In your opinion, how much affection is appropriate to show your spouse in front of your children? Why?
Growing up, I saw my parents show a minimal, respectable amount of physical affection to each other in front of us kids. Though reserved, it was still enough attention that I was confident in their love for each other. They’d hold hands as they drove us to church, give a peck on the lips when my dad got home from work, and my favorite was when they’d slow dance to the romantic end credit song after watching a movie together.
I have a friend who explained the level of affection her parents would show each other and it was about ten times more PDA than mine. I’m talking full on make-outs, butt pinching, innuendos that would make the other giggle and blush, etc. She said sometimes it’d make her feel uncomfortable but for the most part, she ignored it. “At least I knew they were into each other, even after years of being together.”
Which level of affection was more “appropriate”?
This is where we find a wide variety of opinions. Each relationship is unique and what works for one might be another’s nightmare. Physical affection between a couple is no one’s business but their own but most parents seem to agree that their children deserve to see their parents happy and in love, to whatever degree.
I wanted to get an idea what some moms specifically thought on the subject and so I asked around. Here is what some said:
“I like to think about it in the form of, ‘What would I feel comfortable seeing my kids do with their significant other?’ I’d be THRILLED to know my kids have a thriving sex life. But I don’t like seeing others make out and wouldn’t want to watch my kids do that (even if they are married). I think there’s ways to teach healthy sex in relationships without showing certain aspects of it (like making out).” –Rachel E.
“I think of affection two ways: physical and emotional. I think its super important for kids to witness both kinds from their parents. As far as physical goes, definitely handholding, back rubs, kissing (not too passionately but a few second make out is okay), butt smacking and lots of hugs. As far as emotional affection goes, our kids should see us smiling and flirting with each other as often as we can so they know the magic doesn’t end after marriage!” –Robin L.
“I think it’s important to see healthy physical relationships within marriage and [that] can help de-stigmatize intimacy.” –Carrissa R.
“I learned that I set the example of expectation for my children’s future attitudes about sex. I advocate some passionate kisses because they need to see that their dad and I are passionate about each other. They need to remember that as a married couple you should feel that with your spouse… They need to see us engaged with one another and enjoy one another. This way, they have a baseline for their futures.” –Amber K.
“I think PDA in front of my kids is mostly inappropriate. We hold hands in bed or on dates, we kiss behind closed doors, we have a great sex life. But my kids don’t need to be privy to that. We use our words, the emotional side of things, to show our kids that we love each other. I don’t think they fear we’ll divorce just because they never see us kiss or smack each other’s butts.” –Terri M.
“If it would change a movie to PG-13, my kids shouldn’t see it from me either… Our kids learn affection from us. I also think it’s important for kids to know that their parents love each other and want to be with one another. When my mom first told me about sex, I asked her if she and my dad did it. She replied, ‘Yes, I love your dad very much and he loves me. Sex is an important part of marriage. Wouldn’t you rather know that we have sex and love each other, than not?’” –McKenzie R.
“I’d rather my children see that my husband and I have a relationship that involves us being silly and romantic to each other.”–Tricia H.
“I grew up with parents who didn’t show a lot of affection, and I remember thinking about it a lot. I show affection to my husband in front of my children so they never question if I love him, or want to be with him and only him!” –Melody S.
“My husband and I have talked in depth about this subject. We want our kids to see that being in love and passionate with your spouse is not a bad thing… We playfully spank bums, hug a lot, cuddle, kiss with a few light make outs so they can see that we are in love and sexuality is a healthy part of marriage.” –Aerika N.
“I think the most important thing a parent can teach their children is how to love and how to be loved in a healthy relationship. It will affect pretty much every aspect of their lives… As for the level of affection shown, it depends on your comfort levels.” –Kalyn U.
“Be the example you want your kids to have with their spouse. If you don’t kiss in front of them, they will find it awkward. If you don’t hold their hand when they are young then don’t expect them to when they are 19.” –Stacy C.N.
“My husband will sometimes glance at me with a twinkle in his eye and children sometimes notice… [He] will tell them, ‘Your mom is beautiful’ and occasionally even call me sexy in front of them, in a playful way. We flirt in front of them. Once or twice, I’ve had one of my older kids ask me if we just had sex and I answer honestly but without detail. I think it’s important for the children to know that this is part of a healthy marriage and that we love each other physically in addition to the emotional love, mutual respect, friendship, etc.” –Mary B.
“I think it depends on what you’re comfortable with and what your kids express comfort with.” –Kaitlyn A.
“I think it’s so good for kids to see their parents in love. Happiness is contagious. We always kiss, hug, hold hands, COMPLIMENT each other, and we like to say, ‘MMM! DANG, you look GOOD! Doesn’t your dad look GOOD?!” We just make sure our kids see a marriage they want for themselves. It wasn’t always this way and my son would mimic our little stabs at each other. It matters.” –Brittney B.C.
“My parents have always been so lovey dovey in front of us, for as long as I can remember… My dad will give my mom a “love tap” on her booty when she gets home and she’ll sneak him up to the kitchen for a long kiss. They say things like, ‘let’s make out’ and ‘you’re so hot’ in front of us and you know what? It has made each of my siblings see how important things like that are in a marriage. Now I do the same things with my husband and I’m not ashamed.” –Macey W.
“My parents NEVER showed affection to each other. There were times I wondered if they even loved each other. Years later they divorced, so I guess they only stayed together for us kids or something. I hated it and always wished I’d see them at least hug. Now, I have a hard time showing affection because I’m just not a physically touchy person. But I try, especially in front of my kids, because I don’t want my three girls to doubt or worry about the state of my marriage.” –Anna W.
“My kids see us, their parents, hug, kiss, hold hands—all the normal affectionate things people tend to do out of habit or without even realizing it. They also see us bicker sometimes, too. They will learn that a healthy relationship has both ends and that’s perfectly normal!” –Karey V.
So it seems like the consensus is to go ahead and show affection with your spouse in front of your kids, but don’t get crazy. Most moms seem to agree that it’s good for our kids to have a healthy idea of what a real relationship looks like, one that lasts pasts the stages of puppy love and beginning lust. And we do that by setting the example. Our world, especially the media and what our kids will pick up there, has the lust and beginning stages covered. It’s up to US to show our kids what happens beyond that.