I kiss both my parents on the lips with pride

This appeared on The Telegraph February 2016

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Sam Faiers, of the The Only Way Is Essex, launched her new TV show The Baby Diaries on Sunday night. But according to Twitter, no one was paying much attention to her – instead they were focused on her boyfriend and the father of their newborn son, Paul Knightley.

What had Paul done to warrant such attention?  Had he dropped the baby? Was he not doing his fair share of nappy changes?

No, he kissed his mother.

Yes that’s right, a 27-year -old man kissed his mum affectionately on the lips and internet users lost their minds.

On Twitter, people likened it to him still being breastfed, labelling it ‘awkward’, ‘VOM’, ‘the creepiest thing they had ever seen’ and even went as far to suggest that it was incest. Their reaction was far stronger than light-hearted joking and ridicule – this was absolute revulsion at the relationship between Paul and his mum.

A quick Google search on ‘kissing your parents’ will pull up a whole thread of forums with discussions and studies on the psychology behind it. Should parents encourage it? Will it confuse children? How can you differentiate between a “mummy and daddy” kiss and a kiss with your children?

The general consensus seems to be that when it comes to kissing your kids, it’s only OK if they are still children. Kissing babies and toddlers is sweet and reinforces positive relationships but if you go beyond that threshold – to primary school kids, teens and, dare I say it, adults – it becomes invasive, uncomfortable and sexual.

Some of these studies are far too analytical. If a parent wants to kiss their child as a show of affection, and importantly, if the child doesn’t feel uncomfortable being kissed, then I really cannot see what the problem is.

I’m a 25-year-old woman and I am not embarrassed to say that I still kiss my parents. On the lips.

I don’t tend to broadcast this (in the same way I wouldn’t with any type of PDA – be it with my fiancé or my father) but that doesn’t mean it’s a dirty secret.

I’m proud of it because it shows the loving relationship I have with my parents. It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter that I still kiss both my mum and my dad on the lips. I grew up in a very affectionate family where kissing, hugging and saying ‘I love you’ was an everyday thing and never something I thought very much about – let alone felt uncomfortable with.

A kiss goodnight; a quick peck as they dropped me off at the train station when I was heading back to university and even today, when I live in my own house with my partner, I don’t give a second thought to kissing my parents on the lips when they walk through my front door.

 It’s simply a way to show our love for each other – nothing more, nothing less. People ask if there’s any difference between me kissing my mum on the lips than to kiss my dad. But of course is doesn’t – why would it? It is not a sexual thing where I am acutely aware about the gender of the person I’m kissing; they’re just my parents.

Of course I’ve suffered that familiar humiliation of being dropped off at a friend’s house or at the school gates and quickly turning my cheek so the parental kiss didn’t land on my mouth. My parents completely understood my fear of looking uncool and childish.

Kissing your child is about showing love and support and my parents knew that in those instances when I was an awkward pre-teen, the best way to show me their support would be to not hug and kiss me to save me embarrassment. To me that was just as comforting as a kiss and a cuddle.

Some women, and men, view that part of the female body as something sexual, reserved only for intimate relationships and totally off-limits to children. In the same way, people view kissing on the lips as sexual instead of a mere showing of affection.

When Paul kissed his mum on this much-circulated clip, it did look like a longing embrace but it needed context. His mum was clearly emotional and Paul came across as a kind and caring man who clearly thinks a lot of his mum and has a close relationship with her. Is that really something to throw up your arms in revolt over?

It’s incredibly sad that in 2016 people can even be judged for having loving relationships with their parents. ‘Parental PDAs’ are not the ‘disturbing’ and ‘sinister’ actions people seem to think. So regardless of what Twitterati are chirruping, I can guarantee that there’s nothing wrong with showing affection to your loved ones – whether that’s through a hug or a kiss on the lips.

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