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. I am always surprised when people react negatively to parents kissing children on their lips. It is something we do in our family now and something I did as a kid. However, I can see that this is not the norm for some families. It goes back to not judging others and doing what is best/comfortable for your own family.

  2. Lourdes says...

    I didn’t grow up kissing my mom on the mouth. But my toddler LOVES to give me kisses on the mouth and I take them! I don’t feel comfortable (for sanitary reasons) for anyone else to kiss my son on the mouth. I also follow his lead and only kiss or as for kisses. I never guilt him into giving them.

  3. Midge says...

    My daughter instigated a whole kiss cycle with me, but not my husband, at age ten after a trip to Paris: two very French bises on both cheeks, followed by a smack on the lips. We were never kid-lip-kissers in our family, but she seems to need this and I am so curious how long it will last. It made me vaguely uncomfortable initially, but I think it makes her feel cosmopolitan as she sees middle school looming ahead. What’s fascinating to me is that she’ll initiate it anywhere when we say goodbye to each other, even at school in front of her friends. I mean, an eleven year old kissing her mom goodbye! In public! And so now it just fills me with a sweet transitory mom happiness.

    • Cait says...

      That makes me so happy. What a sweet, sophisticated thing to share. I like to imagine my 7 year old like that one day.

  4. Adriana says...

    I don’t have children of my own, but over time I’ve grown less squeamish about the thought of parents kissing their young children on the mouth. Recently, my niece was getting her face really close to mine, I thought it was sweet, but didn’t make much of it until I saw here do the same with her mom (my sister-in-law) who then proceeded to kiss her on the lips. I was moved and felt quite loved, knowing my young niece felt comfortable enough to request a peck from me. The next time she did this I obliged. I still feel odd navigating this physical closeness with kids who are not my own and might respond differently in future occasions; more in an aunt-ly way and less a motherly one. I think fostering healthy attitudes towards physical affection throughout our childhood can have a lasting impact on how we seek and give affection in the relationships we build as adults (both with our SO and children).

    • kate says...

      Gosh this is SUCH a lovely comment… Thank you!

  5. MissEm says...

    The first time I saw someone kiss their child on the lips was while watching my…third cousin (?) kiss her baby in my teens. I thought it was the most beautiful, intimate thing I’d ever seen. I admit that it also strikes me as really weird, but my kids have always kissed me on the lips and when I tried to move it to cheek kissing around 4 or 5 they would have none of that (they’re younger than 8).

  6. My mom was always a true believer of showering with her kid. Her thinking was that I should see her naked body in its entirety — sagging boobs and all — so that when she’s at an old age and needs taking care of, I won’t be scared to step up and bathe her. I love that philosophy, and I can’t wait to pass it on to my kids, regardless of their gender.

    When it comes to kissing your kids on the lips, I think it’s darling, especially when it’s a father and his son. I think it was in “Eat Pray Love,” where Javier Bardem kisses his son on the lips, and I thought it was the most endearing thing.

    • Jane says...

      Last night my daughter (3) grabbed my head and gave me a 3-4 second long kiss on the lips. Just a smooch. I had been gone for almost a week, and we were all relieved and happy and feeling like home again. I do not find it strange to kiss your children on the lips. I snuggle them in bed, wrap my legs around their little bodies. I remember my parents doing the same. Of course, if my kids don’t want a kiss, they don’t get one. And they think it’s hilarious to ask for a kiss and then wipe their lips afterward. There is nothing that makes affection inappropriate, and I think teaching your children what comfortable and consensual touch feels like is so incredibly important.

  7. Bekah says...

    I did not grow up in a kiss on the mouth family (lots of butterfly and Eskimo kisses though!). I can remember the unnerving excitement for my first real kiss because I had absolutely no concept of what that would feel like! Shortly after my very first kiss on the lips I was babysitting for a family that must have been a kiss on the mouth family because as I was leaving their sweet daughter runs up to tell me goodbye and kissed me right on the mouth! I can vividly remember thinking to myself “this little girl almost accidentally stole my first kiss!” Of course it was so innocent and sweet for her to show me that affection because that was normal in her house, but in the moment I felt so relieved my first kiss had come just days before! Now that I am much older of course my perception has changed and I realize how silly it was for me to feel that way, but to that
    oh so innocent, never been kissed on the lips fifteen year old, that was a big deal!

  8. Ing says...

    Mom of two boys here. ( 3yo and 6 months). I can’t get enough kisses! I’m fully aware that one day they won’t want to kiss ( or probably even hug) me so I’m taking full advantage while I can. My 3 year sometimes likes to give me ” big sloppy ones” and I gladly accept, unless he is covered in food or snot :-) He is giggly and pure and full of love. I’ve never thought twice about it, though reflecting on it now, some of the teachers at his daycare look at me funny when he gives me a kiss on the lips goodbye. I don’t care though!! Someday he’ll grow out of it….. and then I guess its time to have another baby. :-)

  9. I’ve been giving and getting kisses on the lips for my entire life — from my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sister… NEVER felt weird or sexual in nature; it’s just a peck on the mouth after all! No different than a peck on the cheek, and it’s just a part of saying “Hello!” (always) or “Goodbye!” (sometimes) in my family. I can of course see, reading these other comments, why it may not have been common or felt comfortable in some families, but given that it was common on BOTH sides of my family to give and get kisses on the lips, it never occurred to me that it might be viewed as odd! I mean, I kiss the majority of my closest girlfriends on the lips too!

    I think a lot of it is just how we grow up viewing KISSING in relation to affection. To me — and clearly my family — a peck on the lips is just not seen as an inherently sexual act.

    That said: I kiss my daughter on the lips, head, cheeks, arms, hands, feet, knees whenever given the chance. She’s 2.5 now and sometimes she says “No” which I 100% respect and abide by, but I still ask her if I can and occasionally go in for them, full “Kiss Monster” style! It’s actually been a great (and frequent) way of teaching about bodily autonomy and that “No means no.” She has LOTS of opportunities to say “No” to kisses and hugs and high fives, and we openly respect her wishes so she knows she can control that kind of interaction with others. Of course, when she was a very wee baby, it was no holds barred for kisses — she was smothered in them all day, every day! Now her baby brother is due any week now, and goodness do I look forward to being able to give unfettered baby kisses again! :)

  10. D says...

    I don’t come from a kissing on the lips family but I was a nanny for a family who was. Three of the six children I took care of from birth. They all went through a stage where they had no hesitation in kissing me on the lips to say goodbye or before a nap. Initially it took me by surprise but it seemed much weirder to make a big deal about it. I think the first time their mom was present and she thought it was sweet but also offered to say something if I would rather not. It was something that was pretty foreign to me but in the moment I found to be sweet and endearing. If they offered a kiss I accepted it. There certainly was an age where they grew out of it- where there is a clear distinction between family and everyone else.

  11. Amy says...

    I’m surprised how many people are using judgmental language about this. Great time to use the “fine for you, not for me,” people!

    As for me, I didn’t kiss my parents on the mouth growing up, but now my husband and I both kiss our kids (3yo girl, 5yo boy) on the mouth. It felt so normal when they were babies and then we never stopped! My kids definitely go in for the mouth kiss, and if I kiss their cheek or forehead (like if I have a cold), they seem distressed!

    Once, at his preK, I kissed my son goodbye and another boy said, “Ew, why did you kiss him on the mouth?” I just smiled and shrugged, as it didn’t seem to register w/ my son. Next time I picked him up, I let him “steer” where the kiss ended up and he went for the lips, so I guess he’s still young enough not to care about what other kids think of him kissing his mama!

    My 3yo gets really aggressive w/ the kisses – she grabs my face w/ two hands and pulls me in at bedtime, and I love it!

  12. Melissa says...

    I read that passage and my heart ached immediately for my own mother. Now that I have kids of my own I finally understand the intimacy between parents and children and how it changes as our children get older. It makes me cherish the cuddles with my own babies and I always make sure to hug and cuddle with my mom during visits now (I’m 43, she’s 72) and we both like the connection.

  13. Jikl says...

    My daughter is like Pearl. We adopted her when she was 2 days old. I’ll never forget those first nights together when she looked up at me with her big brown eyes that knew I was her mom. From that moment on she was my shadow. She held on to the back of my dress for years wherever we went like we were attached. Now that she is 14, she wants to be with me but she doesn’t want me to touch her. I respect her boundaries but boy, my heart just breaks every time I ask her if I can give her a hug and she says no. I know she will come back around eventually. Parenting just crushes you sometimes.

    • Katie says...

      awwww same here. my girls turning 13 and she isn’t as keen on physical connection right now and I’m dying inside a little. She hasn’t realized that we are still side snuggling when we watch movies on the sofa together yet so I’m really into movies on the sofa with her these days.

  14. Hannah says...

    I grew up in a family that did not show much physical affection and was very intent to change that with my daughter. Kisses get planted almost everywhere, including little pecks on the lips! The biggest kisser in the family is my fiancé (my daughter’s very beloved stepfather who rejects the title of “step” due to his intense devotion to her) who chases us around giggling, to shower us with little kisses. We wanted affection to be normalised and a daily part of our life. So much so, that at our wedding ceremony NEXT WEEK we are having a three-way family kiss, after the big bride and groom kiss moment. During the rehearsal, our daughter questioned “why is no one kissing me?!?” So we added it in.

    • Amy says...

      That is so sweet!

    • Danielle says...

      I thought of this too!

  15. Taylor says...

    I have a 4 month old son and rarely give him mouth kisses (but relish in kissing all over those sweet cheeks and head). Every once in a while my husband will kiss him on the mouth and say “Tom Brady kiss!”

  16. Emily says...

    I had always heard never kiss babies, so when I had my own I was almost taken aback when my husband would kiss him on the lips. And then I realized, he’s MY baby and I can kiss him if I want to! So even at almost 2.5, he receives multiple kisses from “Honey” as he calls me (not Momma). And he gives them, too, and when he does it feels like pure euphoria.

    • t says...

      Honey! That is so cute!

    • MissEm says...

      Honey!! Oh sweetness!

  17. Ange says...

    I started off with cheek kisses.

    But my son instigated a lip kiss. It does feel much more intimate to me. But not sexual.

    My daughter sticks to cheeks.

    Speaking of cheeks…’rubbing bums in the shower while listening to Bollywood music” cracked me up. Little Fires Everywhere brought me tears. COJ you nailed it yet again.

  18. Sarah says...

    I’m in the ‘NO’ camp. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I simply haven’t witnessed it much in my life, so it never had a chance of feeling normalised. But it looks so unnatural to see others doing it. If i think about it, I can admit it is quite arbitrary that lips are considered so strongly romantic for a lot of people and cultures. I just can’t shake that creeped out feeling I get..

    My parents never kissed me on the lips as a child. However when I was in my early twenties my mum randomly went in for a lip kiss one day and I was super freaked out. I think you normally either grow up with it or you don’t…

  19. Mouse says...

    We were not mouth kissers in my family, and I was very uncomfortable at around age 9 when I had an overnight at my best friend’s house and her father kissed us goodnight on the lips. It was entirely innocent, just the way they did things in their family, but being fairly introverted I felt it as an intrusion of sorts. My family still hugs and kisses on the cheek, but no mouths.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s really odd, i think! i happily kiss my children on the mouth, but i’d never kiss ANOTHER child on the mouth, in the same way that i kiss alex on the mouth but i wouldn’t kiss another man on the mouth.

  20. Marissa says...

    We don’t. I didn’t grow up with mouth kissing, and neither did my husband, so it never occurred to me to kiss my kids on the mouth. We show affection in other ways. :) For reference, we are both Americans.

  21. Kara says...

    The comments are so interesting. I had no idea people found it disgusting or inappropriate when kids and parents kiss on the mouth! A close-mouthed kiss is in no way sexual to me. I can see it being awkward if you don’t know the person well, because it definitely conveys a level of intimacy, but to me intimacy is not reserved only for my romantic partner. I wonder if the people/families/cultures that find it inappropriate are those that encourage waiting to have sex (or even any, most, or all levels of sexual intimacy) until marriage? Perhaps if I’d grown up feeling that way, then a simple peck on the lips would be a sexual act/significant. In thinking about it, I stopped kissing my parents on the lips around the time when I started daydreaming about kissing boys, ie tween-hood. But once that passed, we never picked up the practice again, and reflecting as a parent now, I’m sad about it.

    My husband and I kiss our young boys on the mouth, but we always ask first. The other day I asked my 1yo for a kiss and his big brother shoved his way in to kiss me (of course haha!) and it became this game of who could kiss me the most…top five highlights of motherhood so far and definitely a moment I’ll remember when I’m old and they’re living away from home:)

    (Loved that passage from Little Fires Everywhere, it’s so true!)

    • Laura says...

      I grew up in a faith culture that advocates for waiting until marriage to have sex, but got tons of hugs and kisses from my parents growing up! I don’t think kissing your child on the lips is a sexual act at all!

  22. Libby says...

    My partner’s mother still kisses all her grown children on the lips and I have been ducking her wet lips since day one.

    • Joanna (not Goddard!) says...

      This gave me such a good chuckle- the visual of you (whoever you are, wonderful Libby!) ducking an older woman’s kisses, ha!

    • Julie says...

      I love this comment haha! I would totally do the same. I would never kiss another adult on the lips (other than my husband). That’s just weird.

      P.S. I do kiss my 5 year old son on the lips sometimes. I think it’s sweet.

    • Elizabeth says...

      +1 but it’s my father in law instead…

    • Anna says...

      Hehehe! This made me laugh too! :-) I would definitely do the same!

  23. marty says...

    My husband and I never really thought about it or talked about it – we’ve been kissing our kids on the lips since they were babies (unless we have a cold or something). As they’ve gotten older, my son (now 14) sometimes offers me the top of his head (a consolation prize?), but his twin sister is a love bird, and still seems to like a peck on the lips from us. I can understand why some people may avoid it for medical reasons, and think its really just what feels right for the kids. They are the bosses of their own bodies, for sure!

  24. I don’t kiss my kids on the lips because I like to keep it romantic with my husband!! But totally respect others who do differently. My mom and her sisters greet each other with a kiss on the lips all the time. My daughters kiss each other on the lips. It’s all about personal preference, I think, and agency over your own body.

    Somewhat related, I am VERY casual about nudity and I’ve got a teenager and pre-teen. Bodies are beautiful – nothing to be ashamed of, but yes, if someone wants to change in privacy and have the bathroom door shut, feel free. Again, agency over our own bodies is important!

  25. D says...

    I’m 30 and my grandma still force kisses my cousins and I on the lips. Everyone hates it and no one else in my family is a mouth kisser. I doubt I’ll do it with my kids because my grandma has traumatised me!

  26. Jill says...

    It’s so interesting how different people are and how different every family is. I am the most affectionate mom to my now 14 yr old daughter. I hug her every time either of us leaves, I hug her before bed, if she looks sad. (I get a hug back about 50% of the time, so I feel blessed). I kiss her on the cheek when she leaves for school and before bed. (sometimes she asks for a kissy) But I have not kissed her on the lips since she was maybe 2, and started giving kisses. I am not sure what age it transitioned to cheek kissing, maybe 3 or 4? I don’t think I would kiss another person on the lips, except for my husband. Kissing a baby/toddler is fine, but to me if seems strange to kiss an actual person (who is not a lover) on the lips. I am thinking this sounds so uptight from the other comments I read, except I know I’m not. We have a pretty liberal naked policy at our house. It’s just so interesting how different people are.

  27. Blair says...

    I grew up in a family of huggers and cheek kissers, except for babies, all babies got kissed on the mouth. Now my kids kiss me and my husband on the mouth but no one else (mainly due to germs and viruses, we’ve escaped the cold sores thus far). My parents give lots of kisses to them as well cheeks, heads, arms, bellies etc. my kids are 6, 5 and 2. My sister has 4 boys and all of hers kiss on the mouth as well. I also shower, sleep and nursed all of them and am not sure when it will be considered unacceptable to do these things. I guess we will follow our intuition. I do know that we talk about who is safe and who isn’t. What is acceptable with other adults, older children, peers etc? We are very open and honest with any questions or concerns they may have. I have no doubts my daughter (the eldest) wont come to me with anything she hears, or someone says to her and that is what I want most in the world.

  28. Caitlin says...

    That passage from Littlw Fires Everywhere stopped me in my tracks while reading the book. As a mom to two young boys (one still a baby), it puts a huge lump in my throat to think of the day when hugs and cuddles will no longer be a daily affair. Oh, the heartache of parenthood. Such a gut-wrenching privilege.

    • MissEm says...

      My two still love cuddles, but it occurred to me the other day that the daily cuddles are coming to an end soon (probably? I will eke it out as long as possible!), and it made me wish I could go back and tell my younger self to not be too worried about sharing the bed but to drink every snuggly, boundary-less moment up before those moments are gone forever. That said, it’s a delight and a joy forever to SLEEP! Haha.

  29. heather says...

    We kiss on the lips and I of course kiss them on the forehead, nose, hands etc and will follow their wishes as they grow. I think it was just a natural thing and is a natural thing to do for any parent/child. I completely respect those who don’t though and as well have been very surprised by the verbal disdain by some on the subject.

  30. Rachael says...

    I kiss my (six) kids constantly, but never on the lips—and I very rarely even kiss my husband on the lips!! When our kids were younger we had serious illness issues with two of our children that just made me so paranoid about spreading illness. Lots of cheek and head kisses but that’s it.

  31. Maryann says...

    My 12-yr-old son gives great hugs but for a while now, has only offered the top of his head to kiss. Last night I snuck in a smooch on his cheek and was rewarded with the feeling of his still-chubby baby cheeks. They are going fast now – his cheek topography is changing daily it seems, with new bumps and angles showing up. I gotta take advantage of the baby cheeks while they last!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “his cheek topography is changing daily it seems” = sweetest heartbreak!

  32. Steph says...

    My brother and I are in my 30s and both my mom and dad still hug and kiss us on the cheeks. I don’t remember them kissing us on the lips intentionally, but if it accidentally happened it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, either. My son is 3 and has two moms. For as long as I can remember, he has gotten super upset when my wife and I kiss in front of him, but I think it’s out of possessiveness of me (the birth parent who nursed him and whom he still favors when he is upset or super tired). I welcomed his open mouth kisses as an infant and younger toddler but he’s kind of stopped doing it, so I follow his lead. I kiss him on the cheek when we say goodbye, for example, and he does the same.
    We have a single bathroom in our house, and he’s 3 so privacy doesn’t really happen yet, but I haven’t given much thought to when we’ll stop being naked around him. I’m also aware of the double standard that an adult male parent being naked around a young child would be considered inappropriate sooner than an adult female. So I’m glad we get to sidestep that, I guess. I don’t know. Tough stuff.

  33. Carrie says...

    My 3 year old daughter likes to move her head back and forth like “Belle and the Prince” when we kiss on the lips. When she first did it, I said “woah, that was a juicy one!”, and now she tells me every time we kiss that she likes “juicy ones” with me. I wasn’t sure how I should feel about this originally, but I’ve come to treasure her juicy kisses, and am grateful that I’m the one she wants to share them with for the time being :)

    • A says...

      Omg my 3-year-Old does the same and then declares “now we’re married!” 😂😂

    • jessica warner says...

      mine does the same thing! she says, “let’s get married…” and then we have a long, sweet, smooshy kiss on the lips, after which she declares, “l now pronounce you mama and wife!”
      i am so in love with this little strange creature! i can’t imagine these kisses ever ending. heartbreak!

  34. Esther says...

    My mom’s kisses were always wet so I found it pretty gross when she kissed me on the lips. Babies and toddler’s have wet slobbery mouths so I have never had the urge to kiss them on the lips. Mind you, I don’t have kids. Maybe a wet kiss is charming coming from your own kids?

    • Charming might be stretching it, but it’s often sweet and hilarious. 😉

  35. Heidi says...

    I got the nasty cold sore virus from my mother, she did not know that it was contagious, I unfortunately gave it to both my sons because I did not know either, until My oldest son’s doctor told me about it. You can imagine the feeling of guilt every time my kids get a cold sore. I’m hoping they’ll find a cure soon, I mean humans have been to the moon, we can’t be that far away from a cure to that and many other viruses.

    • Lynn says...

      Cold sores are incredibly common, 50-80% of the population. While it’s annoying and can be painful, it’s practically inevitable people get them.

    • Amy says...

      From what my doctor says, most people have been exposed to the cold sore virus. Some are just carriers, and others experience the symptoms as well as carrying it. So I think eventually they would’ve been exposed to it, regardless of how careful you were. Your children simply are the type of humans that get the unfortunate symptoms. Don’t feel responsible!
      My dad and mom and brother get cold sores; me and my sisters do not. It’s very unlikely that we haven’t been exposed to it at this point, as often you’re most contagious before you experience symptoms.

  36. Carlin Miller says...

    I grew up in a lip-kissing, but oddly emotionally detached family (we don’t talk about emotions and we definitely don’t go to therapy … which is funny because I’m a clinical psychologist). It freaks my husband out. His family hugged but didn’t kiss. I hug everyone and kiss cheeks with his family. (They don’t talk about emotions much either.)

    I kiss, hug, and cuddle our kids (boys: 9 and 11). Both will even hold my hand as we walk to school. My husband is less hands-on but a really devoted father. I think the mixed model works for us right now and I’m wondering how it will evolve as the kids get bigger.

    • H says...

      I’m not a lip-kisser (though I grew up in a lip-kissing household), but solely due to germ aversion. It’s the same reason I can’t bring myself to finish my kids’ uneaten food. However, I really do long to smooch their sweet lips sometimes. I remember when my son was about a month old, I had been struggling to feel bonded to him and felt like a terrible mother (hello, undiagnosed postpartum anxiety! PPD’s less talked about, but no less awful counterpart). Then one day, I was walking with him in the wrap, staring down at his tiny face. He did one of those giant, gummy newborn yawns and I suddenly had the overwhelming desire not just to kiss him, but to dive into his mouth and just live in there, if that makes sense. The mother love hit me hard, in a deeply physical way, at just that moment. It was like a wave cresting over me and I suddenly understood what everyone was talking about. I’ll never forget that feeling, and looked forward to it with my second-born, and sure enough it hit around the one month mark! Now I’m always sure to tell new moms that it might not happen in the first minute, day, or even week after birth, and that’s ok. But when it happens, you’ll know, and you’ll love that baby with such intensity, it will take your breath away.

  37. Alex says...

    I am 28 and just gave my mom a kiss on the mouth yesterday 😂 it’s really just a pursed lips peck but ya. She refuses just a hug.

    • Daniela says...

      I moved to the US at age 10 and that was the first time I ever saw a parent kiss a child on the lips, and I thought it was SO weird! Ha! I’ve always seen it as a romantic thing. I don’t have kids yet but I do not see myself doing this, but it doesn’t bother me anymore that others do it.

  38. Nicole says...

    I’m not crying you’re crying. wah.

  39. Megan says...

    We do not, for practical reasons – my grandmother accidentally passed on the cold sore virus to my sister when she was 3 months old by kissing her on the mouth just prior to having a blister form. She feels absolutely terrible about it to this day (31 years later!) and it really put the kibosh on mouth kissing in our family. Once you see a 3 month old endure a cold sore outbreak, you don’t forget it. As someone who inevitably also got hit with the virus at some point during childhood, I am HYPER conscious of this around my nieces and nephews. I’d rather not mouth kiss (or even kiss nieces/nephews on the cheek, to be honest! I just stay away from that entirely) but we give a lot of good hugs!

    • Anna says...

      I’m surprised other people haven’t brought this up. My husband and I have (not yet at least) caught the cold sore virus, and it’s our #1 reason why we’re very conscious/avoidant of kisses with other people, sharing food and cutlery, etc, even with our son.

  40. Lisa says...

    My mother was / is very affectionate, my father but so much. I’m very affectionate with my babies but then they are still quite small. Very recently my daughter (16 months) has taken to giving open mouthed snogs (sometimes mixed with biting). I do love it, despite getting completely soaked. The other night she got up during the night, and when I went to pick her up she through her arms around my shoulder and gave me a peck on the lips. So sweet!

  41. Maisy says...

    This is not my relationship with my parents and, though I don’t have kids, it’s not really the relationship I imagine with them. I ask this question, then, because I have literally no experience – if your kids grow up kissing and bathing with adults, how do you draw the line about what adults are “safe” to do that with? Aren’t you concerned that this could cause blurred lines in relationships with adults, particularly if those adults are looking to take advantage of children? Am I just being paranoid here?

    • agnes says...

      Parents are not just any adults…

    • Florencia says...

      With you on this one!

    • Meaghan says...

      I think it’s a pretty easy line to draw: we do some things, like bathing and mouth kissing, with only mom and dad; sometimes we also kiss grandma and grandpa on the mouth if we want; with people we are less close to, we give hugs and high fives, or we just wave. Literally all of parenting is setting boundaries and drawing lines for kids – levels of intimacy is just one more area to do that. And, by the way, in my mind, teaching my son to understand levels of intimacy and consent is one of the most important jobs I have. So, no, I’m not at all worried that this will cause blurred lines or that he won’t understand. I’m his mom. Others are not. Full stop.

    • Martini says...

      Word for word what Meaghan said.
      Common sense period.

      Thank you, Meaghan.

  42. Meg says...

    We never went out of our way to hide nudity from our young kids – I always thought it would be good for them to see all bodies looks different and to see bodies as normal and not shameful… that was until my son was asked during a parent teacher conference to describe ways he was similar and different from his dad. (wide eye and scream face emoji here) After an excruciatingly detailed expose on the hair my husband has in his nether regions that was the end of that…. robes for everyone!

    • Justine says...

      Crying with laughter at the horror of this :-)

    • Erin says...

      Oh my goodness, this made me laugh out loud. I did a similar thing when I was a small child and my dad was mortified!

    • Natalie says...

      This made me laugh so hard!

    • Blair says...

      Best comment of the day! Needed this and can totally see my middle little doing this as well!

    • Kara says...

      Omg I’m crying 😂😂

    • Bonnie says...

      This absolutely cracked me up…what a gem of a story. Thanks for sharing, Meg!

  43. Charitie says...

    I think God has made our minds to develop different cognitive boxes for different people. Meaning, I can nurse my one-year-old and not be sexually aroused because it is a motherly, amazing gift to nurture her. But when my husband fondles them, I completely switch intimacy gears. Kissing on the lips is not exactly the same (we’re not nurturing them with sustenance), but we are providing emotional care and stability, and this also evolves to a differing nature when kissing your spouse.

    • Meg says...

      This makes so much sense to me! Well said!

  44. Kat says...

    It’s so interesting reading these comments! I had NO IDEA people felt strongly one way or the other… My husband and I both kiss our kids (4 and 6) on the lips and it has always seemed very natural to us. I am aware that my son might not want to for much longer (especially in front of friends), but so far he goes in for the smooch in front of the idling school bus without hesitation! It’s definitely not out of the ordinary here (east coast Canada).

  45. Chrissie says...

    Growing up my mother wasn’t very affectionate with my three siblings and me. She was the greatest mom ever so we would give her a hard time about how it would seem like she was trying to escape every time we hugged her.

    As an adult my mom revealed to me that there wasn’t much hugging in her family of origin either. My mom was one out of six kids and three of the kids had undiagnosed Cystic Fibrosis. Her mom was a nurse and while she didn’t know what was wrong, something was clearly wrong with her three little kids. Because her kids were sick all the time, my grandmother was understandably paranoid about germs. This lead to a lot less touching in the family than there probably would have been had the kids not been sick. Sadly, my mom’s littlest brother died at age 10 and her other brothers died in their 20s.

    I had always known this information intellectually but I don’t think I ever really thought about the impact having terminally ill children would have had on an entire family system. It made me look at my mom in a whole new way. It’s not that she didn’t want to hug me and snuggle me, it’s that she was raised the way she was raised and it affected how she raised me. She was still the best mama ever!

    And kissing on germy lips would have been a definite ‘HELL NO’ from my mom!

  46. adrienne trunnell says...

    Absolutely, if that’s what they like. My 17 year-old daughter kisses me on the lips still and until the past year, she’d occasionally curl up in bed with me. And no, we were not co-sleepers with our kids, ever. I consider this the sweetest thing and a privilege to have a teenager who would still do this with me. I truly don’t know how anyone can look down on this, especially with a young child. I recall the first time this question was posed here and I was shocked then as well. It’s a benign and sweet form of affection. Our kisses and hugs are briefer now, but like so many others commenting here, they are simply a way of saying a quick ‘goodbye’ or ‘goodnight.’ We should all be so lucky.

  47. Mel says...

    I come from a very affectionate home, but didn’t kiss my parents on the mouth, my sister did but I didn’t. I might be even more affectionate now and have spent my life as the ‘kissing bandit’ I used to joke with my parents when I was a teenager that ‘the Bible says to greet each other with a kiss and I take that command very seriously’. My Dad thought this was hilarious, as did my Mom, and my sister would remind me that it said nothing about french kissing the entire marching band. I now have a husband who was raised in a very un-affectionate home (once you reached the age of 10ish) but fortunately loves touch and we kiss all the time in front of our 2 1/2 year old. She loves it and wants her own kisses from Daddy and Mommy, including on the lips. I’m all for it and my husband has come around. She’s crazy affectionate and it’s not uncommon for her to kiss me all over my face in the morning. We bathe together and I still breast-feed. We all cuddle together and hold hands. It’s the dream life for me and now there are no flute players calling me a floozy for it.

  48. my 19mo toddler grabs my face with his palms and pulls me into a LONG smooch most days. I am definitely not a kissy huggy person and he DGAF. I mean, I love it. He only says I love you to his dad but he is all over me with hugs and smooches! I know it’s only temporary…

  49. Whitney Olson says...

    I am a kiss on the lips mom. My kiddos love it and wish their dad kissed them on the lips. He is still super affectionate with them. However, I let them decide what they are comfortable with when it comes to extended family (most of which are strangers).

    My husband told my 5 year old to hug HIS aunt. Whom she had never met before. I knew I liked her when she said, “no no, girls shouldn’t have to be physical with people they aren’t comfortable with. ” i immediately thanked her and later reminded my husband that our children decide what they are comfortable with, especially having three cute little girls.

    • Em says...

      Yes to auntie! I ask very kid in my life if they want a hug, if they don’t seem like they do I let them know that “no” is ok, they always seem relieved and frequently say no. It’s wonderful! The hugs I get are because they want to hug, not out of obligation. :)

  50. Elizabeth C says...

    We always kissed on the mouth in our family. Now that my siblings and I are in our late twenties/early thirties we kiss on the cheek instead, but it’s not awkward if we miss and accidentally get a lip peck. I kiss my parents on the cheek every time I see them, which is often. I would die of horror if I saw my father completely naked now (I’m looking at you, that time I barged into my parents’ room at 16 and ran into my father coming nude out of the shower!) But I saw my parents showering quite often when I was little (I would play a game where I stood on the dresser and snuck my hand over the top of the shower and my dad would “slap” it ), and when we travel together I see them in their underwear, though I don’t do it to them!

    That said, I have met people whose parents were overly aggressive in seeking affection without consent. And also people whose parents were not affectionate and who don’t have close relationships with them now. I think aside from cultural differences, it really comes down to parents making their children feel that their bodies are natural and also their own. I hate how much shame our culture attaches to our bodies.

    I love this sweet Gary Snyder poem about family bodies https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47753/the-bath-56d2286f7a7ad

    • mado says...

      That poem is so beautiful.

    • Maria says...

      I kiss my kids on the mouth and cuddle them and also for quite a long time pecked my dad on the mouth when saying goodbye etc. But I have a big issue with my mother in law being very physical. She is not the type who hugs and kiss her friends and I have never seen her touch her own husband. But she constantly touches her sons and grandkids. Just unannounced touching. Coming from behind and stroking their face and lips, massaging their neck or hair. Suddenly starting to rub my husbands feet while watching tv. She also always wanted to caress my belly while I was pregnant. I can’t quite explain why it feels so off. But it is the contrast of her being so not physical with others and then sneeking up and just touch her sons. She is also not talking about emotions ever. And then suddenly bursting out sometimes. It is complicated.

  51. Sara says...

    I kissed my parents on the lips when I was a chid and give my kids lots of kisses, including on the lips. However, I don’t kiss my parents on the lips any more. I vaguely remember an airport, leaving for college or going to college being the last time I kissed my dad on the lips and it felt strange and like something I had outgrown/was no longer comfortable with. So I assume that there will be a day when my kids will no longer want to kiss me more than on the cheek, but I hope it isn’t too soon.

  52. Janine says...

    My dad used to insist on mouth kisses growing up, and it grossed me out so much, I would always make a big show of wiping it off. He kissed his own father on the mouth, and to this day, he will even kiss his male friends on the mouth. My mother, who’s Portuguese, NEVER kissed on the mouth, but will give up to four cheek kisses as a greeting.

    I kiss my baby more than I ever anticipated I would. I can’t get enough of his toes, his delicious belly, and even his little tush before putting him in the bath. I’ve seemed to combine my parents influences and will kiss him many, many times on the cheeks and will even occasionally steal a peck on the lips. Now that he’s begun attempting his own (open mouth, slobbery) kisses, our very own Dracula goes straight for our necks!

  53. Reba says...

    My parents are pretty reserved about kissing my brother and I. My mom will kiss my cheeks sometimes, one on each to ‘balance’ me, but she does it quick, almost like she’s stealing them or trying to sneak them in before I can protest, when actually, I love it, it makes me feel like a kid again.

    When I read this though, I actually thought about my husband’s family. My mother-in-law kisses me on the mouth every time I see her! So do his grandparents! When we were dating, I used to turn my head at the last moment to catch the kisses on my cheek, having been unaccustomed to kissing relatives on the lips, though that made for a few awkward hello’s. After we were married, I brought this up to my husband, who said he’d never really noticed that his family does this, but suggested I stop turning my head and just go with it – it makes it less awkward. Since then I’ve just leaned in, and happily give reciprocal pecks to whoever offers!

  54. Caitlin says...

    I never thought I would kiss my kids on the mouth, but… My 13 month old son has just caught on to kissing. He comes toddling over to me and gives me a big, sloppy, mouth-open, tongue-out kiss, and it is just about the sweetest thing. Who am I to say no?

    Then again he does the same to our dog, play structures at the playground, his favorite toys, etc., so you win some you lose some 🤷 I like to think it will be good for his immune system in the long run!

  55. S says...

    I’m trying to take the direction from my 2.5 year old son. I’ve always kissed him on the cheek or head. Mainly because I don’t like the germ factor with kissing on the lips. I also don’t kiss anyone on the lips but my husband, so it feels out of place for me.

    My son, however, sometimes will come over and give me a huge kiss on the lips. I don’t tell him no. I say thanks and I give him a big hug. We are an affectionate family with hugs and lots of I love yous. Our son often sleeps part of the night with us too. Our son really doesn’t want to kiss anyone else on the mouth. Just an occasional for me and for my husband.

  56. My husband swore he wouldn’t kiss our boys on the lips, but our youngest son has broke down that barrier. I grew up never kissing on the lips, but I wasn’t an affectionate child. I am not an affectionate adult, actually, but that all goes out the window with my husband and kids.

    When my oldest started kindergarten in the fall, I felt a tiny, almost imperceptible rift begin to form between us. He is growing up and I am trying my best to let him do that. But I did realize, after a few hard months, that since he was away all day long, our actual amount of physical touch had decreased. I made and effort to cuddle him during family movie nights more and reach for his hand when we’re walking and ensure he gets a hug and a kiss before and after school. And I’ve felt that rift close up a bit with that effort. I’m sure there will come a day when he wants my closeness and touch less and less, but for now, I’m making sure I give him exactly what he wants… which is physical touch.

  57. Emily says...

    I’m 48 and I kiss my parents on the lips (though this didn’t start until I was an adult with children of my own), usually just when I say “goodbye.” We were never a big physical affection family.
    With my kids, I have always shown them a lot of physical affection – hugs, handholding, a kiss. My 18 year old daughter will kiss me on the lips occasionally and always a hug and kiss on the cheek. My 16 year old son lets me hug him both before he leaves for school in the morning and before he goes to bed at night. He would sooner melt away than give me a kiss, but you take what you can get from a teenaged boy.

  58. Sadie says...

    I’m 27 and I still give my dad a peck on the lips when I say goodbye to travel to back to my own city or goodnight before bed. Never a hello kiss–only goodbyes.

  59. Katy says...

    I read Little Fires Everywhere before I was pregnant and now I am currently nursing my 5 month old daughter. I loved this passage then but now feel deeply connected to it and cry just thinking about it. (The sleep deprivation has really hit me hard!) it devastates me that one day she will pull away when I try and kiss her tum. Until then I’ll take all I can get!
    Oh and I don’t kiss her on the mouth because it is so tiny but it is the perfect size to want to kiss in the future….

  60. CE says...

    As I am sitting here thinking about how complicated bodies in terms of how you treat touching them (for example, it took so long after breastfeeding before I felt like my breasts could be sexual again), I am also thinking about gendered it all is. Even though I’m bisexual why am I comfortable being naked with women and not with men? Speaking of this specific example, does Alex kiss the kids on the lips or just Joanna? And if he doesn’t why not? Is it weird or should we all be encouraging our husbands to kiss more?

  61. Tracy says...

    I’m not a huge fan but when my two year old little boy comes up and says “give mommy a kiss”, then comes for the lips, I roll with it and let him give me a little peck. It’s too sweet and innocent to say no to.

  62. Emily C says...

    kisses with my toddler all the time, and that’s why i spend all of winter being sick ;)

  63. Annie says...

    We definitely kiss our kids on the lips and do a lot of hugging and snuggling. My 3.5 year old likes to climb into our bed at 6 am each morning to snuggle. “Mommy, can I snuggle?” Sometimes he dozes a little and sometimes he’s wide awake and pretending to be a cat and sometimes he gives me “polka dots” by kissing me all over my face (my favorite!). From the time he was a baby, he has always needed 20 minutes of snuggle time, pressed up against my skin, before he can go about his day. He is very much an independent kid and will entertain himself for hours on end, but he always takes occasional breaks to come snuggle and recharge. We always say my 7.5 year old daughter is like a cactus because she loves her personal space (although she still does want some snuggling (on her terms) when she’s sad and needs a kiss goodnight each night). She is not as independent and wants us to interact and play with her always. I always find it fascinating how kids come out with their personalities and we just have to learn and adapt to them as they grow.

  64. Sami says...

    My parents kissed me on the mouth when I was little and I also bathed a lot with my little brother (he’s a year younger than me). It never felt weird or anything. Although I can’t remember when we stopped doing that, I’m sure it was around elementary age.

  65. jaclyn says...

    I remember reading something on CupofJo before I had my daughter about parents kissing children on the mouth and thought it a little strange, as that was not something I did with my parents. BUT then when I had my daughter I was like “OHHHHHH now I see” – I love kissing her little face and lips. She is 3 now and often when we ask for a kiss she grabs our face and turns and says “kisses are for the cheek!” (a day-care rule; understandably) and i respect her request but a little part of me wants to cry out “but I am your momma!”

  66. Callie Dinolfo says...

    Growing up, I was told kissing on the mouth was “private,” reserved only for romantic relationships. I didn’t think much about this until I started kissing my daughters smack on the mouth, from the time they were newborns and still today, even with my seven-year-old. I love picking them up, having them wrap their legs and arms around me, and giving them a squishy smooch right on their mouth. We sometimes even make a noise to go with it like, “MWAAAH!” It’s intimate and loving, and feels really natural.

  67. Sarah says...

    My eighteen-month-old comes does this adorable thing when I’m sitting on the floor. She walks backward until she’s in my lap. Then she puts her cheek on my lips so I will give her kisses. Once she’s done she stands up and goes right back to playing. Right now, I’m hoping it never ends.

  68. Kate says...

    No mouth kisses! I have an autoimmune disease, and since my immune system is too busy itself to fight off germs, one of the first phrases my daughter learned was “if you touch it, Mummy can’t eat it!”

  69. Meg says...

    I’ll be 30 in a few months, and until the somewhat recent headlines about Tom Brady kissing his son and dad on the lips, I had no idea it bothered people. My immediate family still does it, and we’re all adults. My dad’s parents still kiss us all on the lips, too, though they’d stop if we were uncomfortable with it. My mom’s side of the family is a little more reserved, but we all still do hugs+cheek kisses (again, all adults). I’ve been in other countries where everyone greets each other with the double cheek kiss, and that, at first, was honestly more bothersome to me than family lip kissing. But I quickly saw it as a beautiful thing, and embraced the custom while in country. To each their own!

  70. Becca says...

    I never thought about this — my parents never kissed me on the lips that I remember — until I met my boyfriend’s family. His mom kissed him on the lips right in front of me! He was 29 at the time. It was so, so weird.

  71. Cooper says...

    Have you read that fantastic NPR article about the Inuit’s gentle parenting style? It described a special kiss Inuit people have for babies: pressing your nose against their cheek and sniffing. It sounds weird but feels divine! We’ve definitely added Inuit kisses to our forms of affection.

  72. Megan says...

    We used to kiss on the lips when my older son was tiny and he initiated it, but he grew out of wanting us to do that.

    He’s twelve now and the size of a small man. He’ll be bigger than I am soon. He’s never been much of a cuddler or toucher. Last week, though, he was running late for school and I made him eggs to save him time. He paused in his rushing, came up next to me and rubbed my back with one hand, squeezed my shoulder and said, “Thanks for the eggs, mom.”

    I positively melted inside.

  73. Jenn says...

    I do kiss and hug my 8 and 4 year-old sons a lot (as does my husband) but I almost always ask them if it’s ok first. The other day my 8 year-old said, “Mom, you don’t have to ask me if you can kiss me.” And I explained to him that I want him to know that his body belongs to him and he gets to say if he doesn’t want to be touched—by anyone, even me. While I’d love to say I was thinking explicitly about consent and teaching my kids about their own power over their bodies, I really started asking as my son got older. I just kind of assumed as he grew that he’d want less physical affection from me. Turns out, he doesn’t want less (yet) but I’m glad I ask. And I’m glad we talked about why I ask.

    And I guess I do kiss them on the lips—but not often. Some one is always sick! I love to kiss my 8 year-old right between his eyebrows, where it’s a little fuzzy. And my 4 year-old likes cheek kisses best.

    Overall my kids love to be cuddled and kissed. We are a demonstrative family, but I never assume other people are as comfortable with physical affection as I am.

  74. Rachel says...

    I just finished reading Little Fires Everywhere, and I highlighted that passage and then took a screenshot on my phone so I would be SURE to remember it (the book was a library e-book). It was the first time I wanted to highlight a passage from a book that wasn’t for school – so beautiful!

  75. I never thought about this before my mom got really sick with complications after surgery. For the two weeks she was in the hospital, I kissed her on the lips every time I left the room. My fiance thought it was weird, since I had never kissed my mom before, but I was like “SHE MIGHT BE DYING I NEED TO KISS HER!” Now that she is back in perfect health, I don’t kiss her anymore–but I tell her I love her a lot more than before.

  76. tina crisas says...

    I was brought up by old style Greek parents in Australia and kissing on the lips just wasn’t something they did, or knew, even though my Mum was VERY affectionate and loving. I always thought it was so cute (and associated it with cool, hip parents) seeing the kiss on the lips between parents and kids and was intrigued by it. My daughter is now 2 and both my husband and I kiss our daughter on the lips, and it’s so sweet and I love it and her with all my being, but weirdly, and this is the first I’ve admitted it to myself, it does kind of, for a micro second, subconcsiously, feel a little strange? I think it has to do with not being brought up with that. But, as long as my daughter is okay with it, so am I!

  77. Claire says...

    My husband and I both love and kiss all over our 3 year old. I’m curious to know if anyone else has issues with other family members kissing their child on the mouth. I’ve had to say something to my MIL a few times and most recently my BIL kissed my daughter on the mouth as he was saying goodbye. While innocent and loving, I’m extremely bothered by it and wonder why anyone would think it’s okay to kiss someone else’s child on the mouth. Not to mention the germs and the fact both smoke. Also, any suggestions as to what to say in these situations would be helpful. I always feel my, “no kisses on the mouth please” is brushed off.

  78. joan says...

    it’s the fastest way for children to contract Herpes I

  79. Lauren E. says...

    My parents didn’t kiss us on the mouth and I’m sure it’s because their parents didn’t kiss them on the mouth. It always made me wildly uncomfortable when a more distant relative would try it so I’m pretty firmly in the camp that I won’t do it to my kids. But I really think it’s whatever you’re brought up with – no shame either way.

  80. Brielle says...

    Wow, that passage from Little Fires Everywhere makes me tear up. My two and a half year old has been insisting on crawling into bed every morning at 5am. She wants to wrap her little body around mine. I end up not sleeping. Part of me thinks we need to cut this out, but now I feel like I just need to savor it <3

    • Savor it! My two and a half year old is three and a half now and he hasn’t done that in months! I miss it SO MUCH.

  81. Julie says...

    I was a non-touchy kid, and I’m a non-touchy adult. I am sure my parents could relate to the passage above, I hated being touched by anyone as a teenager, including hugs from my parents. It didn’t mean I didn’t love them, it was just NOT how I wanted it expressed. For example, I think I went four years without hugging my mom. I wish as a kid we had more conversations about love languages. As an adult, I’ve learned how to accept other people’s touch love languages (aka I can hug people without cringing or hiding), but it took me time. I wish, as a kid/teenager, people were better at accepting that about me. So in general, I am all for discussing how we touch our families, it’s an important conversation.

    • Sasha L says...

      I love how you say all this Julie. We should respect each person’s preference about touch.

      In my own family, touch, I love yous, displays of affection were almost totally absent. I now understand how familial trauma over several generations created this atmosphere, but when I was growing up it was just normal. As a result I’m uncomfortable on a certain level with touch and affection, even though I’ve worked hard so that I can reach out, receive hugs, be openly affectionate with my own family. We hug, I love you, kiss all the time, and this is a conscious choice for me, not an impulse. I understand all to well that when people are distant, there really are reasons behind it, usually incredibly painful ones.

  82. Melody says...

    NO way with the kissing on the mouth. I come from a Latino background and we are a very affectionate family always cuddling and hugging and absentmindedly playing with each others hair but kissing on the mouth is out of the question. Kissing on the cheek is totally fine but mouth kissing is akin to sexual contact and weird for family members to do. Not even with the babies.

    • Alexandra says...

      Same for me. No kissing on the mouth. I didn’t happened to me and I am not planning to do it. It makes me uncomfortable to see it because, as Melody points out, I am also Latin and kissing is a sexual contact. I will also like my kid’s first kiss to be special and not with me or to normalize it from such a young age.

    • Daria says...

      Same here – would never ever do it, it seems 100% sexual and it wildly bothers me to see other parents do it!!!

  83. Michelle says...

    I used to kiss both my daughter and son on the lips and thought nothing of it. My son is now 15 and in the last few years put a stop to it. He allows me to kiss his cheek and I am okay with that. My 12 year old daughter is okay with it sometimes and others not. We just go with the flow. They used to see me naked when they were little and I didn’t care, but they both don’t want to anymore, and like to have their own privacy too. My babies are growing up.

    I still kiss my mom on the lips and it’s fine, but don’t remember sharing any kisses at all with my dad. More of a hug kind of guy.

  84. Wuselbibi says...

    Oh my! What a timing you have!
    We’re native Germans, living still in Germany and I know many parents who kiss their kids goodbye on the mouth, every morning. My husband and me do definitely not kiss our children on the mouth!
    Our parents did no mouth kisses, too, so we’re just not used to that and find it awkward even to witness!

    But, a few weeks ago, our five-year-old daughter began kissing me in multiple places all over my face, including my mouth and I am certainly a little bit puzzled, feels awkward too, but actually I like it quite a bit!

    Germs, of course, are a bummer- I don’t like being guilty when my kids are ill. So of course I’ll decline when I’m feeling something coming up. And, most definitely, I don’t kiss goodbye at the Kindergarten. To me, it feels way too personal to be witnessed! Of course, it shows only the love a child wants to show his mother, innocent and sweet- but still, an intimate moment I don’t want to share!

  85. Elizabeth says...

    As a culture, we are so afraid of nudity. The only nude bodies we see are the glistening, toned, hairless ones in advertisements (showing basically everything but the female nipple, eyeroll). Because that is the version of nudity we’re given, we think that’s how our bodies should look, but of course, that’s not really how anyone’s body looks. No wonder we all carry so much body shame. My plan as a mom is to take my kids to the Korean spas where everyone walks around naked, and bodies of all different shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and experiences are on display. But first, of course, I’m going to have to work up the courage to drop my own towel.

    As for kissing children on the lips, I am uncomfortable with it. I don’t kiss my friends, siblings, parents, or anyone else on the mouth except for my husband. Germs are of course an issue, but more than that, kissing on the mouth is an intimacy that I reserve for romantic/sexual relationships. For that reason, adults kissing children on the mouth feels illicit to me.

    • CE says...

      It is so hard. I agree with you that I am uncomfortable personally with lip kissing people who are not my husband, but then I think is that really the only body part I will not share with my children? They have nursed at my breasts; I washed their entire bodies; They have pressed their faces into my neck; I have held their bottoms. I like this post and the comments because it is making me look closely at the things I do with a critical eye. Why do we do this this way? And why? I don’t have any answers.

  86. Amber says...

    I’m a cheek/forehead kisser with both of my boys. With my oldest (almost 5) we got into a nighttime routine, the origins of which I can’t remember, that dictates he must get “a hug, a kiss, and an Eskimo kiss” in that order from both me and my husband each night. He will also ask to have one of us rub his back and it helps calm and settle him down at night, particularly if he’s woken up from a bad dream. Our youngest is only 19 months and he’s just now at the stage where he will hug, kiss, say “night, night” and wave to his brother and whichever parent isn’t putting him into bed that evening. In general, our family is definitely more affectionate than mine was growing up. We have movie night snuggles, weekend morning pile into mom and dad’s bed snuggles, and post-bath/pre-bed time snuggles. It’s one of the things I will certainly miss when my boys decide they are too old for snuggles/back rubs/kisses.

  87. Caroline Crumpler says...

    Growing up, my parents never kissed us on the mouth. Hugs were not freely given either. I always felt that kissing on the lips was a solely sexual act. I actually remember reading a cupofjo article when I was in college that asked a similar question as this one. At the time, the very idea of kissing your child’s mouth made me cringe. I was sexually abused as a child and I am very hesitant about giving physical affection.

    And then my daughter was born, so precious and sweet I wanted to eat her up and have her back in my womb. Kissing her mouth was not sexual. Kissing her little mouth felt so motherly. I kiss both my babies on the mouth now. I kiss their mouths and toes and little ears. My babies are still young toddlers, but I teach my children that our bodies belong to just ourselves. Anything that doesn’t feel right to them, is wrong. Hopefully, it’ll be several long years until they are no longer comfortable with my kisses and snuggles. But when that time comes, when they are budding teens, I hope I can teach them that their bodies are good and divine and made for love. And so much more than merely sexual.

  88. Audrey says...

    I kiss my toddler on the lips but only if he agrees to a kiss. My family is hispanic and my extended family kisses on either the lips or just side of the mouth on the cheek as a greeting or goodbye. It was a big culture shock for my caucasian husband.

  89. bridget says...

    such an interesting conversation! my husband and i both adore kissing our 2.5 year old daughter on the lips and getting kisses from her. nothing has ever felt more natural. i don’t see any reason that i would stop until she requests it. this does have me wondering if there is a difference between boys and girls though. like for some reason i assume my husband would not kiss a boy on the mouth after he was a toddler, but maybe i’m wrong!

  90. P says...

    I think to each their own! My siblings and I have never kissed our parents on the lips, but we do that cheek kiss thing as we lean in for hugs. In general, I think platonic/familial intimacy is a beautiful thing, but I’ll admit I was uncomfortable and slightly weirded out the first time I saw my boyfriend kiss his mom on the lips. I was like, now I don’t want to kiss *you* on the lips! Childish? Maybe. But it was a totally instinctual reaction!

  91. Andrea says...

    my favorite part of the day is when I’m snuggling with my 18 month old, singing to him before bed, and he tilts his head back and puckers his lips for a kiss

    gets me every time!

  92. Jessie says...

    My husband and I both kiss our 5 and 7 year old boys on the lips. Sometimes my older son doesn’t want kisses when I drop him off at school but otherwise has never said anything. My husband grew up in a family where no one kisses at all- just an awkward one-armed hug and a “good to see you” upon greeting. They have very little intimacy in their family and treat one another kind of like acquaintances so I’m quite surprised to see how easily my husband has fallen into hugging, kissing and snuggling our boys. In my family, however, my dad (70) and brother (36) still kiss on the lips!

    • CE says...

      I love reading about all these kissing men!

  93. Jenna says...

    We all kiss on the lips! This morning, as I was leaving, I gave my daughter a quick peck and she grabbed my face and pulled me in for a longer smooch! Haha, it made my heart swell!

    We occasionally shower together and do “booty bumps” so Sammy’s comment about rubbing booties together made me laugh out loud. A surprising thing that I’ve come to love about our shower time is the conversation about individual bodies and their differences (“Mom, you have big boobs and I have little bitty boobs, but when I grow up I will have big boobs like you!”) but also autonomy and the right to say you’d rather not be touched there! Also, I think a by-product of us getting to be naked together is learning body positivity – we can talk about our bodies without shame and embarrassment. It’s a great learning time that I didn’t foresee when we started doing it!

  94. Liz says...

    The kisses and hugs you get from your kids once they are taller than you are fewer in number and feel so different from snuggling little kids. My son is now this lean muscle mass but when I hug him I can feel the little toddler dumpling inside.

    • Allyson says...

      “when I hug him I can feel the little toddler dumpling inside.” That warmed my heart. I have a toddler and am already missing these days! But she’ll always be my little toddler dumpling inside.

  95. Sana says...

    Personally, no. I don’t think I would’ve felt comfortable if my parents had kissed me on the lips, even a quick peck, when I was a child and definitely not now as an adult. With that said, joint baths would obviously have been a no from me. I stopped feeling comfortable with my mom giving me a bath around 8/9.

    I don’t have children yet but when I do, I imagine I won’t be above lots of hugs and kisses. Due to my own sense of boundaries, I would likely forego the lip pecks and joint baths.

    If it adds context, I’m a first-generation American, ethnically Pakistani, in my late 20’s.

  96. Mullica Zudsiri says...

    Maybe it’s because I’m asian-american but I never understood parents kissing their kids on the mouth. My parents are affectionate enough, they hug and kiss me on the cheek or forehead. Anything more seems kinda odd for me and I don’t plan to change that with my future children.

  97. Christy says...

    Nope. Kissing on the lips is ONLY for husbands and wives. You don’t kiss Anybody else, besides your husband or wife, on the lips.

    My mother in law tried to Mwah! Our older daughter one time on the lips and I was disgusted and so was my 2 1/2 year old! She bluntly told her nana that was disgusting!

  98. Bridget says...

    This makes me teary eyed… and laugh! My 4 babies are almost all grown up, but when they come home from school we hold hands and I rub their backs and give them massages. However in public my boys won’t hold my hand for fear that someone will think I’m their older girlfriend (its happened before). My 19 year old daughter though holds my hand and we have also been mistaken for girlfriends?! our culture is so weird. I miss my babies- they were so lovey and funny. When they were younger they would play the Bum Touch (tag by tagging a sibling’s butt) and touch tongues- mostly for the gross factor. Growing up I would never have tagged my mom’s bum, but my kids still think its funny and they might have revisited the game when they were home over the holidays. On a separate note nakedness is also an important discussion. My sister called my distraught last week when her husband said something about my sister (to her) running from the bathroom to their bedroom half dressed (she has a 14 year old son and an 11 year old daughter). Our family growing up was 4 girls and an older brother- we walked around in our unders- our mom showed us how in insert a tampon. Our parent’s weren’t concerned with being in underwear around the house. My older sister with her two kid hasn’t been either. Us as moms and our 6 kids would hand out at her pool in the summer and the kids would swim naked, sometimes us moms topless. I think it is very important to see bodies in a nonsexual manner. My kids still hang out in my bedroom and if I have to change I don’t ask them to leave. My daughters sometimes watch me- they will likely look like me one day- saggy boobs from nursing 4 kids!

  99. Carmen says...

    My mother passed away when I was 21 after a 3 year battle with cancer. One of the most visceral memories I have of her is her hugs. I always hope that if I were to die tomorrow, my daughter will remember my love physically. Given that at 2.5, she often tells me “too many kissies, mama”, I may be over doing it :).

  100. Sarah says...

    I wonder if the author has a daughter who she wishes felt that way, or if she herself felt that with her own mother? As a mother of toddlers who love to be touched I dread when they will demand some distance! I can totally imagine dreaming of my kids just wanting me to hold them even later in life when they might start to feel embarrassed by it.

  101. cg says...

    My daughter is 14, we still peck on the lips. She no longer does that with the Huz though, his choice. He thought it might be looked at in the wrong way.

  102. Susan says...

    The only person I kiss on the mouth is my husband. I have no problem with kissing my children, a girl and boy, on the cheek, head, hands, etc., just never even thought of kissing them on the mouth. In addition, we show affection with hugs, back and foot rubs, hand holding, etc. Maybe it’s because both my husband and I were raised in a similar fashion by our parents.

  103. Kelly says...

    My husband and I kiss each others’ foreheads and cheeks and tops of heads all the time, and don’t really do a lot of kissing on the mouth in front of others, so I imagine it’ll be similar with our kids.

    My mom was actually really aggressive with physical affection with all of us, completely disregarding our discomfort or consent. I remember being in high school and if you didn’t want her to be mad at you, you’d sit on her lap every morning. She even does this to the dog, squeezing him very tightly when he’s clearly uncomfortable, and does not stop when my dad says anything. Even today, she tries to grab the back of my neck in a Vulcan death grip when I release her from a hug. I’m 26, and it still scares me. I’m very aware of how her comfort was prioritized over ours and setting that boundary is one of the things that scares me most about having my own kids.

    Of course my husband and I are very aware of bodily autonomy and will teach our kids to be the boss of their bodies, but I feel like I’ll have to be around them to guard their boundaries from her, and I know she won’t want to hear she made us uncomfortable. Anyone go through anything similar?

    • Franny says...

      My mom is similar to yours, and it makes me deeply uncomfortable (and I still feel guilty about it.) She started sobbing at an airport once because I didn’t want to hug her in the way that she wanted. She’s also gone on many tear-filled tirades about how she doesn’t understand how she could raise such an unaffectionate child. I want to tell her that it is because she never respected my comfort, but as of yet, I’ve refrained.

      Weirdly, I feel much more comfortable being physically affectionate with friends. I don’t mind hugging/kissing/hand holding with them. Probably because it is on my terms, as opposed to in an attempt to placate.

    • Cecily says...

      I relate to this so deeply! Growing up, my mother was physically affectionate with us and there was NO consideration of our consent or comfort. She would wake us up by getting into our beds and cuddling, she hugged us for an awkwardly extended time and when she felt closer to us, she’d want to hold hands. As an introverted kid who didn’t like being touched, this was extremely stressful.

      Additionally, it was very difficult to confront her about these behaviors because she felt she was giving us a type of childhood that she had been deprived of (my grandparents were not physically affectionate towards her) and she’d get upset by the idea that we were no longer her kissy, cuddly babies. To this day (I’m 31), I have to remind her that I need a hug to end or that I don’t want to hold her hand.

      When conversations about familial affection come up, I always squirm because the consensus is “Hugs from Mom! Who doesn’t want that?” and the answer is me. I don’t want a hug and that’s okay too.

    • Kelly says...

      Well, and I love getting hugs from my dad! I think the difference is he always asked to hug us or let us initiate. Giving affection on your terms is so different from having it extorted from you. It’s still 100% enjoyable to get a hug from my dad whenever. But even the thought of hugging my mom makes me cringe, especially because I know in front of other people, she’ll disregard me more, because she knows I don’t want to be embarrassed by physically removing her when she doesn’t listen to me asking to be let go.

    • Maria says...

      I have a big issue with my mother in law being very physical. She is not the type who hugs and kiss her friends and I have never seen her touch her own husband. But she constantly touches her sons and grandkids. Just unannounced touching. Coming from behind and stroking their face and lips, massaging their neck or hair. Suddenly starting to rub my husbands feet while watching tv. She also always wanted to touch my belly while I was pregnant. I can’t quite explain why it feels so off. But it is the contrast of her being so not physical with others and then sneeking up and just touch her sons and grandkids and generally just not keeping enough distance while being around us. You always bump in to her because she is leaning in closer than you would expect anyone who you are not about to have some sort of physical contact with to do. Or just standing really close while you are doing something, like cooking or talking to someone else. She is also not talking about emotions ever. And then suddenly bursting out sometimes. It is complicated.

  104. Carole says...

    I am 37 and I still kiss my parents on the lips, like others here… it’s a peck but i’ve never thought it to be weird or anything, it’s just what we’ve always done! My husband does find it a little odd because his family is much different but he now finds it endearing.

  105. Ella says...

    I’m not sure how well known this is but the urge to kiss your baby on the lips is actually so your body can survey how they’re doing and figure out what kind of breastmilk you need to be making for that day. Your body sort of tastes their body and decodes it. Breastmilk changes to accommodate for early signs of a cold, temperature regulation and so much more. So even if you’re not nursing that urge is actually your body doing it’s best to help your baby survive and be well. Once I learned that I felt even more in awe of the connection between mother and baby and the depth of our desire to nurture our kids successfully.
    My oldest is 8 (today!) and she still pecks me on the lips. I’m far past nursing her but I still hope my body registers some of those important health signs through any of our physical contact. That urge to nurture them as best as possible doesn’t go away and I’ll keep pressing them close to me whenever and wherever for as long as I can.

    • A says...

      The nursing relationship is so amazing. Isn’t there some kind of transfer between baby’s saliva and the nipple as well that helps the mother contribute antibodies in her milk if baby is getting sick? Nursing my 4 month old as I ask this! And yes, I kiss my darlings on the lips.

  106. Sam says...

    My mom always told us “short one on the lips, long one on the cheek” and I tell that to my son, otherwise he come at us with all his might! My parents were never ones to force a hug or kiss with anyone (family, friends, etc), and we’ve been cognizant of that with ours.

    My husband thinks I’m going to give our son a Freudian complex because he sees me naked after showers/while getting dressed though….

    • Sam says...

      I should also add that I don’t kiss my parents on the lips at all.

  107. Cassie says...

    My step-father was not especially good at verbalizing his feelings and he would often express love through physical touch. I remember once as a young teenager him driving me to school and placing his hand on my knee for just a moment, saying “When I do this, I am saying ‘I love you.'” I have always remembered that moment — I am well into my 30’s — and have replicated similar acts of love with my two young children.

  108. Madeleine says...

    I kiss my baby on the lips all the time. It just happens completely naturally. My husband never kisses him on the lips though. I think it’s very much a « mom thing ». Where I live, adults from the same family or even accointances briefly kiss on the lips when they see each other and I find it SO weird. I just cannot get used to it… Whenever someone’s tried to kiss me on the lips I’ve politely made it clear by turning my face to the side that it’s not for me. But between little ones and their moms I’m all for it!

  109. Meg says...

    My husband grew up in a lip kissing family and I didn’t discover it until we were engaged, and even though I was a little put off by him kissing his mom, I’m more curious about if there is a link between that and how bad of a kisser he is! Anyone else have this issue? It’s like he’s been pecking family all his life in a non-sexual way and now doesn’t know how special an intimate kiss can be! It drives me crazy, I don’t want to be kissed in the same way you kiss your mom! I think it sexually stunted him in that area sadly.

    • Katie says...

      I’ve given my dad a peck on the lips my entire life. I’m in my 30s. I assure you that I’ve not had a problem with past boyfriends or husband in the romantic or sensual kissing department. I don’t equate one type of kiss with the other in the slightest.

    • Leah says...

      This is hilarious! (And I’m sorry for your sad kissing situation!) I kissed my grandma on the lips until her death in my mid-twenties and I still kiss my dad (her son) on the lips. I’m not tooting my own horn but I’ve been told too many times to count that I’m a great (sexual) kisser. My brain doesn’t even process the two types of kisses as equal. One is purely platonic affection and the other lives in an entirely different sphere of my brain that processes physical pleasure. I can’t speak for your husband, but that’s my experience. You could always have fun giving him kissing lessons ;)

  110. Katie says...

    Grew up in small town U.S. where a lot of people are extremely reserved, including my parents. However, when leaving, there is a peck on the lips. I’m 39 and it still happens. I never thought it was weird? We’re mostly German descent.

  111. Rachel says...

    I actually had a really hard time as a child letting my family know I did not want to be kissed on the lips. There was never anything untoward about it, but I don’t remember ever being comfortable with it. I actually hated it and it turned me off of affection with my family in general, doing my best to avoid that one thing. It was incredibly frustrating being an introverted child who didn’t express myself well, so I would caution all you lip kissers to explicitly ask your children if they are okay with it. I finally made up a contagious disease that my whole family had and told them that’s why I couldn’t kiss them, but I so wish they had asked, or picked up on my body language.

  112. june says...

    I think teaching kids that they “are the bosses of their bodies” is so key as soon as they are old enough to express an opinion – like by age 3 or 4. My mother has always forced her very innocent and natural affection on us, to this day, due to HER fear that we would deny her – and ended up creating the very thing she was afraid of. So sad. But she is old school European and has lots of issues so. . . life.

  113. Maggie says...

    I kiss both of my boys (7 and 3) on the mouth. My husband and I tell our kids that there are many wondrous kinds of love in this world to experience and share. We also tell them that if love ever makes you or someone you are loving feel uncomfortable, heed that voice and speak up right away. I want my sons to know that if they don’t want to kiss me or anyone else THAT’S COOL, please self-advocate. That way if they’re ever in a position where someone else seems hesitant or is saying no, they know what it means to have that feeling honored and dignified. That’s a part of love, like kissing on the mouth can be.

  114. Laura Wright says...

    My three boys have each been different about this- my oldest was very affectionate but we never kissed him on the lips. He’s nearly ten now and starting to develop more awareness and need for privacy, but he’s still very open to a hug and goodnight kiss on the cheek or head. My middle son (5) is a mouth-kisser. At first it even made me uncomfortable because my parents never kissed us, but now I love it. My youngest (4) has started to mouth kiss too and likes to try to “trick” me by giving hugs when he says kisses and vice versa. I think showing affection to my boys is super important, especially because now their dad and I are separated and I’m the only female in the family (they live with me full time). I don’t want them to equate affection with ONLY romantic love. I want them to see that romantic love will go in an out of your life, maybe many times, but that the love from family/parents is ongoing and just as important.

  115. Kate says...

    I just love kissing my friends and loved ones, it makes me so happy! I don’t do it with everyone, but I have a handful of close lovely friends whom I almost always greet and say goodbye to with a kiss and an “I love you”. I especially love seeing my husband’s grandpa – he can be an extremely crotchety old man but he gets tickled when I give him a big ol’ smack on the lips! There’s something extremely special about a relationship that is simultaneously casual and easy but also so deep and important as to warrant something as dear as a kiss.

  116. KL says...

    “Did you know that the undeniable urge to cover your baby in kisses serves a biological purpose? When a mother kisses her baby, she samples the pathogens on baby’s face, which then travel to mom’s lymphatic system. Mom’s body then creates antibodies to fight those pathogens, which baby receives through breast milk.” Amazing right?!

  117. Kali says...

    I kiss them on the lips, hug them, snuggle them, hold their hands, smell their heads, rub their backs, tickle their necks … someday they won’t want me around so until then, I’ll just be over here, loving them up as much as I can.

  118. Amelia says...

    My 11-year-old son still kisses us and sits right next to me, arms and legs draped over me, but I always ask first before kissing and hugging. The physical closeness we have as a family spills over into his friendships. He and his buddies will all crowd into our oversized armchair while playing video games with no space in between (DH jokes we have no need for a sofa). I worry sometimes because I read that one “test” pedophiles do on kids is to sit very close to them to see if the child naturally moves away. I’ve explained (a number of times) to our son about his personal space and how an adult or teenager shouldn’t be right up next to him, and I just hope it sinks in.

  119. Colleen W Sprunger says...

    My one and only baby (so far!) is 21 months old and when we’re playing on the floor or he’s riding in the grocery cart….basically when I am close enough, he grabs my face with both hands a smooshes me right on the lips. Then he leans back waiting for my reaction, which is JOY always, and then it’s a cycle he can”t quit. Kisses, mama’s reaction, kisses, mama’s reaction. Oh my, it’s too precious, too sweet. I don’t feel like I can soak it up enough!

  120. Marie says...

    I was just thinking about how different my physical relationship with my children is from the one I had with my parents when I was growing up. I have a 9-year old and a 7-year old. I begin and end every single day by snuggling them in bed, usually all of us just in our underwear and t-shirts (that’s how we roll at home!) All day long, I am pecking their heads, kissing the smooth roundness of their cheeks, grabbing an arm or a hand for a smooch. And they are equally as affectionate: they climb into our laps, twirl their hands in my hair, and plant little kisses on my hands, arms and cheeks. My son has started kissing me on the mouth and at first, I felt strange. But then I thought of it from his perspective: its just a sweet, innocent affection. So now, occasionally, we smooch on the mouth. :) When I think of the feeling of their soft, skinny limbs, or the scent of their warm, sweaty heads during these moments of affection — that’s some of the most deeply gratifying emotional stuff I have ever experienced.

    I grew up in a house that was very not-touchy. We kissed goodnight (on the mouth!), but that was pretty much it. And even still, I have some trouble with receiving affection (except from my kids) — it feels awkward and uncomfortable after a moment. I hope with all my heart that my children grow up to be able to receive affection as freely and generously as they give it. I feel like it is such a gift!

    • Sara says...

      Marie, I agree with everything you’ve said here. I was afraid (before kids) that I’d be uncomfortable with all the touching and kissing from my children, but now I’m more comfortable than I’ve ever been with receiving and giving physical affection.
      Now I just have to make sure I have some saved up for my partner, some times it feels like my kids get it all and when they go to bed I need to be left alone. :)

  121. Kelli says...

    A few weeks ago I was lying in bed with my naked little two year old. And she (usually not a super cuddler) gave me the BIGGEST bear hug, while yelling “closer, mama, CLOSER!!!” and I hugged that little kid with every ounce of my being and just wished for the moment to never end. Ever since, if I’m stressed or blue or anxious, I think back to that hug and revel in the afterglow. I hope there are many more of those in our future.

  122. SoPregnant says...

    I have an almost 3 year old and am pregnant with my second. Before I was pregnant, I kissed her on the lips constantly. But once we started trying, my husband and I both stopped kissing our kiddo on the lips and sharing food. A dear friend had severe pregnancy complications due to CMV (https://www.cdc.gov/cmv/index.html) and it just didn’t seem worth the risk. It has been hard to remember every single time. Now that the new baby is almost here, I’m not sure what we will revert to.

  123. Adriana says...

    I have children (5, 2, and 1) that I smooch all over, including the lips! And when I put my oldest son to bed, he reaches up, grabs my neck and gives me the biggest smooch ever on the lips. It’s something I look forward to every night and if he ever stops, I am going to be so sad.

  124. Joana says...

    in portugal we don’t kiss children on the lips, kissing on the lips is meant for sexual/romantic interactions only. i actually find it extremely weird that it’s normal in other countries :)
    as for the rest, i also think it has to do with levels of comfort, etc, but children are still children and may not be as aware as we adults are about limits, i think… so for me there are very thin lines here and so i don’t have very strong opinions about the subject. bathing together, seeing parents naked, etc, are all things that were normal in my house, but i also believe there are ages where anything is acceptable and ages where that changes. and children probably need a little help in finding their personal space and privacy. i hated it, for example, when i had something on my face and my dad took it off, gently, with a little bit of spit. spit! and this is very normal (at least for us here), but i hated it and it took me awhile to say it :)
    i think these things should all be viewed as normal, and that there should be intimacy and closeness in a home, but i also think boundaries are essential. and that is why seeing parents kiss children on the lips freaks me out! :D

  125. Cathy says...

    My husband and I both kiss my 13 yo son and 10 yo daughter on the lips. It has been that way since they were born and has not changed yet. It was not something that we thought about, it just never changed! If ever they would rather not be kissed on the lips, I would respect that!
    My daughter also kisses my hand when we walk hand-in-hand. I guess it’s easier than to reach up to give me a kiss!
    I appreciate every hug I can get and never let go first.

  126. Mariah says...

    I grew up kissing my parents, and we still do that today when we see each other after a long time apart (which is most of the time, since we live on opposite coasts). It’s a very short peck on the lips followed by a BIG hug that is the most comforting feeling I know. One of my favorite photos from my wedding is me giving my dad a kiss. I’m getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about it!

    Now that I have kids of my own, we give kisses all the time, on both face and lips. To me it is part of the language of familial love and tenderness, and I cherish it.

  127. Janet Newhall says...

    I don’t think I’d ever questioned whether this was OK! I’m 40 and still kiss both my parents on the lips. Tiny little pecks of course, but with my kids, I’ll smooch my boys up as long as they let me (the 8 year old asked me to quit when he was about 6, but now welcomes those tiny little pecks). Smooches on the cheeks and hands? Not sure that I could ever stop! To me there is absolutely nothing at all sexual about any of it, and it genuinely took me back to see that is the case for some cultures, which I will now be very mindful of respecting. Though thanks to Jo, I have now incorporated always asking for permission to give, and never demanding in return any sort of affection from any child including my own.

  128. Elise says...

    People in Germany do kiss their children on the lips, (sometimes) but you won’t find that in Switzerland, nor in France, and not sure about southern Europe either. I had an American boyfriend back in my twenties and I remember being livid when he kissed his mom on the mouth to say bye when she left for a business trip. I would totally not do that to my children, and nor would my friends. But hey, everyone does as feels right to them. :)

    • Alexandra says...

      Hm, interesting. I grew up in Germany, and my parents kissed and hugged, but never kissed us on the lips, and my friends there don’t do that either. I guess everyone is doing it differently … I would not do it to my children. Funny also how different kids are: my daughter prefers to be asked when I want to kiss her, and our son (teenager) still comes and hugs me, and I so cherish to get these bear hugs from my tall gangly person now who is taller than I am (and I am 6 ft!)

  129. Emily says...

    I don’t have children, but I’m 33 and still peck my parents on the lips. It’s different from the way I’ve ever kissed a romantic partner. I guess I know it’s not the norm, but it’s the norm for us and so not something I think about (like this book, a staple of my childhood https://www.amazon.com/Sloppy-Kisses-Elizabeth-Winthrop/dp/0689714106 )

    • Hannah says...

      My sweet 4 year old boy wakes me every night (around 3am) with a tiny hand on my face and kisses on my lips. It might be my favorite part of my day. When my older daughter was this age and would wake me up by shouting “mommy!” I had much less of an appreciation of the night wakings!

  130. Nathalie says...

    My 8yo decided about 2 years ago that she’d rather kiss and be kissed on the cheek. My 14yo still gives me a quick smooch on the lips (when no one is around). My husband hugs and snuggles with the kids but they don’t really kiss.

  131. Holly says...

    I love that you posted that passage! It completely stayed me when I read that book. I bookmarked it and read it out loud to my own mom, teary-eyed, and then we both cried and hugged. My daughters are preschool-aged and I kiss them both on the lips, especially the younger one who constantly initiates it… though sometimes I regret having normalized this when, after a smootch, she pulls back and a long trail of snot stretches out between us…

    • Lena says...

      This made me smile. I have been there with the snot trail…….. so incredibly gross! And yet, those sweet kisses.

  132. Annie says...

    That passage from Little Fires Everywhere is so SPOT ON. My baby is almost 11 months and I think about that a lot.

    On a practical note — I love kissing my littles on the mouth. However, I can’t help but be worried about GERMS! It seems like we’re always swapping illnesses and I’d like to keep that sharing to a minimum! :)

  133. Tammy says...

    My husband and I wrote about our opposing views on this issue a few years ago! You can read it here https://bit.ly/2VwUmXE if you’d like :-)
    As the article states, I am still all in for mouth kisses with my sweet girls, now 6 and 8. That level of intimacy is precious. Plus, my best friend’s daughter is a teenager, so I have seen how the tide is destined to turn and I am hanging on as long as possible.

  134. Marci says...

    That passage is beautiful and describes my middle daughter. She is five now and sometimes I get overstimulated with her need for touching me, but this puts it in new light. I need to soak up the gift she’s giving me while it’s still being offered.
    I also agree with Gillian that my children differ with their comfort levels and touch preferences. I have to remind myself to ask my oldest daughter for a hug or if I can tickle her.
    I still kiss my parents on the lips (more often my mom than my dad), I let the kids lead with regard to kisses. My middle is the only one that still will kiss me solidly on the mouth. The youngest isn’t old enough to share his preference yet.

    • Kelly says...

      omg i need to read this and realize someone else is in the same boat. yesterday my 3 year old was clinging to my legs as i was trying to get dinner ready…and I had to stop and shut my eyes and take some deep breaths because I literally felt like i was going to absolutely FREAK OUT if she didn’t stop touching me.

  135. Katie says...

    Kissing my kids on the lips would require too much precision on a moving target. I do shower with my kids though. It’s just convenient, and I hope that being around naked bodies unashamedly means that they won’t always sexualize other’s bodies as they get older. When they get to the point of wanting privacy, I’ll happily honor that. If I’m being honest though, at the ages of 5 and 2, there’s not enough hours in the day for modesty.

    • Sam says...

      I agree! My husband does not see it quite that way.

  136. Maggie says...

    My two-year-old loves to put both hands on my cheeks and pull me in for a slobbery, snotty kiss on the mouth, and I could not love it any more.

  137. Lizzy says...

    It is a sweet surprise when my 2-year-old daughter kisses me on the lips. It is wonderful.
    A lot of married people complain that contact with their spouse has been reduced to quick pecks on the mouth–point being that sexual contact has ceased. So I don’t really understand how a peck on the mouth from your adoring and adored child could be construed as sexual contact.
    I forever cherish saying goodnight to my children and hearing my daughter say “Kiss, mommy!” while sitting up to kiss me square on the mouth (my son, who is 5, no longer wants to kiss on the mouth and I totally respect that). These days of childhood are precious and I am so filled with gratitude for the chance to be close with my beautiful children.

  138. H says...

    I can’t wait to read the comments on this post! I don’t kiss my baby on the lips, but I couldn’t tell you why. I kiss her everywhere else and LOTS on the cheeks and top of the head. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but not sure that’s for me. Maybe I associate it with romantic partners?

  139. Kristina says...

    That passage made me tear up. As a mom of three boys ages 8, 10 & 13, I joke with them that the greatest tragedy of their mother’s life is that (gasp!) they are growing up. For the past couple of months, my 13 year-old has had his first girlfriend, mutual crush, or whatever you call the awkwardness of junior high relationships. Every part of me longs for it to just be over, the way normal hormone-fueled love changes from day to day. The hugs still come from him willingly, but they’ve grown shorter and less intimate with every day his adolescent body goes through changes. So I find myself retreating to the younger two who are still open and affectionate, despite the fact they are edging every day toward the same changes.

  140. Betsy says...

    I have 21-month old twin boys and kiss them on the lips all of the time. My husband kisses them a lot too — but never on the mouth, really. I think it comes down to what a parent is comfortable with and what constitutes a comfortable level of affection for one person might not for another. I don’t know if I’ll always kiss them on the mouth as they grow (they might not want me to one day!), but I love their little baby lips!

    • Eliza says...

      We’re very affectionate with our kids and we always kiss our kids on the lips but my husband has stopped lip-kisses and sticks to cheek-kisses as both kids entered preschool and started coming home with a lot of colds! I still do because I figure I’ll probably get sick anyways and are their cheeks that much cleaner than their lips?!

  141. J says...

    Wow, The last part about the apple metaphor.
    Yes. I definitely show more physical affection for my 3 year old son than I received as a kid. We say I love you often, we talk about feelings and anger, and we smooch on the lips. Then he’ll say “I wanna do tiny kisses on this cheek -peck peck- and BIG KISSES on this cheek! SMOOCH SMOOCH on my other cheek. It’s so cute. Yesterday he held up my bra and asked “Is this for your nipples?” Yes, honey. I don’t cruise the house in the nude, I like to put underwear on at the least, but teaching him bodies are good and strong is one of my priorities as a mom. I will say, I’m so not looking forward to the day and person he picks to tell about the butterfly tattoo on my butt! lol

  142. Laura says...

    I grew up with very limited signs of affection and used to feel icky when I saw parents kids their children on the mouth. But now? I’m not sure there’s much else sweeter than a tiny puckered mouth aiming straight for mine.❤️ (And I love Celeste Ng! My heart ached when I read that passage, it’s spot on.)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      nothing sweeter!!!

  143. txilibrin says...

    Does this have to do with how your relationship with your parents was? Or how your household was when you were growing up? I think so. I still kiss my parents in the mouth, since I have a husband it is kind of weird now, but I can tell you i’ve done that until I was about 30… Also, I was always going to the shower naked (because I threw my dirty clothes in the washing machine in the kitchen and go to the bathroom from there!), and I remember seeing both my parents naked more often than not and it always felt natural.
    So with my kid I do the same. I won’t run around naked but if he sees me, it is totally fine by me. I bath with him once in a while and so does his dad. Also, now that I’m pregnant, he loves when I put cream on my belly, and he asks me to do the same to his tiny baby belly. Both half naked playing around.
    I love it! And I’d love for him and his soon to be brother to do the same. Naked people are just people, kisses are just affection shown. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “Naked people are just people, kisses are just affection shown.” = love that

    • Emily R says...

      I grew up in a naked household and I don’t mind mouth kisses with babies or parents or even friends. I know not everyone feels that comfortable, but I love that most of my friends feel the same.

      Life is short, I’ll take love and physical affection where I can get it.

  144. Gillian says...

    I have 4 kids and their preferences and comfort levels with touch are all different. My 11 yo is definitely beyond wanting to be snuggled and cuddled. He is also nearly as big as I am. He has also become very modest. My 8 yo daughter doesn’t like to be kissed and has recently developed some modesty and I respect that. She does love to snuggle still. My 3 yo is still a rolly round cuddly fellow happy to run half- or even fully naked around the house and we shower together frequently.

    But my 5 yo! Now he is a kisser! Full on the lips, often many times in a row. In any location or setting including at the door of school at drop off in the morning. I treasure his open displays of affection because I know in 6 or even just 3 years from now he may grow self-conscious of such open displays of affection with us. Plus right now it makes him so happy.

  145. Nadya says...

    I am completely open with my five year old. She has seen me naked, she bathes and showers with me, and we kiss on the lips (except for when one of us is really sick-the flu was rough last year). We have even talked about periods because she often follows me into the bathroom.

    I go to a CrossFit box in the mornings and shower there before heading into work. My daughter loves going into the locker room when I get ready there. She sees all different kinds of shapes of bodies. The women range in age from 18 to 75, some are mamas and some are grandmamas. We might all look very different but we are all healthy strong women. It is really important to me that she sees her body as totally natural, healthy, and strong.

    She also loves the locker room too because she sees women doing their hair, using different lotions, and applying make up. She came out of there last Friday and said, “so tell me about the lady with the smoking hair!” Hahaha! She saw someone using a flatiron for the first time and was mesmerized!

  146. Claire says...

    Growing up, my parents never kissed my brother or I on the lips, and I always had the idea that lip-kissing was something reserved for couples romantically entangled. I still cringe at the idea of kissing your child on the lips. The first kiss is such a momentous moment in a relationship, and a beautiful way to show intimacy – very different from the love you’d want to show your child.

  147. Jojo says...

    This also a cultural thing. We don’t kiss our kids on the lips. I’ll kiss them just about anywhere but kissing on the lips is something akin to sexual contact. My parents would never kiss us on the lips. Once, my MIL did it to my daughter (who them said “Yuck!” and rubbed her face madly) and I was livid. Maybe you can compare this with cultures where it is normal for children and adults to pee publicly in the street. For me, it’s disgusting but just as long as you don’t kiss my children, we are OK…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i think it might be a cultural thing. i just texted some friends about it, and my brazilian friend said that it’s a no-no in brazil. but my american friends were like “100% all day every day.”

  148. Awads says...

    I am always, always cuddling and smooching my son (now 11). But neither I, nor my husband, have ever kissed him on the lips. One reason, for me, is that i carry the herpes cold sore virus (simplex 1) that someone (my dad) passed on to me in childhood. Even when I don’t have an active cold sore (99.9% of the time), i never want my son to get that from me. Actually, i don’t want to pass any germs on to him. And another reason is it just seems too intimate, reserved for romantic partners.

    As far as nudity, i hate my son catching me naked!! i would love some privacy. He’s finally at the age where he’d rather not see me nude either, but for a long time he’d laugh and point. kids!!!!

    • Chris says...

      This is the thing that stops me! I don’t have it, but I have family members (who are pro kissing kiddos on lips) who do, so I know I seem stilted and pushy (not that I say specifically why!) when I tell them nobody kisses my kids on the lips. This is actually a topic that caused me a ridiculous amount of worry during my first pregnancy; I’m the youngest in my family, so, by the time my kids came along, we had an established history of parents and grandparents kissing kids, and I was anxious to disrupt that.

      For all other intents and purposes, we are very affectionate and open with our kiddos, but it’s harder, I think, to draw the line for extended family if they see you do it.