child

Kissing Kids on the Lips!

So lately there’s been a flurry of on-line activity on an attachment parenting forum that I follow around the issue of children kissing on their parents on the lips as a sign of affection. Most people are of the opinion that this is a personal choice that each family has the right to make and that the family should act according to its family rules, values, traditions and beliefs. To me this is the obvious response given that no one family is in a position to tell another family how to act or behave, or what is right or wrong.

One mother’s answer, however, resonated with me quite strongly. She stated the following:

“I have been thinking about this for 3-4 days now before I responded, trying to be sensitive to other cultures and other ideas. I have thought it over, but in the end, I am just plain sad. I can’t say it any other way. I am sad and disappointed that other kids can’t kiss their parents on the lips if they really want to. This seems VERY awkward to me. WHY is this not ok? How is this so different than the cheek? Really analyze that…cheek vs. lips…why does it matter?

What I worry about is that the kid gets to see you freely kissing your partner/spouse on the lips, but they are forbidden from doing so. Thus, for me, this translates into “You, young child are something different, you must NOT kiss me on the lips, you don’t deserve it, you are not worthy, it is some kind of special something reserved for ______. Reserved for WHAT??? For me, this feels essentially that this kissing on the lips action (in a child’s mind) is BAD.

So, kids can’t achieve this worthiness until they are mature…dare I day “sexually ready”? What kind of signal does THAT send? I don’t want to equate romantic kissing with sexual readiness. I think exploring is good and healthy…if my girls can’t be comfortable here with us, where CAN they be comfortable to explore?

I get that this is a culturally relevant issue. I live in a white, American culture that is rather stuffy and we work hard to overcome that. Maybe too much so. I don’t know. What I do know is that we kiss our kids freely on the lips every day and they do so to us without hesitation and we don’t want that to change that at all.”

I thought that this was a balanced perspective which brings in the idea that the EuroAmerican culture traditionally eschews physical affection and physical touch creating a forbidden fruit type of culture. The idea of the naked body in the U.S. is much more taboo compared to other cultures to the point that we cover our children up long before children in other countries are expected to wear bathing suits in public. Isn’t it healthy for children to be able to run around without clothes and to normalize the naked body? By covering our children up so young, the naked body is over sexualized and glimpsing a naked breast is equated to the consumption of pornography. (This ties in, of course, with the current issue of women breastfeeding in public.)

As a woman who grew up without ever seeing her parents kiss in public and showing very little physical affection, I find it comforting to know that other families are also trying to change the generational taboo of physical affection and touch. Granted, I realize that in certain cultures, such as the Muslim culture, this may not be an acceptable practice; however, I am not raising my child in a Muslim culture. I am raising her here, in the U.S., in a different country with its own level of conservative beliefs and I will continue to foster a sense of comfort with love, touch, affection and kissing on the lips, as long as she is comfortable with this act.

Many thanks to the mom from the forum who granted me permission to quote her post. It takes a village to educate a nation.

Related Posts:
Breastfeeding is Universal  (www.singlemomontherun.com)
Attachment Parenting is Not a Four Letter Word (www.singlemomontherun.com)

DOCUMENTARY Play Again: What are the consequences of a child removed from nature?

http://playagainfilm.com/film-synopsis/Image

This is an amazing documentary about children who are “wired in” for seriously long periods of time a day. Hundreds of texts every day, hours in front of the computer screen, gaming, on-line chats. For some of them, the computeer is their social life. Chidlren who have difficulty connecting to other children socially may also fall prey to this easy way of what feels like connecting to others.

Humans have an innate need to connect to other people. Their survival and well-being depends on it. For children who may be on the margins (obese, socially inept, shy), the world of computers leaves their deficits and the reality of social interactions behind.

If you get a chance to view this documentary I would highly recommend it. It can also be purchased for a reasonable price and you and parents in your social circle could view it together and have a discussion.

Synopsis(CineSinopsis)

From the website:

http://playagainfilm.com/film-synopsis/

“One generation from now most people in the U.S. will have spent more time in the virtual world than in nature. New media technologies have improved our lives in countless ways. Information now appears with a click. Overseas friends are part of our daily lives. And even grandma loves Wii.

But what are we missing when we are behind screens? And how will this impact our children, our society, and eventually, our planet? At a time when children play more behind screens than outside, PLAY AGAIN explores the changing balance between the virtual and natural worlds. Is our connection to nature disappearing down the digital rabbit hole?

This moving and humorous documentary follows six teenagers who, like the “average American child,” spend five to fifteen hours a day behind screens. PLAY AGAIN unplugs these teens and takes them on their first wilderness adventure – no electricity, no cell phone coverage, no virtual reality.

Through the voices of children and leading experts including journalist Richard Louv, sociologist Juliet Schor, environmental writer Bill McKibben, educators Diane Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, neuroscientist Gary Small, parks advocate Charles Jordan, and geneticist David Suzuki, PLAY AGAIN investigates the consequences of a childhood removed from nature and encourages action for a sustainable future.

Where we are coming from

Seventy years ago, the first televisions became commercially available. The first desktop computers went on sale 30 years ago, and the first cell phones a mere 15 years ago. During their relatively short tenure these three technologies have changed the way we live. Some of these changes are good. Television can now rapidly disseminate vital information. Computers turned that flow of information into a two-way street. Cell phones enable unprecedented connectivity with our fellow human beings. And the merging of cell phones and the internet has even allowed protest movements around the world to organize and thrive.

But there’s also a down side. For many people, especially children, screens have become the de facto medium by which the greater world is experienced. A virtual world of digitally transmitted pictures, voices, and scenarios has become more real to this generation than the world of sun, water, air, and living organisms, including fellow humans.

The average American child now spends over eight hours in front of a screen each day. She emails, texts, and updates her status incessantly. He can name hundreds of corporate logos, but less than ten native plants. She aspires to have hundreds of online friends, most she may never meet in person.  He masters complicated situations presented in game after game, but often avoids simple person-to-person conversation. They are almost entirely out of contact with the world that, over millions of years of evolution, shaped human beings — the natural world.

The long-term consequences of this experiment on human development remain to be seen, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. By most accounts, this generation will face multiple crises — environmental, economic and social. Will this screen world — and its bevy of virtual experiences — have adequately prepared these “digital natives” to address the problems they’ll face, problems on whose resolution their own survival may depend?

As we stand at a turning point in our relationship with earth, we find ourselves immersed in the gray area between the natural and virtual worlds. From a global perspective of wonder and hope, PLAY AGAIN examines this unique point in history.”

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