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The Kissing Kids Scandal

I’ve recently had a run in with my kid’s summer camp counselor (or rather am about to have a bigger run in!) She pulled me aside (after commenting to another parent that she had to go deal with “weirdness”) and told me that my kids (I have a seven-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl) were inappropriately kissing and that many of the kids said they were “French kissing” and being disgusting. She said my daughter was really embarrassed and shoved my son away.

Well, of course I took this seriously and pulled my son aside and explained he shouldn’t force himself on anyone—and that maybe he should avoid kissing her at camp. This was at the beginning of the day, so I had to worry about it all day.

When I picked them up, wondering why my kids hadn’t mentioned this “serious” incident, the day before (I just heard about how well they both did in rugby). My daughter said, “Oh geez, the other kids were being stupid!” She said Alec just came up, told her he loved her and kissed her on the lips and the other kids went weird. She said they said something about FRANCE kissing. (What is that Mommy? To which I replied “with tongue,” she said, “Eeeewww, are you SERIOUS?”) Her response was that the other kids were just being stupid. Good for her I say.

So, now I’m going to talk to the counselor about how I feel about how she handled what she termed as “weirdness.” I sort of assume by her comment that she jumped to as many conclusions as the other kids did and perhaps talking to both Cheyenne and Alec might have been a better course of action than to pull my seven-year-old son aside and make the morality call that he shouldn’t ever kiss his sister again (maybe only on the cheek). Sigh.

Well, I’m pondering how to approach the counselor on Monday about this “issue,” so, as a complete geek—I Googled it. And amazingly this is a much bigger issue than I originally thought.

One bulletin board posting was from a Mom whose five-year-old daughter was comforting a friend who had just found out her grandmother had died by kissing her on the check. She was apparently then disciplined under a “no-touch” policy at school. One of the comments on her post made an excellent point (I think) that the no-touch policy just exhibits laziness on the school’s part and that instead of teaching “good touch” and “bad touch” it is easier just to completely disallow compassion and human contact.

And here’s even more interesting(although perhaps controversial) article about how kissing and showing compassion should never be lumped in with sexual harassment (or anything sexual) that it reduces the seriousness of real sexual harassment threats. I tend to agree - aren’t we making true sexual harassment seem more commonplace when we lump it with innocent consensual affection and caring? My husband even pointed out that there are scientifically proven negative effects to withholding physical love and care to children.

I have started reading a lot of Free Range Kids and I think the point that she really brings forth is that if we panic our kids panic and they cease to live their lives. Do my kids really have to be paranoid every time they hug or kiss in public? Do I have to worry about kissing them? Yes, our family kisses on the lips—does this now mean we have an unhealthy relationship? Whose judgment is that to make?

After basically—okay, I admit it—obsessing about this issue for 48 hours, I have come to the conclusion that more than TV or any other “outside” sources for sex = we are imposing our adult views on our kids WAY before they are ready for them. The only way this sort of input is valid is if the kids have been exposed to sexual behavior that’s beyond their world life experiences. My question might actually be how do their camp-mates KNOW about French kissing? My kids have no idea what it is.

My kids have never been exposed to even any movies that show passionate kisses (do kids kissing in Harry potter count?) and so this kiss couldn’t have been anything beyond innocent (it even makes me sick to think I have to defend it). My daughter is fully aware of “family” love and “friend” love and she loves her brother LIKE a brother. I think that’s a good thing and I refuse to find anything dirty in the two of them kissing on the lips.

There, I’ve said it. Argue me if you want. 

Originally published on Frequently Wrong but Never in Doubt 

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