Several times a day I pucker up to give my three pre-schoolers a big lip-smacker and I have no plans to stop until they're beating me off with their hockey sticks.
I'm a very tactile person and kissing is something I do with all my family and dozens of my friends. I kiss friends on the cheek – sometimes once, sometimes twice – and family on the cheek or on the mouth.
My father would greet me with a kiss on the lips and did so for his entire parenting life, so it was only natural that I kissed my own children in this way too.
It's only recently that I've realised what a divide there is between lip-kissers like me and those who feel kissing kids on the mouth is odd, unpleasant, or just plain wrong.
Although many of my friends enjoy similar kisses with their children, several were adamant they would never want to do it. Reactions ranged from a mild, "it's just a bit icky," to the more definite, "lips are for partners, not for children."
The debate raged on my Facebook wall and on my blog, until I had to draw a line under it. Each to their own, after all.
Elsbeth has three children and hates to see parents kissing kids on the lips. "It makes me feel squeamish. I can't bear seeing mums doing big pucker-up lip planters on their poor children at school drop-off time. I think it just leaves them open to massive teasing and I suppose it looks, dare I say it, rather sexual." She is far from lacking in affection with her own children, but says there are more appropriate ways to show your feelings when it comes to parenting. "I kiss my children all over; cheeks, that lovely scented back of neck, big raspberries on their bottoms, but I'd never do lips – and neither would they."
I've got no problem with Elsbeth's views, but I fail to see anything sexual in kissing a child on the lips. I can't help but feel that parents who spurn lip-kissing are missing out on a special intimacy which will inevitably lessen as time goes by and children grow up.
Look at how toddlers say goodbye to each other; their wobbly embraces and wet kisses showing how much their friendship means to each other. Adults are so stilted by comparison in their own greetings – what's wrong with a kiss, for heaven's sake?
Mum-of-one Nicola can't see the problem either. "A big fat sloppy yes to kissing my child on the lips. For those who think it's wrong it says more about you than it does about me." She and her husband happily kiss their daughter on the lips with not a second thought about whether it's right or wrong.
Bill Fathers is a self-confessed lip kisser and loves playing 'kissing monsters' with his family. "I've never stopped to consider where I should kiss my children, because from their earliest days it seemed perfectly natural to kiss their little rosebud lips. As they've grown I still kiss them on the lips, although as the boys moved into their teens we began kissing on the cheek instead, which seemed an entirely natural evolution. I no longer pretend to be a kissing monster with the boys – that would be embarrassing – but the girls are still young enough for me to chase them around the house with my lips puckered. When I catch them the kisses rain down all over their face – lips included." I love the image Bill's comments portray and can almost see the strength of his relationship with his children. How could anyone see anything wrong there?
There is nothing nicer for me than receiving a kiss on the lips from my children and because they've grown up greeting their parents in this way, they'll always offer up a lip-smacker to grandparents, Godparents and friends.
As the years pass I'm sure they'll become shy, or simply more aware of their personal space, and I guess I'll notice their kisses migrating to my cheek. But until then I'll continue showing my children how much I love them in the nicest way I know.
Pucker up, then.
What do you think? Does lip kissing between parents and children make you feel a bit queasy?
Or is it absolutely fine and natural and something only prudes could dislike? Have your say...
What not to say to mums
- 'I didn't know you were pregnant again!'
- 'She's beautiful, but doesn't look much like you, does she?'
- 'Are you sure the way he's doing that is normal? I haven't seen other babies do it'
- 'Do you actually work or are you just at home with the kids?'
- 'You must be so busy!'
- 'Is it time for another?'
- 'What a beautiful boy!' (when you have a girl)
- 'You've got that real mumsy look about you now'
- 'If that was my child I'd...'
- 'How much sleep are you getting?'
- 'Don't you worry about what he's eating?'
- 'Poor little thing, does she need a feed?'