Why I won’t force my kids to kiss anyone


I come from a kissy type of family. You know those families where you greet everyone with a “hello”, a hug and a kiss. Ya those. That’s my family. Then when you leave you do the entire routine over again. Go to each person, say goodbye, and give a hug and a kiss. I’m ok with it and I don’t’ even think much of it. Until I had Princess Peach.

Princess Peach isn’t a kissy kid.  That’s not to say that she doesn’t like to kiss on the lips but she will only kiss you when she wants to.

We have been creative in our house and instead of a kiss on the lips we might do a nose kiss, a cheek kiss, an eyelash kiss, a high-five, an air kiss, a handshake or even a fist bump. I’m ok with it and so is The Hubster. So we follow her lead. Obviously there are days when all she wants to do is hug and kiss us and obviously on those days I love every single kiss on my lips.

Last week when Princess Peach was leaving for camp I asked her for a kiss. She looked and me and you could tell she thought about it for a second. Clearly, she wasn’t in a kissing mood that day. Her reply was “I will kiss Little Dude and you can get the kiss from him.” Sure, ok. So that’s what we did and we went about our day.

Today when we were visiting my grandparents, which are my kids great-grandparents, Princess Peach didn’t want to hug and kiss them upon seeing them or leaving. I was ok with it as she gave a high 5 and acknowledged them on both coming and going. My mom on the other hand wasn’t too impressed. She thinks that I am raising Princess Peach to be rude and to not be affectionate to close family members. I on the other hand disagree and this is why.

A kiss does not dictate how affectionate you are to someone nor does it show how much you love someone. The amount of quality time, and the personal relationship you have with people shows them the type of relationship you have with someone. A kiss in my eyes is not that determining factor of a relationship. A kiss can be an invasion of your privacy. Why on earth would I want to teach my children that to make someone else happy and feel good they need to make themselves uncomfortable. Obviously I’m not referring to any type of sexual or physical abuse here, but if something makes my child feel uncomfortable I’m not going to force them to do it. Period. The end.

We have come up with other creative ways to greet people and still acknowledge their presence. As Princess Peach can talk we are adamant about greeting people with our words upon coming and going. Teaching social skills like being friendly and kind are more important to me than a kiss.

The best thing I can do is give my children a “voice”. A “voice” where they are able to say what they like and don’t like. When it comes to their body I want them to know that their voice will always be heard. That their body is theirs. Not mine. That although a kiss is “just” a kiss to some people it still involves their body coming into contact with another persons body. I never want my children to feel uncomfortable even with those people who are closest to them. It’s their personal space and I want them to know that it’s respected. I hope that those people closest to us understand our reasoning and not force her to kiss anyone, even a great-grandparent.

So, if  you see me saying goodbye to my kids at daycare and if we tap our hips together you will know why.

Do you make your kids kiss family members?


  1. Amy says:

    ugh – I have memories of having to go around the circle and give all the family members a kiss. Some I didn’t mind and others I did, LOL! Whenever we leave I give the kids options and say hugs, kisses or highfives. It really depends on their mood but I never force!

  2. I come from a family like yours, and sometimes that whole thing annoyed me to no end. I did however realized while reading your post that I might be unintentionally “forcing” my children to kiss family members when they don’t want to. It’s not that I stand there and demand they do it, it’s more of being raised that that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

  3. My expectations are that when someone comes to visit or they are visiting someone that The Kids acknowledge their presence. I do not insist that they kiss, hug or even say “hi”. If they’re looking for ways to engage, I give them an idea and/or show them what I do. If they choose to ignore the person, I talk to them about how they would feel if someone else treated them the same way (ignoring them).

    We spend 4 months of the year in Mexico and culturally, there is an expectation when meeting of an “air kiss” for family, friends and even acquaintances of those. It is a personal insult if you don’t (although as foreigners, we could get by with a handshake). My kids have grown up seeing everyone around them doing that and they are naturally touchie feelie people (like me).

    Even so, I don’t force them as I 100% agree that they need to own the right to their bodies.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

  4. Bonnie Way says:

    I totally agree with this. I did not come from a huggy or kissy family – we might, on occasion, give each other a hug when we arrive or leave, but it’s not a given. And I’ve been adamant, like you, that my girls DO NOT have to hug or kiss anyone they don’t want to. They must be polite (e.g., they still have to say goodbye or thank you, instead of pretending to be shy or just walking out) but they don’t have to offer physical affection. And I think this is important to develop now, because when they’re teenagers and a guy is asking for some physical affection they don’t want, I want them to know it’s okay to say no. And maybe the two aren’t connected, but I agree with you that our children do need some voice and autonomy, and we need to respect their bodies and teach them to do the same. (Although right now the struggle is to teach my oldest, who is 6, to ask her friends and youngest sisters if they want a hug, because she likes giving hugs.)

  5. kathy downey says:

    My hubbys family are kissers,my family are huggers…..i say leave it to the child

  6. Suzie M says:

    I totally agree with you
    Being a grandma I love the hugs & kisses but only if they come from the kids without being forced

  7. Mumma McD says:

    Yep totally nailed it :). Forcing a kid to hug or kiss a relative (or anyone) can lead to all sorts of warped understandings of ‘self’ and about who actually has control of their bodies.

    BTW can you make your blog theme mobile responsive!? Very hard to resd & comment on my phone!

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