What is your opinion on kissing children on the mouth?
It’s not something I recommend to parents. And even, quite frankly, I cancel it. Kissing on the mouth is a loving gesture, not a sign of affection.
However, in the spirit of the parents who kiss their child on the mouth, there is nothing incestuous?
Obviously ! And fortunately. But it is a question of symbolism. In France and in many countries, a kiss on the mouth is a loving gesture. Having gestures with your child that are culturally loving gestures is, in my opinion, a mistake. On the one hand, it does not help the child to understand that adults should not allow themselves certain gestures with him, on the other hand, it blurs the message as to the different types of affection that exist.
What do you mean ?
One does not love one’s spouse as one loves one’s children. In French, we only have one word, “amour”. In other languages, there are several. In Greek, for example, there are “philia”, “agapè” and “eros”. You would never use the latter to speak of parental love! The child is not aware of these differences, it is up to the adult to teach them. A little girl can say to her father “when I grow up, I will marry you”. You have to explain to him why this is not possible. In the same way, if a child sees his parents kissing each other on the mouth, he understands that it is not a kiss for him.
Does not kissing your child on the mouth therefore have an educational virtue?
This helps him to separate things, to distinguish what is normal from what is not. If you treat your child with gestures that should be reserved for adults, you don’t give him the keys to understanding that adults don’t have the right to make loving gestures towards him. The parent-child relationship should not resemble a romantic relationship, neither in gestures nor in words. I am not saying that the parent who kisses his child on the mouth or allows him to sleep in his bed is malicious, I am just saying that it is easier for the child to navigate when the limits are clearly marked. .
What do you mean by the idea of difference in the words used?
I hear a lot of parents say “I love you” to their child. For me, it is a phrase from the register of love. You don’t tell your spouse “I love you very much”, you tell him “I love you”, it’s absolute. So you can’t say the same to your child. In the past, you didn’t tell your child that you loved him. He was shown, by a presence, an attention… It is still relevant today. But if you want to express your parental love, you can qualify, for example by saying “I love you… high as the sun” or “I love you… red as the tomato”. It can even become a game between you and your child. It’s sincere, but he understands the difference.
What if the child initiated the kiss on the mouth?
We don’t make a big deal out of it! We don’t turn away, we don’t get angry, but we explain to him that it’s not done. It can be something like, “Your kiss is cute, but you know, I’m not your lover. A kiss on the mouth is only for grown-ups. If he does it again, maybe he’s trying to send us a message. Especially if we’ve never kissed him on the mouth. In this case, we ask him questions to understand if he has experienced anything in particular in relation to this gesture, at school or elsewhere.
– The loving relationship between adults is not the same as the loving relationship between parent and child. The codes must be different, both in gestures and in words.
– Culturally, a kiss on the mouth is a loving gesture. It must therefore be reserved for romantic relationships.