Child psychologist and UCLA professor Dr. Charlotte Reznick has sparked controversy among parents by saying that kissing your kids on the lips is “too sexual.”
Franceska Kentish, writing for the UK Metro, reports that an article on the British love and relationship website YourTango referenced Reznick’s statement. The actual quote is:
“The kiss on the lips can be stimulating … It’s just too confusing. If mommy kisses daddy on the mouth and vice versa, what does that mean, when I, a little girl or boy, kiss my parents on the mouth?”
“If I had to answer when to stop kissing your kids on the lips, it would be now.”
Online and on talk radio, her comments have divided parents and created heated debates. Some parents were incredulous that the idea would even warrant discussion, while others were proud that they shared their love with their children with a kiss. One parent said she still kisses her parents on the lips, while another said she was creeped out when she saw parents kiss their kids on the mouth. There were even parents who thought the act was perverted.
Experts, too, got involved in the discussion. Clinical psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack told the British newspaper The Sun that kissing a child on the lips is harmless:
“There’s absolutely no way that kissing a young child on the lips is confusing for them in any way. That’s like saying breastfeeding is confusing. Some people might have issues with it, but it isn’t any more sexual than giving a baby a back rub.”
Reznick first broached the subject in 2010 when she commented on a picture of Harry Connick, Jr. kissing his eight-year-old daughter on the lips, writes Nicola Oakley of the Mirror. Her reaction at that time was to ask, “When do you stop?” She added that when a child gets to be 4, 5 or 6, they become sexually aware, so a kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them.
“Even if that never occurs to a child, it’s just too confusing!”
Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a family therapist, does not agree. He says that parents need to keep boundaries in place with their children, but kissing a child on the lips seems perfectly normal to him.
Sharon Silver, a Proactive Parenting coach, says if a child feels weird about kissing on the lips then it’s time to stop. Otherwise, she continues, a normal, non-sexual intuitive touch point between parent and child is certainly not taboo. In fact, research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that babies with moms who were affectionate grew up to be “more resilient, less anxious adults,” writes Jennifer O’Neill of Yahoo! News.
CBS radio station US99.5’s Shila Nathan reports that Reznick, the author of The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety Into Joy and Success, says confusion starts because lips are considered an erogenous zone and when a parent kisses a child on the lips, it may cause issues.
One comment made by a listener went like this: if you are a smoocher and your kid does not care, kiss on!