Friday, February 5, 2016

Our Kissing Tradition

Always kiss your children goodnight, even if they're already asleep. ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

From what I have seen on the Internet, this topic seems to be very controversial but I am going to write about it because I think people make too much of it, especially considering the variety of cultures within all the Western countries.

We have had this tradition, since my daughter began sitting up to eat, that we ask God to bless our food to nourish our bodies and then we all kiss each other...on the lips. It was cute when the Princess was young, but we just never stopped. When we are at a restaurant, we touch our finger to our mouth and then touch our fingers, when it is not convenient to kiss across the table.

Now, this kiss after a prayer was not a tradition in my family, nor my husband's. It is just something we began doing and it stuck. We also kiss on the lips when saying good-bye and good-night.

Sometime after the Princess turned twelve years old, she began to be a bit more self-conscious about our kissing tradition in front of people and where her friends might see, like when I would drop her off at the Home Study Center, so I accommodated with kissing her cheek when she would present it instead, which was off and on.

Now, as to the controversy, I was raised in a home with sexual abuse from which my Lord has healed me. I honestly and with all good intentions look forward to seeing my father in heaven, because I have completely forgiven him and hold absolutely no ill will towards him. I admit that I did not want even the possibility of exposing my daughter to him, because while I had fully forgiven him for what was done to my siblings and me, I also did not trust him with any children. Forgiveness does not equate to trust. Forgiveness is given, trust is earned. All this is to say that I would NEVER put my daughter at risk for her to be abused and since I have had that experience in my life, I know very well what can make a child more vulnerable to such abuse. Hold that thought for a minute.

I remember when I was in middle school, the time when children become so self-conscious, my aunt kissed me on the lips when saying good-bye. At the time, I was still enduring the abuse that she would not know about for a few more years (actually she was the one who figured it out and brought it to an end). She thought nothing of the kiss probably because half of our family is French descent and that is what they all did. I, on the other hand, felt it was the one intimate act that I had kept apart from the abuse. I could not stop anything else, but I made it clear that kissing was off-limits. This simple act that my aunt did out of love and respect and tradition felt foreign, surprising, and perhaps a bit of an invasion in a way to me. I was keenly aware that she was a woman kissing a girl, even though she probably had done it many times when I was younger, but since I only saw her a few times a year at the most, I had probably forgotten.

That one good-bye kiss from my aunt is something she probably does not even remember, but it was burned into my memory. Being that I was of the age of being self-conscious, I realized it was a familiar, casual, and perfectly normal act from her point of view and that is why it bothered me; it was not that for me at that point and I knew that it could have been and probably should have been because all the relations on my mother's side kissed on the lips. Also, it is not something done in just my family, my husband's family also kisses on the lips. Come to think of it, maybe it was also a generational tradition since they are the same age as my aunt and uncle?

I read many books about personalities and teaching approaches particularly in regards to children, but the one book that really stuck out to me was about the love languages. I still have not determined what my daughter's love language is and I think that is because we have kept her bank full in all of them. If she was deficient in the one she needs the most, we would know what that one is. For instance, the child has always loved to give gifts, but is not particularly disappointed when she does not get gifts...maybe she is divergent or factionless in the love languages? Regardless, I did not want her to be needy in the physical touch arena, because I knew that would make her more susceptible to an abuser or a premature physical relationship. I wanted her to know genuine love and respect through appropriate touching so that she would reject anything that was not appropriate.

When she was a baby, we used to give her a massage before bedtime. My husband changed her diapers and bathed her as often as I did. We wanted her to know that she could trust both of us and that is how she grew up. I wanted her to know that a kiss on the lips from a close family member is a show of love: her paternal grandmother did not even have to be encouraged in that! When she was a toddler, the Princess kissed a sick baby on the mouth and got a stomach flu, afterward she stopped kissing other children and today she thinks kissing anyone else but close family as...ewwww!

So, as to why I am writing about this now: The Princess and I went to a science museum to which we have a membership for a Lunch & Learn with a presentation on Issac Newton. Although I was fasting, the Princess grabbed a tuna salad sandwich and a salad from the cafe to eat during the presentation. She prayed, holding my hand which is also our tradition, and then to my surprised she kissed me on the lips. I was not surprised because she rarely does it, because we do this at least twice a day, but because she did it in public without giving it a thought in hesitation.

Immediately, I wondered what the other people there, mostly homeschoolers, would be thinking, but I did not look around because I really do not need their approval or their disapproval. I was just so very pleased that my daughter felt comfortable enough in that setting to do what we normally would do if we were home. There are glimpses of maturity in the child now and then that just leave me in awe.

Now I have a question:
Do you think you would feel odd to kiss Jesus on the lips?

My Lord, thank you for our ability to show affection to each other with all that is good, without fear and distrust. Thank you for breaking the cycle of abuse and victimization in me so that none of it has touched my daughter and influenced her relationships.

2 comments:

  1. We are huggers, not kissers so I can't answer your question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We do both, but I had never really thought about kissing my Lord before. I really would not know how to answer it myself.

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