What do Victoria Beckham, The Game and Bill Belichick have in common? In the most unlikeliest of links, they have all found themselves being subjected to public debate on the rights and wrongs of the Parent-Child Kiss.
In their quest to show the world just how much they love their daughter, David and Victoria Beckham shared on their individual Instagram accounts two adorable pictures to celebrate Harper’s fifth birthday.
David kicked it off (no punt intended) with Harper giving him a peck on his cheek. This parent-child kiss was greeted with the usual heart-melting messages. However, when wife Victoria shared her sweet snap, the internet woke up.
What was meant to be the sweetest of birthday snaps by two proud parents, this photograph of Victoria and Harper kindled a debate about whether parents should kiss their children on the lips.
Many of Victoria’s so-called followers did not hold back and a glance at their comments could so easily put them in the parenting shamers category. Those objecting used words such as ”inappropriate”, ”disgusting” and ”horrible”, but thankfully there were an army of responders that believed in the statement ”each to their own” who leapt to Victoria’s defence.
Using Victoria’s images as an example BBC Trending tried to shed some light on the topic of the parent-child kiss by consulting the social etiquette expert, Liz Brewer, and this is what she had to say:
Normally with a member of your family you don't kiss on the lips unless it's your husband … With children, I wouldn't have thought it's a particularly good habit to get into but it's her child and she's at liberty to do what she thinks is best.
I would be uncomfortable doing that and I think most people would be. If she feels it's appropriate, so be it. I wouldn't say it sets a particularly good example.
Whilst I am a great fan of etiquette, as the very premise of it is putting other people first, I am somewhat alarmed to hear Liz Brewer say that she doesn’t think it sets a good example. Example for what? Does this action suggest that your child will start kissing everyone in sight? Become sexual? I am confused and lost at sea by this statement, which indeed is shared by those who believe there is an issue in parent-child kissing. And it appears that every time a celeb expresses their love for their kids in a parent-child kiss this topic rears its head.
Ever since LA rapper The Game rose to fame with his debut album in 2005, he has been something of a controversial figure. No stranger to social media backlash, The Game did not know what he was opening up by sharing a picture on his Instagram account that showed him kissing his five-year-old daughter on the lips, all in the name of celebrating father’s day.
This innocent snap stimulated a huge debate about whether a father should ever kiss his daughter on the lips, with some stepping up to defend The Game, and others taking the opposing stance.
What I found fascinating was the fact that the discussion should be about a father kissing his daughter on the lips - what about a father kissing his son on the lips? And more importantly, what about a mother who has spent the best part of a year carrying her child, along with dealing with sleepless nights for the first year of her child’s existence, is she allowed to kiss her daughter or son on the lips? Have we become a self-righteous society? The inconsistency of views shared by society is plain to be see, as a different question was asked when Bill Belichick kissed his daughter in 2015.
Not many of us normal folk will ever experience the euphoria of winning the Super Bowl once. So when New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick in 2015 was pictured celebrating his fourth Super Bowl victory by kissing his adult daughter, Amanda Belichick, on the lips, the photo received worldwide coverage. Within moments of this personal encounter the image was doing the social media rounds like wildfire. Once again, as with The Game, there were those that leapt to Bill’s defence with words such as ”sweet” and ”intimate moment between a family”. But there were many that labelled it ”super weird”, ”aggressive” and ”making out”.
This time an alternative question was asked: if there is an age parents shouldn’t kiss their son or daughter on the lips?
Interestingly, it is very clear from a second image below, where Bill is embracing both son and daughter in a happily loving manner, that this dad was just happy with his achievements and wanted to share this with those that were close to him.
In an attempt to figure out this magical age we should all stop kissing our kids on the lips, New York Daily News spoke to a New York City etiquette expert, Elaine Swann. On the topic of the ideal age to stop kissing your kids Swann could not be specific, but she suggested that it's an age far younger than Belichick's 30-year-old daughter. She had this to say:
Adult parents should probably not be kissing their adult children on the lips, in public. We are judged by the way we behave so we have to be mindful of how we're perceived by others when we're in a public place, no matter what you're celebrating.
Swann told the Daily News that her own Panamanian descent makes her a bit hands-on with her family and she said of Bill Belichick that his ancestry links may have influenced his behaviour. Apparently, those from Croatia have a culture where they are hands-on with their family. Is this not what each of us should be doing with our family? Being hands–on?
Before my kids were born I had always had the view that I would kiss my children on the lips. I have not sat in the dark deliberating this, but past discussions with friends provoked me to give this parent-child kiss topic a thought. I am happy to say that, with the birth of my kids, I have not felt any different and freely in private as well as in public plant kisses on my kids’ lips, not to aggravate because I am simply following my natural feelings. Whilst I understand that good etiquette places others first, I try to keep all my kisses to a peak and quick, this way I express my heartfelt love to my kids whilst limiting the effect for those that may find it offensive.
Whilst I fully understand others’ feelings, I do not share that view that kissing a son or daughter on the lips is an unusual practice. Are we trying to pigeonhole a parent’s natural feeling and, at worse, are we sexualising it?
Is it this sexualisation by those seeing it that is causing unease about these innocent snaps? Which in turn is causing trepidation? I fully respect all those that say that parent-child kissing on the lips is not for them, but surely there is nothing in it and it should be a parent's choice as to whether they consider it appropriate or not?