How did we ever reach a point where ‘Is it OK to kiss your kids?’ was actually asked multiple times around the world in apparently reputable news outlets? Angela Cuming looks at one of this week’s most infuriating parenting stories.
Here are things parents do that I find weird:
- Smacking their kids
- Bullying their kids
- Letting their kids watch Paw Patrol
- Raising their kids not to be accepting and welcoming of people from different cultures, countries, and religions
- Not being loving and accepting toward their LGBT kids
Here is something parents do that I don’t find weird:
- KISSING THEIR CHILDREN ON THE LIPS
I wish that could be the end of it, but it’s not, because yet again parents are being shamed for kissing their kids.
This time it was David Beckham’s turn because the poor bloke, a loving father of four, happened to post on social media a photo of him and his daughter Harper, who is six years old. They were kissing each other. On the lips.
Now, I don’t have a problem with that. At all. That would be like having a problem with the sun rising or birds chirping or reruns of Gossip Girl on free-to-air when you’ve got the house to yourself or watching that clip of Donald Trump being attacked by the bald eagle.
But there are a few dicks out there and they had a problem with it so they commented on Beckham’s photo that he was WEIRD and UNNATURAL and STRANGE and then suddenly everyone from the Independent newspaper to Good Housekeeping magazine was running the photo with headlines like ”David Beckham sparks parenting debate by kissing his daughter”.
Here’s the thing. Kissing your child on the lips, the cheek, the forehead, whatever, is absolutely fine. It’s wonderful, even. It means you love them, they love you and you have a wonderful way of showing your affection for each other. And there is no age limit on that, by the way. It doesn’t matter if they are one-month-old or one-year-old or 10 years or 20 or 50. Kissing is okay no matter the age.
I have three little boys, Charlie is three and twins Tommy and Henry are 20 months. We are big on kissing. It’s lovely. I say to Charlie ”Give me a kiss” and he smooches me and giggles and then he says ”I love you with all my heart forever and ever.”
Now, I don’t know what part of that people would have a problem with, but I can tell you there is nothing wrong or odd or weird with it at all.
The irony is if that I smacked him across the backside a good deal of New Zealanders (Family First supporters in particular) would pat me on the back for being a good mum. But kissing? Hell no apparently.
And it’s not just the keyboard warriors who need to sort themselves out.
Why on earth is it that some punter somewhere in the world can say a bunch of nasty crap on a person’s Instagram post and – boom! – that’s a legitimate news story. At the risk of sounding like a crazy letter-to-the-editor writer, who on earth actually cares that someone calling themselves @swedeinaus has a problem with anything at all?
I mean, I know all you have to do these days is chuck the words ”Controversy over [insert celebrity name here] ”and you’ve got yourself some good old clickbait but there needs to be consideration given to the flow on effects of what is published.
I am sure there were quite a few parents – in particular first time parents – who will read the stories and see the online polls asking things like ”Is it OK to kiss your kids on the lips?” (Answer B was “No. It does seem a bit weird) and start to question themselves. They may think that, given a respected news site says it can be viewed as weird, it might be time to stop kissing their little one on the lips and stick to a much more poll-friendly pat on the head instead.
And this isn’t isn’t even the first time the Beckhams have copped it for showing affection for their kids. Mum Victoria was the subject of similar screaming headlines – including CNN’s awful ”Victoria Beckham’s kiss with daughter – Is it wrong?'” when she posted a photo of her and little Harper kissing.
Poor Harper probably will wind up in therapy one day, but not because of the kissing but because of all the insane media attention. SHE’S A CHILD, PEOPLE!
I get that there’s always going to be public interest in mega celebrities like David Beckham. But honestly, the man is also a dad, probably an incredibly boring one behind closed doors, and not everything he says or does or posts a photo of, needs to be headline news. And similarly, not every dickhead thing that every dickhead person says in the comments section of a social media post needs to be regurgitated into a news story.
I will keep on kissing my three little boys until they tell me to stop. When that happens I will keep kissing them, and no doubt embarrassing them, until there is not a breath left in my body. I am not weird or strange or a pervert. I am not going to mess them up or stunt their emotional growth (Paw Patrol probably will though) and I am not going to give them women issues or mother issues or kissing issues or anything other issue (other than a hatred of Paw Patrol).
So please, enough know with kiss shaming and enough with the stories about parents kissing their kids. Unless you have a photo of Justin Trudeau kissing his children on the lips in a Canadian forest as white doves fly over their heads and Emmanuel Macron is in the background stoking a campfire on which to toast marshmallows and make hot chocolate. If you want to publish that photo, I am here for it.
Angela Cuming is a print and radio journalist and a mum to three boys under three. You can read more of her writing at www.angelacuming.wordpress.com.