Is This Normal?

Kissing on the Lips

Is kissing on the lips okay? What about sleeping in the dog's bed?

Q:

When I say goodbye to my 7-year-old daughter, we kiss each other on the lips. We did this the other day in front of her school and a mom that was standing nearby told me she thought a dad kissing his daughter on the lips was inappropriate. Is it?— Richland Dad

A:

Each family has different values and beliefs related to affection. If kissing on the lips is something that your daughter feels comfortable with and how you show affection, it is okay.

Views and comfort with different types of physical affection vary from person to person, family to family and culture to culture. The appropriateness of physical affection is not determined by an observer’s opinion, rather within the context of the relationship and family culture. If a kiss on the lips between a child and parent is a way you both enjoy showing affection when saying goodbye, it is appropriate.

There may come a day when your daughter no longer wishes to show her love for you in this way, and that is okay, too. Follow your daughter’s lead; she will let you know if and when she is ready for this goodbye ritual to change. Until then, cherish these sweet moments of your daughter’s childhood. And don’t let another parent’s self-imposed view take away from the innocence of a child’s love for his or her parent.

Q:

For the past two weeks, we’ve been finding our 6-year-old sleeping in our dog’s bed, which is in his room. The dog has slept in his room since our son was an infant. We put our son to bed each night in his own bed, but when we get up in the morning, he’s curled up in the dog’s bed with the dog. Is this something we need to address or should we just leave it alone? — Comstock Mom

A:

This problem sounds like one that may just be a stage your child is going through. It doesn’t appear like there is any reason to be alarmed by this dog-loving behavior but there are some things that can be explored to make sure.

A good place to start with this situation is having a discussion with your son about when he usually moves to the dog bed and why. If he thinks it is fun and he plans to sleep there for enjoyment, this is something that isn’t of immediate concern and he will most likely eventually grow out of the behavior. Natural consequences such as discomfort, dog smell, lack of room, etc., may nudge him toward discontinuing the behavior. However, if he is moving in the middle of the night because he is scared or because he is worried about the dog’s health or wellbeing, this may be a budding problem.

Also, if you notice that his sleeping in the dog’s bed is leading to negative sleep patterns and crabby behavior the next day or if you are not comfortable with him sleeping there, it may also be time to set up a new doggy-loving system. Offering alternatives, such as the dog sleeping on his bed, or having certain nights of the week assigned to having the choice of sleeping with the dog may encourage a change in the behavior.

If you decide this is a behavior you find negative, it may be time to move the dog’s bed out of his room; otherwise, in our dog-loving opinions, this is an age-appropriate behavior that may just need time to pass.

Questions answered by Nichole Holliday, MA, LLPC, LLMFT, Private Practice at Child & Family Psychological Services Portage, and Alyssa Noonan, LLMSW, Private Practice at Child & Family Psychological Services Kalamazoo.

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Appropriate Affection

Views and comfort with different types of physical affection vary from person to person, family to family and culture to culture. The appropriateness of physical affection is not determined by an observer’s opinion, rather within the context of the relationship and family culture. If a kiss on the lips between a child and parent is a way you both enjoy showing affection when saying goodbye, it is appropriate.

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