), and they sometimes give me little kisses which I love. I wouldn’t stop them kissing me on the mouth if they want and imagine it would phase out as they got older. Consent does cross my mind so if they ever say no or stop or would. While I have vague recollections of kissing my parents on the lips as a kid it stopped in late childhood and it would feel so weird for me to kiss my parents lips now, it’s not really the norm here in Ireland (for grown-up kids). We’re still affectionate (hugs and kisses on the cheek).

  59. B says...

    I very briefly nannied for a family that highly highly discouraged kissing their child for fear of transferring germs. Full term very healthy child. I’m always affectionate with the kids I watch, hugs, cuddling, kisses on cheeks noses and tops of heads. Fortunately there was a scheduling conflict and i work with a different family now. I was watched like a hawk. It’s hard not to kiss the top of a baby’s head!!! But I respected it of course and so glad it was a short relationship (for other reasons as well).

  60. Kari says...

    I did not grow up kissing family on the lips. Might have something to do with a story that my dad has told from when I was pretty young, maybe 5ish… My mother never missed a day of her afternoon soaps, namely the Young and Restless, so I often ended up watching with her. Apparently one day when my dad came home from work, just as we were watching Y&R, I greeted him by grabbing his face and giving him a kiss that must’ve been inspired by all the soaps I’d seen — kind of just mushed my lips around on his for a minute. Seems 5 yr old me had confused passionate soap opera kisses with parent kisses so I think we were cheek kissers from then on… ha!

  61. Katha says...

    I think I remember kissing my parents on the lips. But not when we stopped. Maybe they did it a similar way I’m doing ot with my kids. Never gave it much thought.
    We are a very physically affectionate family. Lots of kisses and hugs and cuddles. The kids kiss me on the mouth. I don’t mind at all but I guess I don’t do it myself.

    Three daughters here, ages 9, 6, and 3. They are oh so different.
    The oldest has been a hugger and kisser like we all are. It has gotten a little less as she turns older but it’s still there.
    But it’s nothing compared to her big little sister. She is so affectionate and full of love and expresses it both verbally and physically.
    The little one is special. She does not speak and is also very special in her behaviour. She might be on the autistic spectrum – we’re in the middle of finding out. But she likes to be kissed and cuddled, too. And she sleeps best with physical contact. But the sweetest thing she does is to put her nose on my nose and look me deep in the eyes. She does this with people close to her and I think this is her way of a “kiss”.

    On the side subject of nudity:
    Personally (as a German) I have no problem with nudity. The thought of not being naked around my family (husband and kids) is very strange. I remember groing up that at some point I dind’t want to be naked in front of my parents any more and that was totally respected. Me personally I don’t like being nude around strangers (like on the beach or at the lake) but I don’t mind others doing it. We have community showers and lockers at the swimming pool – no big deal.

  62. Bree says...

    I grew up in a family that always kissed on the lips. I’m 32 and still occasionally kiss my sisters/parents/grandparents on the lips. But nowadays, there’s a much larger focus on bodily autonomy among children, and I love it. I think giving children the choice to kiss/hug/touch starting at a young age sets them up for feeling empowered to say “no” to unwanted touches as they get older. As a mother of a 15-month-old boy, I give my son many, many! kisses/hugs/touches. In the back of my mind though, I’m always thinking, “he can’t consent to this; he doesn’t have the vocabulary to say ‘no’ to me yet.” I curious as to what age I will need to pull back and start by asking for his consent.

  63. Kate says...

    I remember starting to swerve my parents’ mouth kisses around 10. Haha. Sorry mom and dad! They never really said anything about it. I’ve noticed in the last year or so (I’m 24) my mom has started going for them again. I dont really mind anymore :) I hold my parents’ hands in public while walking or shopping all the time. Sometimes my dad and I get weird looks but whatever. One day he’ll be an old man and no one will blink, but I don’t want to wait for that time to let him know I love him.

  64. Sarah says...

    My triplets were born at 33 weeks, and spent 37 days in the NICU. The hospital had a strict policy against kissing babies on the mouth, to lower the risk of infection and passing germs. It KILLED me to hold my incredible 3lb babies and not kiss them on the mouth. I never understood kissing your kids on the mouth until I had my own babies. Now that they’re older (14 months), they are thrilled to kiss Mama. I love their sticky wet little mouths and the grin that takes over the moment the kiss is gone.

  65. Sonia says...

    When i was pregnant with my now 8 yo son, my partner read (somewhere, not sure where) that the bacteria which live inside our mouths and which cause tooth decay are passed from adult to child via kissing. That kind of put us off kissing on the mouth. My 6yo daughter loves to smooch however and has caught me off guard numerous times!

  66. Stephanie says...

    My daughter has sensory processing disorder, and before I ever knew that I always followed her cues. She has never been huge on hugs or kisses but loves to be carried around (a different sensory experience).
    I ask her for hugs, and if she says no I let it go. I give her gentle pecks on the cheek when she seems willing. Those times when she runs up to kiss me on the mouth or to give me a huge hard hug are the best moments of my life.

    When she is afraid she wants to be held, and she will pat ME on the back as if to reassure ME. And it does.

    • Sharon says...

      XOXO. So sweet.

    • tmercí says...

      Unabashed team mouth kisses :). I grew up with a very affectionate family and still kiss my parents and relatives on the mouth. It was just such a normal thing, that I didn’t realize others felt otherwise until my husband. His family is much less affectionate and therefore was shocked when my well meaning aunt kissed him. Interestingly, we both mouth kiss our kids 5, 3, 2. We do discuss consent, and if they don’t want a kiss or don’t want to give a kiss/hug/etc that is their choice. My middle sweetie is so affectionate and effusive with is love. My oldest and youngest are a bit less so, which has led to some difficult conversations/hurt feelings with our parents that we don’t make our kids hug/kiss (they do have to show respect in some way: hand shake, high five).

  67. Cindy D says...

    I have an 11 yr old boy and an 8 yr old boy. Both husband and I still kiss them on the lips. They also still sometimes see me naked, though I try to keep that limited now. I remember doing it with my parents until I got to be a teen, probably I think my dad stopped it a bit earlier though.

  68. Kissing Miser says...

    My honest feeling is that I feel icky seeing family members kiss on the mouth. I guess it’s NBD when your children are kids, but as they age, doesn’t that blur a very uncomfortable line differentiating a family kiss and a romantic kiss? Because from the outside, I can’t tell the difference and it gives me the skeevies. Save lips for romantic kisses!

    • Rachel says...

      Glad to see this because I feel the same!

    • Amy says...

      Isn’t the difference in the feeling? Do you feel the same hugging a friend vs a family member vs a romantic partner? When you say “I love you” to your mom, does it blur lines because you also say it to a lover? I don’t think it’s that complicated!

    • J.O. says...

      Thank god you said it. I’m scrolling through these comments wondering why on earth I’m in the minority here. I think kissing family on the lips is bizarre. Kissing on the mouth is sexualized behavior, whether or not all these mouth kissers want to admit it or not. Many of these comments are truly disturbing to me. (“I kiss my parents on the lips even though my brothers and sisters don’t…” “I crave kissing my baby on the mouth…”) Good God! Boundaries, people, BOUNDARIES!!!

    • Kate says...

      Gosh, J.O., hopefully you can deal with your ‘icky’ feelings as an adult and simply turn away. Personal relationships are just that, ‘personal’, and the beautiful thing about boundaries, is that everyone has their own. If a loving, and appropriate-for-them kiss brings joy to a child and their loved one, with respect, I believe that trumps you feeling grossed out. Each to their own!

  69. Nina says...

    My son is 11. Recently, I’ve felt a little awkward when he goes to kiss me on my lips. PLUS he always licks his lips before and yuck, no one wants wet smooshy lips on theirs. so…he asked me about it and I was like “um sorry.” I try to remember to hug him as much as possible knowing soon, he won’t even want that. And when he wants to crawl into my bed (really?!!! you’re 11) I know soon he won’t want that either so I try to relish it but he’s almost as tall as me now and with him and his 100 lb dog, I’m squished out and can’t even get more then a corner of the sheet to cover me. The other day we were sitting on the couch and he put his arm around my neck and it felt – interesting. Since he’s getting as tall as me it was such a different feel – warm and snuggly. Since he was young, he would rub his lips on my arm as he fell asleep and he still does that…It’s so strange as your child ages…my mind and heart see him as the tiny infant he was and marvels at the adult he is becoming and while I feel so proud of who he is, I also am a bit sad. stay small my breath, my heart, my boy I want to say sometimes.

    • Megan says...

      > stay small my breath, my heart, my boy I want to say sometimes.

      I think this all the time with my three-year-old and eight-month-old boys. Someday they won’t want to cuddle me anymore and that thought breaks my heart. We still kiss on the lips sometimes, but it’s always kid-initiated. I usually lean in for a kiss on the cheek or forehead or belly!

  70. Andrea says...

    My kids (4 and almost 7) have mostly transitioned out of being mouth kissers, but there were lots of kisses everywhere when they were tiny. My younger one will still do it sometimes, and very occasionally my older one. We never made it a big deal or talked about it – they’ve just mostly moved over to cheeks.

  71. Rachel says...

    It’s so funny. I use to think it quiet inappropriate to kiss your kids on the lips. But had friends who did it with their kids ( each to their own ) but then also I felt such a huge fear and pressure to instill in my first son you know all ‘that stuff’ to keep him safe and understand privately parts and inappropriate touch etc etc… tho both my partner and I still bath with them. Now tho with my second he just naturally comes and kisses me on the lips – mouth closed and I can’t resist to share in the sweet moment! It’s funny, I can’t explain it. Tho with my eldest who I no longer breast feed he seems to gaze ever so lovingly at my boobs – which makes me feel like I shouldn’t bath with him any more or need to cover up but then I bet if he could he would still breast feed happily ha ha ha…

  72. Karen T. says...

    Oh man, this one got me. We used to kiss the boys on the lips but they are now almost 13 and 16 years old and even just a half side hug thrills this mama.

  73. Alice says...

    I don’t, but I don’t know why not. It’s not something I’ve really examined.

    He bites my face, which I think he believes is a kiss – it feels affectionate – for now.

  74. Melissa says...

    Before I was a mum my self I did find it strange when parents kissed there children on the mouth but now that I have a beautiful little son whom sees his mother and father kiss on the mouth he obviously wants to show his love the same way. And he also very often wakes us up with a kiss on the cheek, one for mummy, one for daddy, it’s so sweet!

  75. Anonymous says...

    I never got much physical affection as a child, and I definitely feel that it has impacted my adult relationships. However, now that I am a mother, all I want is to snuggle, kiss, and squeeze my little one. Throughout my life my ability to express my affection for another human being has been so clumsy and uncomfortable, but now that there’s this wonderful child in my life, I feel “opened”.

    What a gift!

  76. Celine says...

    A BIG No-No here. Kisses on the lips are lovers’ priviledge.

  77. Lucy says...

    Have always kissed my mum on the lips! My brother doesn’t, not sure when that ended. I’m 27 btw!

  78. Ruby says...

    My husband and I kiss our 3 year old son about a thousand times a day each. He’s so affectionate and loving back. Were always teaching him consent though. We’re British, I’m Indian too and it really isn’t a big deal here culturally to kiss your kids.

  79. Laura C. says...

    I did, but now I’m trying to do it less. My daughters are 8 and 5, and I am CONSTANTLY kissing them everywhere- but now I try to skip thier lips because I prefer to let them know that lip kissing is something very intimate. When my eldest was two, my husband’s brother wanted to kiss her on her lips and I went nuts. Plus, he’s a smoker. He tried to minimize the fact but since that moment I started to tell my girl that lip kissing is very intimate and is something she should do with someone very close to her, and when she’ll be grown up.

  80. Kim says...

    Unrelated, but is CoJ running Google ads now? Feels weird to have ads about college degrees, rando property launches and so forth wedged between your posts coz it kinda ruins the carefully curated, aspirational aesthetic you guys worked so hard to create and maintain all these years. It breaks up the flow of the posts and feels really jarring and in-your-face. I get that the site needs to make money in order to keep producing the good stuff here, but wasn’t that what spon con was about? At least the spon con was always thoughtful and aligned perfectly with your target demographic’s interests.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for your note, kim! we are trying them out (yesterday was the first day — good eye!) and still tweaking them and getting them right. please bear with us while we work out the kinks! thank you so much. xo

  81. Jb says...

    For some people, sadly this form of affection -( specifically kissing on the lips) has crossed over into abuse (aka has been one form among many ways they have been abused by older family members). So as a topic this will be triggering content for some. I’m not suggesting that this affection alone is abuse but in a certain context it has been for some people. I guess something to be conscious of _ that it may not be a positive thing for some people.

  82. Grace says...

    So interesting because in Korean culture seeing my mom’s body naked and her seeing mine has never been a thing EVER. Yes, even now. We share a dressing room when we try on clothes and I recently asked her if my B cup breasts were in fact C cups like the Victoria Secret consultant deemed me, ha! I only ever thought it was weird when my non-Asian friends told me they didn’t do the same. Even as an adult, I’m super physical with her and often go to Korean saunas where all the ladies are naked. Idk, nudity just hasn’t ever been a thing and I think that’s why a peck on the lips or laying my bed in her lap is still just second nature.

  83. Hannah says...

    I didn’t grow up in a very physically affectionate household (I actually remember the first time I hugged a school friend and… I didn’t know how to do it!!!) but I give hugs and kisses very liberally to my kids and husband. We don’t kiss our kids on the mouth and once I was holding my then-one year old son, who was watching me and my husband giving each other a kiss on the lips. My son then turned to me with his eyes closed and mouth open, waiting to be kissed back. Sometimes if I go for a kiss on his cheek, he turns his face so that my kiss lands on his mouth instead. I let my no-mouth kissing policy slide on those occasions ;)

  84. Lana says...

    My son has autism and many people with autism dislike physical affection. Soon after he turned 2 we noticed he was less affectionate. He stopped hugging and kissing me and seemed to be distressed by physical affection. I was grieving as I watched him regress and slip away from me and the world. He’s 3yo and he’s gained back some of the skills he regressed in. These days he often runs up and hugs me and looks at me and says, “I love you”. He’s also kissing us again. My husband and I find so much joy in it – we do Peter Rabbit kisses, butterfly kisses, kitty cat kisses, dinosaur kisses, and the list goes on. In a way, it was as if I had a glimpse into what it might be like to lose his kisses. My world is a better place with his kisses, and it means everything to me that he too can experience and enjoy that love and affection as well. I am so grateful he can experience that same burst of warmth and joy other children experience when their parents kiss them.

    • Samantha says...

      This is so lovely! Your son is so blessed to have you as parents

  85. Kristie says...

    I kiss my baby on the lips and all over her squishy adorable face, little birds pecks, and I blow raspberries on her neck! It’s the most delightful thing, and she kisses me, mostly with a little nip (with her new front teeth) on the tip of my nose! She will melt in anticipation of a kiss attack, and oh my heart, it melts too.

  86. Jessica says...

    what a great post. We are definitely a lip kissing family. My babies are both under the age of 3 and all of the affections they show are wet, slobbery and often include snot. Even still I have yet to wipe away even the wettest of their kisses. While it’s often a little gross the way they show their love is so innocent and special and I would be devastated if I started to let a little snot get in the way of that.

  87. heather says...

    I echo some of the comments on here. No kids yet. I think I remember a lip peck growing up until I reached high school — or the age where I was kissing boys, anyways. My mom’s side of the family are all lip kisser – 3 quick pecks. Seems to stem from my grandparents on that side… I find that kind of endearing.

  88. Jen says...

    I’m actually surprised no one has mentioned this given how common it is among the general population. I see nothing wrong with mouth kisses as long as everyone is okay with them… AS LONG AS you don’t have cold sores, bc that’s one way children can get them. I also think it’s really important you don’t allow other grownups or adults kiss your kids on the lips for that same reason.

  89. Chris says...

    I can appreciate the sentiments, but kissing on the mouth between family members in any configuration makes me quite uncomfortable to imagine for myself or witness with others. Amazing how subjective these things really are.

  90. Victoria says...

    For my boys, 12 & 14, the amazing dance together in the kitchen, absent-minded shoulder patting or hand holding (mine) when telling a story, flopping on my bed when I’m there because they don’t want to go to sleep yet, the standing, long hug in the morning because they’re really tired and don’t want to make their lunches, or a million other little ways big boys still allow physical touch from their mom… I. love. every. second, every. time.

  91. Kelli says...

    I didn’t grow up in an affectionate house, and as an adult, it always feels a little odd to hug or kiss my parents. I love them, no doubt, but there’s just a barrier there that I can’t unbuild. However, with my 5 year old daughter, my husband and I both kiss her on the mouth (and her cheeks and forehead and the curve where her nose meets her forehead, and the little space behind her ears..). Because of this article, I had a moment today – like – oh, I wonder if she doesn’t like us kissing her like that. She’s pretty outspoken and part of me felt like she’d tell us, but I also wanted to give her the space to say whether or not she was okay with it – so I asked. Her response: OF COURSE I LIKE IT!

  92. Sooz says...

    I have two boys as well and my older son (5) gets infinity kisses all over everyday, but my little guy (2) has very strict rules about how and when he is touched. He’s pretty much always up for hand holding but will offer you a cheek or say “no lips mommy” if you ask for kisses.

  93. Danielle says...

    I kiss my kids on the mouth (3 and 1 ) all day everyday. I didn’t grow up in an affectionate home but never thought twice about smooching my own kids. When I was pregnant all I wished for were little snugglebums and I got two of them so I’m hugging, kissing. and hand holding all day. Before becoming a mother I hadn’t realized how wonderfully intimate the mother child relationship is.

  94. Laura says...

    I mean, kissing my kids on the lips is the closest I’ll ever be able to come to actually EATING them so yes, 100x every day.

    • Kristie says...

      YES!

    • Martini says...

      Oh my God, Laura. I’m dyin’ here. My feelings exactly.
      My Father always kissed us on our faces and we adored it. When we were grown adults with children of our own he would still hold our hands when we’d cross streets.
      I would blow kisses to my daughter and she’d catch them and either put it in her pocket or rub it on her heart. I’ve been loved.

    • Emilee says...

      I love this, and agree wholeheartedly!

    • Carrie says...

      hahaha too cute!!

    • A says...

      YES! I have often said that the reason for having my own children is so that I can nibble on them all that I want (as long as they want it, too, obvs).

  95. Lauren says...

    My sweet three year old daughter loves grabbing our faces and doing what my husband and I refer to as “Pope kisses”- kiss on the left cheek, kiss on the right cheek, kiss on the forehead.

  96. Lindsey says...

    Funny, this just came up at our house a month or so ago when my daughter (8) had a total meltdown. She was exhausted and emotional and having trouble calming down and all she wanted to was to take a bath with me. (I take one every night)
    I thought she was too old but she was so fragile that I let her climb in and she rested on my chest and poured palmfuls of water on her back and she almost fell asleep. I’m so glad I didn’t say no in fear of her being too old – it was precious and it may never happen again.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, lindsey, i’m in tears! that’s so beautiful, and what a tender moment.

    • Danielle says...

      I love this.

    • Sarah says...

      Good job, mama

    • Eliza says...

      This is so beautiful!!

    • Nina says...

      so beautiful

    • Jess. says...

      The very picture of motherhood. xox

    • Anita says...

      Lindsey, that is such a special moment – something I think your daughter will remember and something that meant a lot to you too! I found your comment to be so heartwarming and made my breath catch a little in my chest. I lost my mother a few months after I turned 14 but even at that age, she would always let me stick my feet into her hot bath, which she also took every night. She’d have a glass of red wine and we’d chat. I know it’s not the exact same as what you shared, but getting to always have that time to decompress with her (even though it was probably HER decompression time!! Whoops!) was very special and I cherish those memories. Thanks for sharing your moment with your daughter with us COJ readers. So special! XO!

    • Kara says...

      So lovely, I’m crying♥️

    • Lindsey says...

      It was so lovely to see that this moment touched you all too. Thanks for the love.

  97. Kim says...

    I love that book so much. I’m putting it back in the TBR pile! I have a soon-to-be five year old and a three year old and I am already worrying about how our affection will change! It’s not hard for me to remember that a short while ago, they were actually dancing around inside of me, and occasionally giving soft kicks to my bladder. And then in the fourth trimester, I basically wore them all the time. With my oldest, I’d rock him in a chair while he slept on me for hours! I wouldn’t even go to the bathroom. It’s amazing to think what we did for our little firstborn back then.

    So it goes without saying, we kiss on the mouth. My daughter, who is three, will walk past me and kiss my arm as she goes. We’re all very affectionate but they control their bodies. They know how to politely decline, or firmly say No.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “My daughter, who is three, will walk past me and kiss my arm as she goes.” = these comments are killing me! so sweet.

  98. hf says...

    This passage = instant tears. This is me and my daughter. She is 6 and I have to remind myself, when I am sometimes feeling a little over-touched, that she will likely one day just breeze past me on her way out the door, with hardly a glance.

    I have already happily, willingly, knowingly touched her more than my mother ever did me, and I know I always will.

  99. E. says...

    The first time I saw kids and parents kiss on the lips was when I came to the U.S. as an exchange student, and it made me super uncomfortable. I thought it was the weirdest thing that my host parents kissed their teenage daughters on the lips, and I still can’t get used to the idea at all.

  100. Lane says...

    I am loving reading these comments. So much so that I wanna go wake my babies up and give them a big old smooch right on their little mouths. But I’m not insane, so I won’t wake the babies.

  101. Lindsey says...

    Just dropping into say that that quote is heart wrenching. I often think about how I will survive when I don’t have my sweet, sticky toddler hugging me, climbing on me, open-mouth-kissing me, occasionally biting me, and forever requesting to come “bop” (up) on my hip.

  102. Avigail says...

    Totally a kid lip kisser!!! My husband and I were both raised that way- both from eastern european homes. Not sure if it’s cultural but my American friends have always made comments about how weird it is. I’m an adult with 2 kids and my mom STILL kisses me on the lips. I have to say I think it’s a little gross but in general when she hugs and kisses me, I get a little cringey since I grew out of it as a child. Not sure when my kids will cringe, but when they do I will have to stop. Can we also discuss kissing bottoms after the bath?! Not sure when to stop that completely but I rarely do it to my 5 year old son anymore.

  103. rach says...

    i sure do!!

  104. Phoebe says...

    Oh wow — that quote. My 10-month-old is sound asleep in her crib but now I need to go rock her and get as many snuggles as I can!

  105. My son is currently 2.5, so he is intensely, wonderfully physical in his affection. He wants kisses on the lips, smooches on the cheeks, raspberries on the belly, hands held, and more, every moment of the day. (Though he has recently started telling me “that kiss was too wet, Mama,” which always cracks me up because his kisses are SO wet, though I try to just very respectfully respond, “okay, thanks for telling me, I’ll make it less wet next time.”)

    What surprised me was how much the physical affection that came with parenting a toddler made me more aware of touching my own parents. I’m suddenly so conscious of the fact that they once cuddled me and carried me and smelled my head and kissed my toes and stroked my shoulder blades the same way I do with my son now. And now they don’t get to do that anymore, because I’m an adult. It’s made me much more likely, when I do see them, to give them long hugs, or lean against them while watching a movie, or just reach out and squeeze their hands for no reason. Because what an ache it will be, I now realize, to grow into that physical distance between parent and child.

    • Kristie says...

      I love your comment Katharine, and I too have thought of how bittersweet it must be to have grown children who hardly seem to need you. My relationship with my mum is in a renaissance since having my own little baby, even though we live far away- I am finally understanding her, and she is able to be my guide once more.

    • Jenny says...

      Oh I totally agree Katharine. Since I’ve had my twin boys (almost two now) I totally see my parents in a new light and make more of an effort to be affectionate with my mum especially, giving her hugs etc, and she gives our boys lots of cuddles. I always think of how much I Iove to cuddle and squeeze my little boys and that yearning must never leave you even as they grow up. Actually I was at the doctors recently and there was only one seat. A mum sat down and her (maybe 11 yo) boy sat on her knee and she gave him a squeeze and her face just beamed. I’m sure I’ll be the same as my boys get older, delighting in any chance I get to give them a cuddle.

    • Emily says...

      Yes to this. I’m blubbering over here and unable to come up with anything articulate, so thank you for putting it into words for me.

    • Kara says...

      Totally agree, I’ve been the same with my parents since I’ve had kids!

  106. Sarina says...

    Once when my son was 4, I kissed his cheek and he brushed it away with his hand. His dad said “Are you wiping off your mom’s kiss?” Wisely, he said “No, I’m rubbing it in.”

    • Allison Leedie says...

      This is amazing!

  107. Ceciel says...

    Oh that passage! I hadn’t read it before and the last line—devour it, sink your teeth into it. Made my heart ache for the growing up my littles (10 on Thursday!, 7, and 4) are doing.

  108. Ann says...

    Our 3 year old daughter gives my husband and I a kiss every morning as we go out the door for work, usually with hands grasping the sides of our faces and pulling us close. My favorite kiss to witness of the day is the one she shares with her nanny at the end of the day when we get home from work. Nahla gives her 2 kisses on the cheek, and then grabs ‘Auntie’s’ cheeks and pulls her in for an on the mouth kiss. Sometimes Auntie dodges and it lands on a cheek or chin, but sometimes it’s on the mouth and the look on Nahla’s face is one of victory. At first, our nanny felt uncomfortable with kissing Nahla on the mouth, but now it’s become a delightful ritual, and one that I love because it shows how happy they are together all day.

  109. Ivy says...

    My perspective comes from an adult who did grow up in a lip-kissing family. I always felt at some point it should have transitioned to a cheek kiss because to me, the lip kiss was reserved for sloppy moments with boyfriends only. I guess I got to an age where it was hard for me to feel comfortable putting my lips on my parents’ when I knew exactly where they had been…

    Important to mention – I’ve never been super cuddly. My mom forced hugs and kisses on me when they made me uncomfortable and it made me really grow to dislike them. That being said, I can see I’d want to do that with my young children, but would move it to a cheek kiss at some point. (Though I have no kids of my own, so this is entirely hypothetical.)

    • Anna says...

      I echo this – I grew up in a family where we kissed on the lips, but when I started having my own relationships, it felt too weird, especially when my parents would try to kiss me in front of my boyfriend. For this reason, I don’t kiss my son on the lips.

  110. Elise says...

    I have two little boys and I will kiss them on the lips just as long as they let me! I craved physical touch as a child (which I did not get from my biological mother) and now that I’ve become a mother, I’ve found it is a huge part of how I show love to my children.

  111. Sharon says...

    I am 36 and still kiss my dad on the lips. Nothing uncomfortable, just a parental peck. It’s just so much habit, I think he would feel hurt if it ever stopped! My mom passed away, but we were also very affectionate throughout my life, though ironically, I don’t think we kissed on the lips. We did snuggle, hug, hold hands, etc. I feel like it was all positive for me. (In fact, the feeling of my moms skin is one of the things I still miss 6 years after her death… sigh.) I’m naturally somewhat reserved, not a natural “hugger”, but I have found physical touch is definitely one of my “love languages.” I see it as so comforting to embrace a good friend or cuddle with my dogs. I also think it’s important to teach children that touch is not only sexual.

    • ne says...

      I love your entire comment!! and especially:
      I also think it’s important to teach children that touch is not only sexual.

    • Sharon says...

      Thank you NE! I love knowing my thoughts resonated with someone else ;-) it makes my day.

    • Lula says...

      YES! I completely agree with this, Sharon. The comments on this thread about how kisses on the lips are ‘sexual’ or ‘for lovers only’ are making me so sad! So many children don’t experience the comfort of touch. I smooch my daughter all the time (that’s what she calls it!) – she’s extremely affectionate. It’s such a huge part of our emotional bond.

  112. bisbee says...

    I have 2 boys (now they are men in their 40s). My older one was not a kisser when he was little…and I totally respected that, and told him he didn’t have to kiss anyone unless he wanted. Of course, this was when he was no longer a baby. I kissed him and his brother on the lips when they were little, but I did stop when the neared school age…didn’t stop kissing, just switched to other parts of them. I probably stopped walking around undressed around the same time…they became vocal about their privacy too. My grandchildren have followed the same general patterns.

    I didn’t come from a physically demonstrative family, so I made sure to break that pattern. I have a few friends, men and women, who give pecks on the lips…I follow suit, but a teeny bit reluctantly!

  113. Rachel says...

    Every time one of us leaves the house we have a big round of mouth kisses. Usually one of us is taking my 18 month old to school. First I’ll kiss my husband goodbye, then my son will kiss me goodbye, and then he will kiss my husband (who he is leaving with) just for good measure. I hope he never learns you don’t usually kiss the person who is driving you :) FWIW, I thought it was so weird before I had a child.

  114. Shannon says...

    I’m 30 and I kiss most of my immediate family members on the lips. When we all get together, we greet each other with a hug and a kiss on the lips. Only my closest family members: step dad, mom, grandpa, grandma. But I NEVER kiss my brothers. Too weird! haha. My husband and friends think it’s so weird but to me it makes sense. Like a tradition. Never thought it was odd until my husband mentioned it.

  115. Nicole says...

    Love this conversation! Some commenters touched on it, but can we have a post about family nudity (or lack thereof)? My husband and are negotiating this right now—I’m much more comfortable with it than he is!

    • MM says...

      I’d love a post on this too!! I am super comfortable with it, but I do question it as it was never something I grew up around and I’m not sure how I would have felt about it as a child.

    • Noelle says...

      Same thing in our family. I am constantly naked in front of our three girls and he prefers to be a bit more covered up. Luckily, it works for us – he respects my wishes and I respect his!

  116. I am 28 and still kiss my mom on the lips. I also have no problem with changing in front of her or she in front of me and I actually feel like something is off if I don’t kiss my mom on the lips when we say goodbye. I think it’s very special to share this level of intimacy with my mom and as an adult I feel like it’s helped me with being more open and not adverse to true intimacy with any level of relationship or friendship. I definitely feel like this level of affection shared between me and my mom contributes to my need for affection however I don’t see this as a negative. My cultural background doesn’t encourage physical public affection but I feel very lucky my parents were affectionate with my brother and I as well as eachother :)

  117. Christy says...

    My little bunny girl (4 years old) kisses me on the mouth, so I do the same. The first time she ever kissed me, she was just a few months old and she leaned in and put her open mouth on my cheek. She didn’t know how to do it yet so it was very slobbery, but it was clearly meant to be a kiss. I almost blacked out! One of THE sweetest things that’s ever happened to me!!

    • Lara says...

      Agreeed – Those first wet kisses are the best!