I was sincerely appalled to see the controversy that surrounded Victoria Beckham’s sweet family photo with her 5-year-old daughter. I’ve noticed a lot of celebrity parents have been under fire lately. Where I grew up, no one would have given this a second glance at being unusual. It’s always reassuring to see parents showing their children healthy affection, especially in a world where organizations like Child Protective Services are overloaded with case work.
I remember the day my mother sat me down and told me it wasn’t appropriate for us to kiss on the lips anymore. I don’t remember how old I was but I did find the conversation strange at the time. Whatever age I happened to be, I didn’t understand why this change was occurring so I must have been on the younger age of the spectrum. If I were to guess, it was probably at the dawn of the golden age of puberty. I started young. Looking back at these memories, I do believe there is an age when the general public could find the act of a parent kissing their son/daughter on the lips as inappropriate. I don’t know what the magic number is but I strongly believe that five is not it. Any normal parent-child relationship doesn’t look at kissing each other as anything more than a physical sign of love.
When did we become so politically correct as a society that it became deemed inappropriate to kiss our children? Ten years ago, this wasn’t an issue, so why is it now? What changed? I get that we want to protect our children and teach them proper boundaries but since that is the parent’s job to do so, the parent should be the one to choose what that looks like. As a society, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge different forms of parenting practices. I think we can all agree it’s a very difficult job, one layered with insecurities on making the right decisions. In the past, I often judged other parents even though I was not a parent myself. That soon changed before my daughter even hit the age of one. In fact, I found myself doing a lot of the things I had previously looked down on. Why? Because sometimes you just have to do what works and not question it too much. Kids have their own minds and they aren’t afraid to use them.
One thing I do want to pass on to my daughter is the concept of healthy touch. There are cases when kissing and hugging are completely appropriate and welcomed. Then there are cases when they aren’t. This segmentation obviously has a lot to do with various factors that come into play like who, when and how. I want my daughter to know the difference. I want her to know what good touch looks like and the best way to do that is to show her myself.
So, facing the possibility of contempt, I can honestly state that I too will kiss my sweet two-year-old on the lips until I feel it is no longer appropriate to do. I don’t know when that time is but I don’t have any doubts that I’ll know it when it comes. Until then, I’m just going with the flow of parenting and enjoying the ride.
Jillian Pedersen is a plus sized mom from Austin, Texas. She is the creator of Thighs and Lows Blog and Thighs and Lows Blog Facebook group, an online community that encourages and empowers women of every size to appreciate who they are right now. Jillian is an advocate for the body positive movement.