Kissing Values and Kids

Two children kissing on the cheekWho would have thought we would need them? And yet, a young mother I know asked me this question recently:

“…  Our five-year old daughter got in trouble at school yesterday for kissing a boy in her class. Yikes! It occurs to me as we work on this, that we don’t have a family value about kissing. I mean, I can tell her now that she shouldn’t kiss boys, but it always makes more sense to me if the message I give her now at five mirrors the message I give her at fifteen.”

This mom is one smart cookie, because she is thinking ahead now to years in the future when the value messages of your family should still match up. This is analogous to strategic planning in corporate life, and if you aren’t spending as much time and energy doing it for your family as your business, you are missing an opportunity.

These were the thoughts and experiences I shared with my friend:

Our generation was given a societal message of appropriate behavior in a variety of ways that do not exist for our children. Everything seems hyper-sexual from the media, and even though her five-year old is not putting it into that context, we have to be sensitive to the messages they are getting along the way.

When this came up with our daughters, we put it a few different ways to them as they matured.

1.       At five or so:  If you like a boy, being too aggressive can give the wrong message to him and make him uncomfortable with you. You may lose a friend, especially if it is against the rules at school and you both get in trouble! Family Value: Kissing is a special thing that we share with people we love or are related to.  Example statement: “In our family, we don’t kiss our classmates, teachers, or people we don’t know well and we always follow the rules.”

2.      At a later age (Middle School): Girls are getting the message these days that it is okay to be sexual aggressors, and that boys like it when they chase them. Our daughters have found just the opposite to be true. Many boys will take what is offered, whether it is a kiss or more, but there is no guarantee that it is really desired or means anything on a relationship level. Again, tell them that kissing, like any other intimacy, is a special thing and to be given out with great thought and discretion. Kisses to everyone just devalues them.

3.      At an even later age (High School/College): Kissing is not as much of a big deal. It is the end of a date, etc., and they are often given much more casually, frankly because there are greater intimacies on the table. This can be a tough time, and all I can say is that open communication about sex started very early at our house and the girls always knew as much as they wanted to know. They could ask me anything and I would explain it with intimidating detail. 🙂

4.      Adulthood: We have told them that we have no problems with sex in general; we have a problem with stupid sex. Sex for the wrong reasons and unprotected sex are stupid sex in our book.

That was probably waaay more information than my young friend wanted, but there is a progression involved and you must always think hard about your reasons for a rule. In her specific case, she and her husband had been given valuable support by their school in that  rule against it, but if you don’t second that with your personal views about it as a family, your child will simply kiss someone somewhere besides school.

Children are resourceful, and you must always be able to explain the reason for your rule and how you feel about that subject.  After all, your goal is to raise a child who will ask the right questions and be able to make good decisions.

It starts now.

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