It seems that moms just can't do anything right anymore, even when they're trying to express their love for their children. Joining a growing list of celebs who have come under fire for the very same reason, Olivia Wilde was recently shamed for kissing her son on the lips in an Instagram post and accused of damaging him by doing so. Despite this being a fairly common way of showing affection for little ones, many people still get seriously upset when they see that kind of display of affection.
Arguments for and against kissing children on the lips have been raging for years. The advent of social media seems to have agitated the issue and thrust those celebrities who choose to do so into the spotlight. As such, Wilde's innocuous post managed to spark quite the controversy because, well, she's a mom on the internet and therefore judgement was inevitable.
Early comments on the post sexualized the kiss and suggested that Wilde was putting her son, Otis Alexander Sudeikis, at medical and psychological risk. One commenter claimed that she was going to give him "mouth AIDS" — um, OK. Another just claimed that was wrong, saying, "Kissing your kid like your husband. It's not good for him."
One particularly confident user claimed to be a child psychologist and stated that this kind of kiss would confuse the child into thinking that Wilde had the same feelings for him that she does for her husband. Fortunately, most of the following comments on the post called out the shamers and expressed their solidarity with Wilde. One such commenter said:
Love is what creates compassionate, humble, caring and emotionally intelligent humans. I know you don’t need to hear this as your own heart knows this to be true, but I want to share my human support and say keep loving your child just exactly the way you are.
My personal favorite refutation of the hateful comments was this sassy little ditty that came chock full of sarcasm:
While we're on the topic, it's worth noting that hugging is a practice best avoided as well. It's seriously inappropriate because there are boobs, and the boobs might touch your kid, and then everything descends into incestual chaos. If you'd like your kids to be well adjusted and emotionally healthy, it's best to say goodnight with a hearty, solid handshake.
As stated earlier, Wilde isn't the only celebrity to make a statement by kissing her child. David and Victoria Beckham have both been caught in the crossfires of this ongoing debate after posting photos of sweet smooches with their 5-year-old daughter Harper.
Similarly, Jessica Alba has been a vocal proponent of kissing children on the lips since finding herself in a similar situation as Wilde and the Beckhams. She gave an in-depth interview on the topic with Redbook and said that she doesn't understand the outrage. "Really?! Why?! It’s your baby. People allow dogs to lick at their mouths," she told the magazine.
Hilary Duff has also spoken out about this particularly nasty form of shaming after she posted a photo of herself and her son Luca Comrie sharing a sweet moment at Disney. When she received comments comparable to those on Wilde's photo, according to Us Weekly, Duff clapped back:
For anyone commenting that a kiss on the lips with my four year old is "inappropriate" go ahead and click a quick unfollow with your warped minds and judgment.
Prompted by these many celebrity stories, numerous experts have stated that this form of expression is perfectly fine. Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, spoke with Live Science following Victoria Beckham's controversy and said that he sees no issue with it, regardless of whether some people find it a bit odd.
In fact, Manevitz told Live Science that intimacy between parents and their children is good for child development, explaining that "intimacy," here, refers to displays of affection such as holding, hugging, tickling, or — ahem — kissing a child.
Another expert, Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, also weighed in on Beckham's experience — and kissing in general — in an interview with CNN. She said that the negative reactions to these kinds of photos are ironic, given our culture's tendency to promote over-sexualization. She also emphasized the importance of intimacy between parents and children, but suggested that the form that intimacy takes should be dictated by the child. According to CNN, she explained:
A good guide is to let your child set the tone. When children are young, they may want those kisses on the lips, but their attitudes may change as they become teenagers, so follow their lead.
Rather than be shocked by the photos, Saltz was most concerned with the mom-shaming that they brought on. "Moms already have plenty of guilt of their own to deal with," she told CNN. "The 'mom police' is not very useful."
Like Saltz, I, too, am much more concerned about the seemingly endless mom-shaming than I am about the healthy relationships that these parents share with their children. In a world where most of us could use a few more hugs and kisses, please lay off of parents who are just trying to share their love with their little ones. It's none of our business anyway, TBH.
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