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The Question of Kissing Your Children

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By Shannon Ralph/ The Next Family

Every morning on my way into work, I listen to NPR on the radio. Yes, I am one ofthose people. As a matter of fact, any time I am in the car --with the exception of when Ruanita is in the car with me because she doesn't put up with my pretentious sh*t -- I listen to NPR. In my defense, I watch very little television, with the exception of BBC programming (God, I sound incredibly white and remarkably old), so I get most of my information regarding news and current events from the Internet and the radio. This morning was an exception to that rule. For the first time in 2014, the air temperature is expected to climb above freezing here in balmy Minneapolis. It's practically going to be 40 degrees today! I was feeling particularly festive this morning as I thought of pulling my flip-flops out of hibernation. MPR's coverage of the crisis in Ukraine simply did not match my festive mood, so I turned to my second favorite radio station to listen to a little Katie Perry.The disc jockeys (is that still what they're called or am I simply bolstering my geriatric white woman status?) were prattling on about a survey of listeners they had done the day before. The question up for debate was this: Do you kiss your children on the mouth?

The overwhelming consensus among Twin Citians was a resounding no. Apparently, it feels "awkward" and "weird" and "uncomfortable" to kiss one's children on the mouth. Rather than singing loudly off key to a little Katie Perry "Roar" on this bright and sunny morning, I am now questioning whether or not I am an abhorrent deviant.

Sh*t. Not the plan, people.

Okay, so let's be honest. I kiss my kids on the mouth. And often. I also kiss them on the cheeks and on the tops of their heads and occasionally on their hands. When I do kiss them on the mouth, it is not a lingering kiss. There is no swapping of spit. No tongue action. There is nothing remotely passionate about the kiss. It is a peck usually followed by a big hug as they are rushing out the door to school or climbing under their covers for the night.

I do not find it awkward. Or weird. Or even a little bit uncomfortable. We are an incredibly affectionate household. We snuggle while we watch TV. We hold hands when we walk through Target. My 11-year-old son still climbs in bed with his mommas for a little bright and early "Lukie sandwich" loving on Sunday mornings. Does this make us deviants?

We are all human beings. And humans crave the touch of other humans. The touch of another person makes us feel alive. It makes us feel secure. And loved. And protected. And honored. It makes us feel safe in an otherwise scary world.

Why would I not want to give all of this to my children?

I would argue that there is nothing even remotely sexual about kissing your children on the mouth and that avoiding it for fear of sexual subtext is unhealthy. It is sexualizing something that is in no way sexual. That, to me, is "awkward" and "weird" and "uncomfortable."
Europeans kiss everyone on the mouth. It's a symbol of affection and nothing more. And they possess an infinitesimally tiny percentage of the American hang-ups and prudishness revolving around sex. Further proof that I should have been born British, but I digress.

So are Ruanita and I truly in the minority here? Do you kiss your children on the mouth? Is it weird?

And more importantly, where the hell are my flip-flops?

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Shannon Ralph is a writer for The Next Family and and also has her own blog.
Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov