When Should You Stop Kissing Your Kids On The Lips

Mother and daughter a kiss on the lips

“Why didn’t you want to kiss me?” I asked my daughter.

“You’re not supposed to kiss on the lips,” she said.

kissing your kids on the lips - the everyday mom life

I had asked for a quick smooch as we snapped a photo on our recent trip to Austin. We aren’t big lip kissers in our family, but before bed or every now and then we pucker up and kiss the kids on the lips.

Somewhere along the way, my daughter had stopped doing this and I hadn’t really noticed until this moment when she seemed sort of uncomfortable with it. I figured her hesitation had more to do about the stranger I asked to take our photo versus anything else.

“Who told you that?” I asked feeling a bit hurt.

“I don’t know,” she said, still seeming a bit uncomfortable.

Maybe she did know and maybe she didn’t, but the point was, I hated that something that was supposed to be about the love between us made her uncomfortable.

I decided right there I would never ask her to kiss me on the lips again and mourned the passing of another “last” with her.

All that really mattered to me was that she was uncomfortable, and I never wanted her feel that way about affection – from me or anyone else.

The kissing conundrum

Kissing your kids on the lips has been a hot topic for decades but has been highlighted in recent years by Victoria and David Beckham and Hillary Duff who have all posted photos of themselves kissing their children on their lips.

The whole world seems to have an opinion on the subject (whether they’re parents or not) and those opinions vary greatly.

Even “experts” can’t agree.

Dr. Charlotte Reznick of UCLA and author of The Power Of Your Child’s Imagination: How To Transform Stress And Anxiety Into Joy and Success told The Stir in 2010 that kissing on the lips is “too sexual” for young children and that it can be “stimulating.”

“It’s just too confusing,” she said, infuriating parents around the world.

Many other doctors and psychologists have vehemently disagreed with her over the years and say it’s totally normal to kiss your children on the lips. They say to believe a kiss is confusing would be similar to saying breastfeeding is confusing.

It’s cultural and family-based

In 2016, parenting expert and founder of Tools of Growth, Roma Khetarpal told the Global News that the controversy around kissing on the lips is very cultural and has to do with how you were raised.

“It’s prevalent in some cultures and not in others,” she told the publication. “It comes down to what your family dynamic is – just like any other cultural habit.”

Khetarpal added that if you grew up kissing your parents on the lips this would be very normal for you, but if you didn’t then it might seem unusual. For instance, it’s very normal for adults and children to kiss on the lips and cheeks in European countries.

“A lot of families have cultural habits when it comes to kissing and for some, even the cheek can be offensive,” she said.

When should you stop kissing your kids on the lips?

However, Khetarpal stressed that there are things parents should keep in mind when kissing their kids on the lips.

  1. Is it age appropriate?
  2. Do your children want it?

There is a time when you stop doing things for your children – wiping their butts, bathing them and dressing them. Khetarpal said that kissing on the lips should be similar to this.

My daughter has now set the boundaries for herself around kissing on the lips, just like she has recently asked for privacy in the bathroom and has (finally) started closing the door when she goes.

There’s no denying that she’s growing up, and as sad as I am to be waving goodbye to some of these moments, I’m happy she can set and vocalize her boundaries for herself and her body.

Even though there will be no more kissing her on the lips, she still loves a good kiss on the cheek, head and all the bear hugs she can get.

She still climbs into bed with us each night (Every. Single. Night.) and snuggles with me on the couch each morning. In fact, if I don’t snuggle to her satisfaction I get an earful.

“You’re doing it wrong,” she said.

“Doing what wrong?”

“You’re supposed to put your arm around me,” she said, “so I can be in the nook and close to your heart.”

“You’ll always be close to my heart,” I said and kissed her on her head as she leaned into me.

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  1. This is a good post for the right time in parenting where kids are getting older. I do love the last part where your daughter told you how to put your arm around her-so sweet.

  2. My little is two and when the time comes i am sure i will know and we will move to the cheek but until then I am going to enjoy it

  3. This is interesting. I never would have thought about this as an issue. Just because A. I’m not a mom and B. My parents never kissed us on the lips. My family isn’t super affectionate physically but I never felt like it was with held. We’d hug and tell each other we loved each other every day but we never kissed on the mouth. Even with the babies in the family it’s normally a kiss on the check. I think it’s about what works for your family.

  4. I haven’t gotten to that stage just yet with my 3 (ages 6,5 and 19 months old). We are also not huge lip kissers anyway. I do find myself kissing my older two’s cheek more often than anything else. I agree that it is a thing that will be ‘outgrown’ as the child grows up. I think the inappropriateness of it is only based on the situation at hand. We are the ones that make it inappropriate. 🙂

  5. There are so many germs and so much to consider. I know we always want to show love to our children but we should always be cautious to avoid any sort of germs being transferred

  6. My first response to seeing the title was “never”. It’s about the love, the bond, and to hell with anyone who says otherwise. A peck on the lips is just one more way to say I love you. But then I saw it was her choice, oh, well then I guess THAT’S the tight time. It makes me sad that society influences our children in directions we can’t control. They are often as much a product of the world as they are our children.

  7. Very interesting article. I have not gotten to that stage yet with daughter. However, my family never really participated in that when I was growing up so I will most likely follow that.

  8. I don’t have kids, but I have a niece and nephews. They stopped kissing me on the lips around school age, around 5 to 6. I kind of stopped because there was more of chance of getting a cold.

  9. My parents never did this with me –– I used to find it a bit odd when parents would, but as I got older I found it a little cuter.

  10. This was an interesting article indeed. It can often be a really divided subject among people. Personally speaking I would stop when my children naturally didn’t want to kiss me.

  11. I have kids and I kissed them on their lips but definitely, time will come that it will be going to change the fact that they are growing up.

  12. I too am not a lip kisser. I have always kissed my daughter on the cheek or forehead. This i very touchy subject I am not bothered by one kissing your child, its just not something we do. I have always considered it to be a little to personal for myself. I really did enjoy the read!

  13. I never kissed my daughter on the lips, seriously out of fear of if I am spreading germs or something. Doesn’t bother me when other parents do it. I agree that it should be stopped as soon as kids say, no.

  14. I don’t have any kids so that’s never been an issue for me, still I think that this is different for every child. I respect what you did there, indeed a child should never be made to feel uncomfortable…I guess I’ll get to these issues too someday ))

  15. This is such a common debate, you are right. I personally stopped doing it when they started noticing it as a romantic act. Once they realize that, it gets uncomfortable for them.

  16. Oh man- so true that is totally cultural! I married an Italian where everyone ALWAYS kisses on the lips, and I do love it, so I wish my own family culture had been more affectionate, but such a tricky question.

  17. I think the right answer is what is comfortable for the child. If he or she is done with kissing on the lips, it should be over. It’s hard to say goodbye when our kids are done with something, especially when it’s linked to affection, but with my boys, I find it just keeps happening and it’s a natural part of them growing up. My advice for parents is to enjoy the moments in the moment because parenting and kids needs are always changing. Great discussion on the topic to get parents of young kids thinking about such things.

  18. I seriously never would have thought about this. My kids love kissing on the lips! My daughter tries to kiss everyone on the lips (she’s 2). It’s just normal in our family. But, if and when the time some where they are uncomfortable with it, I would stop. I just pray that isn’t anytime soon 😉

    • I never had this as a kid growing up but my dourter dos give me a peck on the lips and I feal uncunfabal as she is a 11 now and be for I say to her I think you are getting a bit to old for this now I just wondered what ppl though

  19. This is a common occurrence in my family. I think it is based on culture and where you are from. My mom was born and raised in Mississippi and you’re very close with you family down their. She even still kisses her friends on the cheek! This was a great post thanks for sharing.

  20. I sometimes wonder if my two year old wants me to kiss her on the lips, so I hesitate and kiss her head or cheek instead. But then, a few minutes later, she will often crawl into my lap and pucker up. If I turn my head and point to my cheek, she get’s this look in her eye – either confusion or a slightly hurt look – until I turn my head back and let her plant a cute, (dry, thankfully), quick kiss on my lips, and then she smiles. I figure, we’re okay as long as she still comes to me for these kinds of kisses.

  21. Where has that habit to kiss kids on the lips come from? Noone did that when I was a small child (I was born in the sixties). Plenty of hugs and kisses on the cheek but not on the mouth. I think it is gross and cringe every time I see it. Kissing on the mouth is for an intimate relationship between adults not something you do with kids! I see it as a form of sexually abusing kids as you perform a gesture on them which is of a sexual nature when they have an age where they cannot give consent. It’s sexualising the relationship between parent and child so disgusting and immoral.
    I am all for physical contact with your kids, hugging, cuddling, back rubbing, kissing the forehead or the cheeks but kissing on the mouth is wrong. Every time I see people to this I want to smack them. If your moral sense is well developed you just feel in your gut it is wrong. Cannot see where it comes from nor why every time one dares to question it people jump on this person and say that physical contact with your kids is so important. It certainly is but I don’t think it has to take the form of kissing your kids on their mouth.

    • In my research of Psychopaths, Narcissists, and Sociopaths, oftentimes people who struggle with these issues can only feel anger and lust.
      Normally humans have a very wide range of emotions.
      For a person to think of a kiss only as sexual and not allow for a spectrum of platonic emotions is, to me, highly suspect.

    • Just to clarify—I’m certainly not a professional and I am not saying you have any of those traits. You are perhaps a fine example of a person in real life, I have no clue but I wish to assume so. I am saying that the finality in your view of limiting kisses on the lips to a feeling of lust, and your attachment of hostility to your exclusive definition of a parent kissing their children is, to me… not choosing to assume the best in people or their range of emotions. I hope that your day is filled with all the good emotions today. <3

  22. My son is 14 and we still kiss on the lips. It is not an intimate kiss but a short pucker smack. When i drop his lunch off at school, he is not ashamed..he huggs me and kisses me and says thanks mom..When the time comes and he feels awkward..we will respect the decision. I have a mother-in-law who thinks it is wrong and i told her only a dirty mind thinks is it perverted lol! Some people..NOT ALL..have a mind that is evil or perverted..tainted thinking.

    • Totally agree! I’m a grown woman and still kiss my parents goodbye on the lips, and aunties and such on the cheek. My nephews are approaching 6 and 8, and they still give kisses when they leave the house. It’s nothing more than another way of saying I love you.

  23. We were never kissed on lips as children, I find it uncomfortable personally anyway, I told my son ‘we kiss on the cheeks and not on the lips. He is happy with it. He is four and I never liked to kiss him on his cheeks.

    As the child is growing up, the child has to grow learn it he right boundaries in life to develop into a healthy adult. I don’t agree with kissing on lips.

  24. We were never kissed on lips as children, I find it uncomfortable personally anyway, I told my son ‘we kiss on the cheeks and not on the lips. He is happy with it. He is four and I never liked to kiss him on his lips.

    As the child is growing up, the child has to grow – learn the right boundaries in life to develop into a healthy adult. I don’t agree with kissing on the lips.


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