If I tell you that I kiss my boys on their lips, how will you react? Will you recoil in horror, thinking I have crossed some weird boundary or will you shrug because – you know – we’re mums and that’s what we do?
My oldest child Harry is nearly three and in all that time it has never, ever occurred to me that kissing him on the mouth isn’t okay. He’ll wriggle into my lap in that sleepy half hour before bed, turn a milk-moustached mouth up to mine and plant a big smackeroo on my lips. If I’m really lucky, he’ll mutter a sleepy ‘I love you, Mummy’ at the same time. I treasure those moments and I treasure those kisses.
Baby Olly is a bit too young for face kisses, he’ll try to latch onto your nose if you kiss him anywhere near his mouth. Right now I content myself with snatched kisses on top of his head, on the gloriously baby-scented back of his neck, on his pudgy baby tummy, even on his bottom if he’s just out of the bath. I’ll kiss him anywhere I in the rare moments he’s sitting still.
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So I was really shocked to discover that some people think it’s wrong kiss your children on the mouth. In fact, it’s a really contentious issue on some parenting blogs and forums.
Mums talk about how it makes them ‘uncomfortable’; one apologises for ‘sounding like a prude’ but says it’s just wrong. ‘Sounding like a prude?’ I can’t understand how it’s even an issue for prudery.
Then I read one blog that explained what makes people so uncomfortable. “Lips,” this blogger declared “are for lovers. Not children.”
Hmmm. Okay, at least now I understand the issue people have. If you see lip kissing as an intimate act you only do with a lover then of course you’ll find it inappropriate with children.
I do agree that it’s intimate, but that’s why it feels so normal with my children. The intimacy of a mother and her child is far greater than between two lovers; I have grown my babies, birthed them, breastfed them, bathed them and changed their bottoms. How strange it would seem to then decide mouth kissing is too intimate.
Of course, if mouth kissing seems to you to be only a sexual thing, then I can completely understand why it makes you uncomfortable when I kiss my children on the lips.
But it doesn’t seem that way to me. Yes I kiss my husband on the lips when we’re – what does Mumsnet call it? Baby dancing – but I will also kiss him in passing, when we say goodnight, when he comes home from work and when he surprises me with a cup of tea. Kissing is a sign of friendship to me, of closeness and intimacy. Of course it’s normal for me to kiss my kids too.
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I wouldn’t be surprised if I stop kissing their lips as they get older and our relationship becomes less close, but I certainly don’t think it’s weird now.
That doesn’t mean I want other people to kiss my boys on the lips, any more than I want anyone and everyone to kiss me on the lips. It’s intimate and close, where a cheek kiss is affectionate but more restrained. Apart from grandparents, I don’t think anyone should be kissing us Hannahs on the lips; not me, not my husband and not my children.
And now that I come to think about it, you probably don’t want to. The gap between my boys’ noses and mouths seems permanently gooey – if they don’t have colds then they’ve smeared their faces with cherries or chocolate. Sometimes they have colds AND they’ve smeared their faces with cream cheese or houmous. I won’t lie, it’s horrific. I wipe their mouths about 18 times an hour, but it’s like painting the Forth Road Bridge; no sooner have I finished than it needs doing again.
In short, if you don’t want to kiss your kids on the mouths then that’s fine; different families have different boundaries. But if you’re uncomfortable when I do it then rest assured, it’s only a sign of the purest affection I feel for those snotty, houmous-smeared, loving little boys.
What do you think, is kissing your kids on the mouths weird or wonderful? Have your say using the comments below.