Okay to kiss in front of kids?

Some young parents believe in ‘open parenting’, where you are open to showing love in front of kids

Many young parents in Bengaluru are exploring open parenting. Millennial parents don’t shy away from showing affection to their partner — stealing a kiss on the cheek or a hug — in front of their kids. This helps kids feel comfortable with the relationship their parents share, busting the myth that love should happen only behind closed doors.

Metrolife spoke to some parents and an expert on how effective open-parenting is, what its benefits and why millennials parents are choosing this new style?

‘Love should not be a hush-hush thing’

Swati Gandhi, a lifestyle influencer known for her Instagram page ‘Myswatitude’, and her husband, Vineet had a love marriage 12 years ago and have an eight-year-old son, Vihaan.

The couple then decided to live the life they would have if they had no kids.

“Showing affection towards each other by hugging or kissing was something that we have been doing from the beginning. It is absolutely normal for us, and now, for our son too,” says Swati. 

She adds that the concept of open parenting have helped their son understand that love is emotional and not a bad thing.

“We are very affectionate towards each other as a family and he is aware of that. Phrases like ‘I love you’, and actions like kissing and hugging, don’t embarrass our kid. He is happy to see two people caring for each other,” says Swati. 

She is positive that when Vihaan enters the crucial teenage years, the concept of open parenting will help the couple communicate with him better and more efficiently. 

As a father, Vineet is of the opinion that their son should not grow up with inhibitions around his parents’ relationship.

“We want him to embrace the complexities of human relationships and feelings that lead to love, trust, expectations and mutual caring. There are times when he sees us arguing but more often we spending cosy time, hugging and just generally exchanging our thoughts. We try and remain open so that right from an early age, he can relate to relationships and witness our bond.” 

Showing different shades of relationship

Suheir Khalid and Ashfaq Rahman are parents to two young boys. Suheir says choosing open parenting was a sub-conscious decision. 

“We are from the present generation and are exposed to concepts like these. So, post-marriage, it was something that came to us naturally. We believe that love in a relationship should not be hidden. Even when we fight, our children know that we will eventually make up.”

She adds, “My husband is more open to showing affection to me in front of our children. He believes that the more he shows love and care, his sons are going to learn how to treat a woman. Ashfaq wants our children to see all the sides of a relationship.” 

Talking about the various benefits, Suheir says, “With the concept of open parenting, we can teach our children the importance of gender balance at home and outside. Children also become more confident to share their emotions and feelings and this, we believe, will help us talk openly on sex education.”

Kids learn through observation better than through instructions


Suheir Khalid with husband Ashfaq Rahman.

Kala Balasubramanian, counselling psychologist and psychotherapist, Inner Dawn Counselling and Training services LLP, says that children learn more by observation of the model behaviours (parents or parental figures) than instructions. 

“Being open in terms of showing affection, love and care towards your partner helps your child to learn about healthy relationships. Most parents fight in front of their children but they aren’t comfortable showing affection. It is necessary to be able to make up after a fight in front of them. This gives children a way to understand boundaries,” she points out. 

There are certain aspects of affection, like hugging, holding hands or a peck on the cheek, that are okay to show to children, says Kala, adding that there is a tendency among young parents to move towards open parenting.

“Even saying sorry to each other in front of children will show the close bond and respect you have for your partner. Of course, you should not give access to your sexual talks and activities. Apart from that, it is important that a child knows what a healthy relationship looks like,” she says.

The environment of the family becomes pleasant, nurturing and loving for the child when parents openly show love for each other, Kala says.

“A happy environment is always a good environment for a child to grow up in,” says Kala. 

How are millennials changing parenting style?

Children have access to everything on their fingertips — be it television, internet or mobile phones. It is obvious that they are exposed to a lot of things but here, the problem is that they don’t understand what is good and bad for them. 

“The number of minors getting into sexual violence is really very high and it all boils down to one’s attitude towards love, affection, care, concern and sex. Today, parents are a lot more aware of this and they want to introduce the right attitude in their child,” Kala says. She points out that the demand for parenting classes are on high demand today.

They want to take care of their children in the right way from the start and not wait till they grow up.

Setting up the right example for children by being open, affectionate, caring and apologetic is one of the ways to do it.  

Benefits of open parenting

- Giving the right kind of attitude to the child regarding love, care and respect, so they treat each other equal.

- Moving ahead, there is a right attitude while talking about sex education.

Teach boundaries and consent

While open parenting is good, educating the child about consent and other boundaries to keep in mind is equally important.

“While kissing on the cheek is acceptable, anything more than that may be overstepping the boundary, as the child might try it out in school. This is when teaching the role of consent comes to play -- who can be hugged or kissed,” says Kala.

On the contrary, if this is hidden, but the child comes across it online, it will give a false notion to the child.

 

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