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When, If Ever, Does It Become Too Icky to Kiss Your Kid on the Lips?

By Meredith Carroll |

Father and daughter

My husband with our older daughter. Who wouldn't want to kiss either of their lips?

I’m a big kisser. I kiss my daughters all over. No tiny part is off limits to me. Their sweet, soft lips are especially kissable. Same thing with my husband. I still kiss my parents on the lips, too (and hold their hands). When I love, I love big.

But is there ever a time when it becomes not appropriate to kiss your kids on the lips?

As far as I’m concerned, the answer is simple: Nope.

When I kiss my kids or my parents, clearly it’s not sexual. It’s gross to think anyone would assume otherwise.

However. One of the funniest writers on the planet (or at least the funniest writer on the second-to-last page of Time every other week), Joel Stein, recently wrote about kissing his son on the lips.

I think it’s totally sexy when dads and sons kiss on the lips. Not the kiss, but the dad is sexy because he loves his offspring so much that he’s not afraid to display his affection — for a boy or girl. Of course, sexy dads and sexual kisses are two totally different things. Big distinction. Huge.

I have no doubt there are some haters or conservative types who shudder at the thought of parents and kids kissing each other on the lips. Not me. I say take it as long as you can get it (assuming many kids will cease allowing their parents’ lips to touch them anywhere but the occasional cheek by, say, the tween years).

And if you can get it for a long time, you’re pretty special and lucky. And then you become sexy. But not in a sexual way.

Are you a lover or a fighter? Do you think there’s an age or gender limit for kissing your kid on the lips?

Image: Meredith Carroll


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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “When, If Ever, Does It Become Too Icky to Kiss Your Kid on the Lips?

  1. Rosana says:

    I do not kiss my kids on the lips. Never had. Don’t like it, not because of a sexual reason but because I think there are germs we adults should not be passing to little kids. Thank God my husband thinks the same way and he only kisses the kids on the cheek. We play monster and chase them all over the house and once we get them we kissed them all over and I love to snuggle with them on the couch after bath time but do not have the need to kiss them on the lips to show them how much I adore them.

  2. Melissa says:

    I have kissed my only child and son on the lips since he was a toddler, and he is now in his early twenties, a college graduate and a member of the military and will still kiss his mother on the lips without hesitation, he and his dad however have always done cheek kissing and they still do today. His future wife and children will be blessed to have a husband and father that does not have a problem with showing affection.

  3. autoclave says:

    I agree with rosana. I cringed when my mother in law kissed my 4 month old on the lips. All I could think was germs germs germs (especially thrush). They say not to put the bab’s binky in your mouth either because of the germs.

  4. bob says:

    Nonsexual sexiness. That’s funny. Seriously.

  5. Elizabeth Porter says:

    My mom was a nurse and there was never any kissing on the lips, even for my parents (I didn’t like that). I am happy that my husband likes to kiss! But growing up, all my other relatives kissed on the mouth and it seemed weird to me. My husband’s family doesn’t kiss on the lips and I am sure we will not kiss our kids on the lips. For me, kissing on the lips is sexual and I cannot part ways with that thinking. I think my kid will be ok, he/she will be kissed almost everywhere else!

  6. Kayla says:

    I don’t find anything wrong at all with kissing on the lips. My son is two and i have kissed him on the lips from day one and he has never been sick. I think the affection and comfortable-ness of it will teach my son that it’s okay to show affection down the road. Honestly I hope he never grows out of it because I still kiss my family on the lips, it’s just the way I was raised.

  7. Shantel says:

    I STILL kiss my parents on the lips, and I am 26. I also kiss my family members whom I am close to on the lips. I kiss my son on the lips all the time. He also gives kisses to everyone he loves on the lips: us (his parents), grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles. I see absolutely nothing wrong with kissing on the lips. There is nothing sexual about it what-so-ever.

  8. jenn says:

    When I was growing up I stopped kissing my dad on the lips when I started kissing boys on the lips. Now both my honey and I kiss our infant daughter on the lips and will continue to do so as long as she allows. Although she keeps trying to slip mommy the tongue and that is a no no. Lol. Silly girl.

  9. Gena says:

    I am 36 and still kiss both parents on the lips. It isn’t even a though it my mind, just something we’ve always done. It is a quick peck and obviously not sexual. My brother and I will kiss on the lips rarely anymore, mostly on the cheeks and he kisses our dad on the cheek and mom on the lips. All other family members are kissed on the cheek and always have been. I think it just matters how you were raised because that is what you are used to. There is no right or wrong. Kissing on the lips doesn’t make kids sick and not kissing them on the lips doesn’t mean they don’t feel loved. I will give birth to my first in March 2012 and expect I will kiss her on the lips because that is what feels right for me. I’ll let my husband decide for himself how he feels about it, since he doesn’t come for a kissy/huggy family.

  10. says:

    i am OBSESSED with kissing my 4 month old son on the lips. i just think his little mouth is about the sweetest thing on the planet. obviously, he’s too little to kiss back, but whatever. i plan to keep it up for as long as he’ll let me. my husband doesn’t kiss his mouth, but kisses him just about anywhere else. as an adult, i still kiss my mom and grandma on the mouth. a great number of my friends are british/south african, and they all kiss hello on the mouth, so who knows. i don’t think mouths are more germy than other parts (hands, hello!). and it’s for sure not sexual. i agree with you meredith, it is so charming when grown fathers show affection to their grown children (my father-in-law will hug and kiss the cheek of both my husband and his brother every morning when we are visiting their home).

  11. June says:

    It’s so funny that this topic came up, my wife and I were discussing it just the other day.
    My wife thinks we should stop kissing our 8 year old son on the lips sighting “he’s too big for that now” and she has chosen to do so with no arguments from me or him. I, on the other hand, will continue to do it until he asks me to stop. I have asked him at intervals if he’s uncomfortable with it, and he’s not so I see no reason to stop. He also kisses both his grandmothers on the lips, but that’s all. No aunts or uncles or anyone else. We let him have the choice.

  12. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    We’re a kissing family.

  13. Donna says:

    MY husband thinks its weird that I kiss my son on the lips but that is how I was raised too. My mother still tries to kiss everyone (creeped out an old boyfriend) on the lips but most of us just turn our heads. My 2 year old must be picking up on my husband’s feelings because now he offers me the cheek most days. It makes me sad!

  14. Kate says:

    I don’t know when I stopped kissing my parents on the lips. Sometime when I was a teenager. It’s actually obvious that we don’t know what to do anymore, cause we kind of just press our cheeks together now. Kissing seems to be almost taboo now. I was actually thinking about this the other day. My father stopped kissing me when I became pregnant (I have a 9.5 month old son now).

  15. Heidi says:

    Once they become little people (5/6) kissing on the lips becomes weird. I’m grossed out by the thought of it. It might be because I was raised in a family where there wasn’t kissing (cheek or lip) or really hugging for that matter between parent/child.

  16. diana says:

    Im sorry but kissing ur kids or parents on the lips is disgusting. I agree with Rosanna, theres no need to kiss ur kids on the lips to show affection. often when I pick them up from school ill kiss theyre hand like royalty which they love because theyre my princesses. And when I tuck them in at night I kiss them on the cheek and theyre eyelids. They in turn give me butterfly kisses with their lashes n koala bear kisses where we rub our noses together n then one last kiss on the cheek before I turn off the light.. So there are other kisses that can show affection… Ps. Joel Stein IS hilarious!

  17. Stacey says:

    My (almost) 2 YO daughter will cup my face and pull me toward her to give me a kiss on the lips. I love that she is so affectionate and loving and I will NEVER deny her a kiss when she wants it…too soon the day will come when she won’t want a kiss from mom anymore!

  18. Jackie says:

    I kiss my two year old daughter on the lips all the time. A couple of times it has been wierd because when she kisses me on the lips, she lingers and its sloppy. I feel like we are treading very close to french kissing. ick.

  19. Lisa Locklear says:

    I have 3 wonderful children and I kiss them on the lips…..I don’t think there is anything wrong with it…..And my oldest son is 20 and gay and that doesn’t matter to me…I love my kids and I have always kissed them on the mouth since they was babies…..I was never shown love from my mother and that hurt me….So, I never wanted my kids to feel that pain…..If you think I am wrong than I don’t care….

  20. Voice of Reason says:

    We are also a kissing family. Until I read this piece and its accompanying comments, I honestly had no idea that some families don’t kiss their children on the lips.

  21. Hollie says:

    We are a kissing family as well! I am 29 and I still kiss both my parents on the lips. I kissed my grandmother on the lips until she passed almost two years ago. When I was growing up if I didn’t kiss her on the lips she would call me back and make me “do it right.” Its one of my fondest memories of her. My kids would ask if there was something wrong with me if I didn’t kiss them on the lips because that’s all they’ve ever known from me and my husband and from my parents as well as my grandparents and aunts and cousins. It’s just what’s normal for us. My husband wasn’t raised that way though and it took him off guard at first. He is now on the “kissing team” though. LOL!

  22. Nicole says:

    I find the replies about ‘sharing germs’ hysterical. I’m not trying to be mean or nitpicky but if you think that’s the only way they’re getting your “adult germs” you’re sadly mistaken.

    Not to mention the fact that this whole keep your baby ‘sterile’ mentality is what has contributed to the increase of illnesses not the decrease. Let your precious little bundle do what they’re supposed to do; get exposed to the world; and yes that means a few germs so they can develop strong hearty immune systems. We didn’t boil anything; clothes new from the store went right on their bodies; we used the same unscented laundry detergent for the whole family; not ‘special baby detergent’ etc…my oldest (6) has had one ear infection; the youngest(4) none…other than the occasional cold (runny nose; cough) once a year; they’re remarkably healthy.

    When I was around 8 my mother told me that we had to start cheek kissing cause I was getting to old; and so that’s just something that carried over; I mostly kiss my girls on their cheeks; but if they come up to plant a big one on me I’m not going to turn my head from them!! How rude and hurtful that would be!

  23. Krissy says:

    I love kissing my daughter who is now 9 months old. I kiss her just about everywhere. Her tiny hands and feet, her chubby legs and arms, her tummy, ears, neck, head, on the cheek, the forehead, her tiny chin, her nose, and yes her lips!! I get that some people are not comfortable with kissing their children on the lips but it shouldn’t bother them that other people do it. It’s just a way to show affection and love for someone. It doesn’t have to be gross or taboo. It’s just how some people like to show it. Of course there are a thousand other ways to show it and trust me I show it in any way I can. My daughter loves it and will smile and laugh at me as I kiss her all over. It’s one of the best feelings in the world to show and feel the love from your child. I know one day she may not want me to do that anymore and if that is what she wants then I will understand. For now I am enjoying every single slobbery kiss I get from her. And she has yet to get sick. Even once. If I were to get sick I would do the responsible thing and not kiss her on the lips. It’s just that simple. But all in all there is absolutely nothing wrong with kissing your children on the lips.

  24. Teri says:

    I am 36 & I still kiss my parents on the lips, my grandparents too! I kiss my kids on the lips (cept my oldest, he’s 18 & past the kissing age, for him, not me, lol) My step dad is a lip kisser, has been my whole life & not just me, everyone! If he loves ya your getting kissed. He kisses my BF on the lips when saying bye, lol! I think it’s great the guys in my life aren’t afraid to show some love! Makes my boys stronger, loving men! And shows my daughter the kind of man worth loving! I say go for it! But I know it’s not for everyone!

  25. Joulia says:

    That’s sick. Guess you all agree to cousins kissing each other on the lips too, and what about aunts and uncles kissing your kids on the lips? Plain sick.

  26. Caitie says:

    my two year old son is a lip kisser wither i am or not haha the kiss is not complete until he hits your lip.

  27. Hollie says:

    I hate when anyone other than my husband kisses me on the lips. For people I know who are lip-kissers, I give them the classic high schooler brush off of turning my head really fast at the end, ha ha. I kiss my baby girl all over her arms, legs, face, head, and belly, but pretty rarely on the lips. She tries to lick me.

  28. Sarah says:

    Hmm, to me lip kissing is sexual, and is reserved only for lovers. I grew up in an affectionate family, with lots of hugs, but never lip to lip action. I am totally grossed out by the idea of kissing my parents or grandparents on the lips, and I don’t kiss my kids on the lips. They get lots of smooches on the cheek and lots of hugs and cuddles.
    incidentally, I live in a European country where cheek smooching is common among acquaintances (no it’s not France), so it’s not like we’re repressed or super conservative.

  29. Jenna says:

    The only people lip kissing in my house is me with my husband. Kissing kids on the lips just weirds me out, sorry. We’re big huggers.

  30. g8grl says:

    I used to kiss my kids on the lips until I got tired of catching their colds. I decided that it’s too much negativity to say that I won’t kiss them on the mouth when they’re sick so I just always kiss elsewhere and I don’t have to change that just cause they’re sick.

  31. Meagan says:

    I thought it was weird until I had a baby, and now I just want to kiss every inch of his face. :-)

  32. A says:

    This is totally cultural. What is surprising is how many people don’t seem to realize that.

  33. Cathoren says:

    We’re lip kissers, cheek kissers, hand kissers in our family. It just feels normal and both our sets of parents did the same with us (neither of our parents are of North American descent). The only time it’s ever been a problem is when a great-aunt requested a kiss from my then-3-year-old, and to her surprise, got one on the lips. We did have to explain that we don’t give kisses to people we don’t know very well directly on the lips… and taught the Euro double cheek kiss for friends and people other than parents & grandparents.

  34. L. says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever kissed my parents on the lips and I would be grossed out if I did. Even accidentally. Although I have kissed the kids in my family on the lips when they were little. One of my nieces used to always insist on kissing on the lips. Once they get a little older its cheeks all the time.

  35. GestaltZe says:

    I remember kissing my parents on the lips when I was young, but I haven’t done it for a long time, and it would make me uncomfortable now.
    I don’t kiss my two month old son on the lips either. I don’t care if other people kiss their kids, but it makes me uncomfortable. That’s probably better, because when I try to kiss his face, he often ‘latches’ onto my nose. :p

  36. Elizabeth Hare says:

    My opinion is totally different from yours. I don’t believe parents should kiss their kids on the lips – ever! Well, I must admit there was an exception when they asked because they wanted to know what a kiss on the lips felt like – but an exception to the rule! Cheeks are just fine. But leave your germs and your dental caries to yourself.

  37. Amy says:

    “Leave your dental caries to yourself”?! Um… cavities aren’t contagious.

    I still kiss my parents on the lips (I’m 36), and my grandparents, and my uncles. And my 6-year-old daughter. That kind of kiss is something totally different than the way I kiss my husband! Just like there is a big difference between a casual hug and an intimate hug.

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