David and Victoria Beckham debate: Is it ok for parents to kiss their child on the lips?

June 6, 2017 Published by

Last year we commented on an Instagram post by designer Victoria Beckham, showed her kissing her daughter, Harper, on the lips in an update which celebrated her child’s fifth birthday.Just a few days ago, , David Beckham shared a similar image online and it has once again sparked a parenting debate. 


Kiss for Daddy ❤️

A post shared by David Beckham (@davidbeckham) on

The image has created quite a stir and a debate among the media and the public alike has arisen about whether parents ought to kiss their children on the lips, or whether it is wrong.


As a child psychologist, I have been asked my view on this issue, and I must admit, my first thoughts are not about the kiss itself, but of despair at the media seemingly never giving parents a break. Why do people think it’s ok to judge every aspect of celebrity families? 

On the subject of kissing within families… Many families kiss each other on the lips. Others kiss on the cheek, and others hug. What is important in this situation is that children grow up feeling safe, comfortable and knowing they’re loved. It is not important whether that love is displayed as a kiss on the lips, or an embrace, or even a pat on the back, the importance for children is simply that it is demonstrated in some way.


Why do people think it’s ok to judge every aspect of celebrity families?

– Dr Amanda Gummer

In terms of children’s development, parents should not themselves, nor allow others,  attempt to make any child uncomfortable with unwanted physical displays of affection. So if your child shies away from being kissed on the lips, or being hugged, or with any other physical display of affection, and doesn’t seem at ease, it’s important not to push that.

It’s a good idea to take your lead from the child. If, as you go to kiss a child good night, he or she turns and offers his or her cheek, then that’s where you should plant that good night kiss. If, on the other hand, they pucker up and you are both comfortable, then it’s fine to go with that too. They will let you know what they are comfortable with.

On the whole, babies and young children who have been bought up with certain ways of displaying love within a family will be comfortable with exactly that. But don’t be surprised or upset if a child changes and withdraws a bit from physical displays of affection as they enter teenage years. A child who always used to plant a smacker on a parent’s lips as a toddler may feel more inclined to offer a cheek as he or she grows up. This is often especially true in front of friends -and don’t be surprised if Public Displays of Affection are forbidden by your child in front of friends as they are ‘so embarrassing’. You must respect this and again, go with what they are happy with at all times.

From what we see as outsiders, the Beckhams seem to be a loving, happy family and if their children are happy to kiss and be kissed on the lips, then that is absolutely fine and really ought to be their business, and their business alone.

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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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