Have you ever thought about whether you should be showing affection in front of your kids—and if so, how much? I used to question this as well, but ever since becoming a parent, I have opted-in for showing a little parental PDA in front of my son. I grew up in a home with affectionate parents.
My siblings and I would often witness our parents dancing around the kitchen, hugging each other and sharing kisses. Of course, in our adolescent years, the sight of their PDA made us “eek” and childishly cover our eyes and run away, but I believe seeing the consistent display of affection between my parents contributed to my understanding of love as I grew.
Fast forward to now, my husband and I are affectionate parents in front of our son. When we’re on the phone with each other, we blow a kiss before hanging up. Whenever one of us is preparing to leave the house (or whenever one of us returns), we give each other a kiss.
Everytime we give each other a physical kiss or blow a kiss over the phone, our 15-month-old son has now started walking around the house saying “muah” over and over again while having the biggest grin plastered on his face. Not only is it the cutest thing ever that he knows how to mimic our kisses, but it’s also a reminder that our kids are watching us and taking in how we treat each other.
And so that’s why I opt-in for showing a little parental PDA—because it’s not a bad thing at all. It’s actually healthy for kids to witness expressions of love between their parents because it provides a sense of reassurance and security to the child. When kids experience affection between their parents, they grow to understand that their parents cherish and value each other—and therefore cherish and value their children as well.
It allows children to remain rooted in a healthy view of family, marriage and love. And it shows them that caring for someone can be fun and fulfilling (and that it doesn’t have to be unhealthy or hurtful).
Teach them that love is kind and good—and that they can emulate the loving behavior that they’ve witnessed between their parents when they grow up and step foot into the world.
I am especially thankful to my husband for outwardly displaying a love that teaches our son how to respectfully treat and value a woman—as a friend, as a wife and as a mother. I believe that having this daily resemblance of love is something that our child will remember and carry with him as he grows and eventually begins to explore and form his own relationships in the world.
I see our marriage as the center of our child’s awareness and understanding of love, respect and compassion. By maintaining a healthy balance of showing affection, navigating through disagreements in a respectful way, and being kind to each other, we are keeping our child in orbit. We are teaching him to be well-rounded, have boundaries and remain a good-hearted being.
One could say that simply showing affection directly to our child can accomplish all these things, but I strongly believe that there are many advantages that come from him seeing his parents be appropriately affectionate toward each other as well.
I’d like to believe that we are setting the tone for our child’s understanding of giving and receiving expressions of love. I would also like to believe that we are teaching him that love is good and fun—and that he is deserving of healthy love. Even after my husband and I have disagreements, our continuance of care toward each other shows our child what a healthy balance looks like—as well as forgiveness.
So give it a try! Be affectionate parents and show some “G” rated love in front of your children. Whether it be by holding hands, sharing a kiss, having a dance or hugging—show your partner some love while your kids are watching. Because it’s perfectly healthy.
I stand true to the saying that “actions speak louder than words”—because sometimes your kids aren't listening, but they're surely watching your every move. So through your actions and your displays of affection, teach them that love is kind and good—and that they can emulate the loving behavior that they’ve witnessed between their parents when they grow up and step foot into the world.
Because our kids are watching how we treat each other. And we are teaching them what love looks like.