Should 5-Year-Olds Kiss Their Friends on the Lips?

It’s a little hard to define things for small children and a few subjects have been recurring lately for my almost 5-year-old. Death, marriage, and love to be specific.

Death I tend to be vague about and plainly say when someone dies, they go to Heaven and live with Jesus. (Our personal family belief.) I quickly change the subject for fear of frightening my son with more detailed information about the concept of death.

Love and marriage comes next, and a few weeks ago I was faced with my first real conversation about getting physical with a friend.

While chatting with my son’s preschool teacher, little Raymond sat in his cubbie chatting with a female friend (we will call her Lucy). Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed they had given each other a little peck on the lips.

I paused mid-sentence and reminded Raymond that we should not kiss our friends, that hugs are best.

Raymond smiled and said, “Okay, mama.” And went back to talking with Lucy.

No sooner had I turned back to the teacher, Raymond was kneeling in front of Lucy in a romantic lip-locked embrace.

“Alright, okay, yes. That is very nice that you love Lucy,” I said gently pulling Raymond and his googly eyes off a smiling Lucy.

Figuring this was an isolated incident, I dismissed it as an innocent act of kindness and went on with my week.

Wednesday came and after school I asked Raymond what he did at school.

Raymond nonchalanlty said, “Well, I was trying to love Lucy on the playground today and Suzy (another classmate) kept getting in my way. I told her I was not going to love her today, that I wanted to love Lucy.”

“What did Suzy say?” I asked.

“She was sad,” Raymond said with a sigh.

I know my son is merely replicating what he sees at home and acting out the physical definition we have given him for love. So when I explained to him that he shouldn’t kiss his friends on the lips, he furrowed his brow and said,

“I shouldn’t love them?”

I could feel my face turning red as I stumbled over my words. I was now confusing him and at the same time, confusing myself trying to come up with some kind of answer.

Why shouldn’t we kiss our friends?

It’s inappropriate?
The little girl’s parents wouldn’t like it?

I let Raymond know we only kiss in our family, that friends hug each other. Raymond said okay and went back to playing with his dragons.

I am finding it hard to explain delicate subjects and always want to be truthful with my children. I am sure as children get older, the awkwardness of grade school kicks in and they do not want to kiss until they come full circle to junior high and high school and innocent kissing turns into full-out sex!

For those of you with bigger kids, how do you go about talking about sex? Did your kids ask you, or did you feel compelled to bring the subject up? What prompted the conversation?

Have you ever caught your child in a compromising situation?
What on earth did you do?????


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  • My husband and I promised that we would tell our kids the truth in age appropriate terms when they asked us any questions about life. However just because we promised this to each other, doesn't mean that we were prepared when our then-third grader turned to us during American Idol and asked, "Mama, what is sex?"
    Before that night, her question always referred to a box on some form or another and it was easy to answer honestly that the questions referred to her gender.
    However, that evening the topic in an an American Idol song clearly had nothing to do with gender!
    So in all of my parenting brilliance, I responded, "Sex? Who the heck knows what that is?!"
    Ooops! My husband quickly left the room before he erupted in laughter. My daughter shrugged in response.
    I spent the next day at Barnes and Noble, perusing a large stack of books to prepare for the inevitable discussion. I was much more prepared when I finally sat her down the next evening.
    Good luck, Elizabeth!
    For now, I will pass along the phrase that my neighbor has given us, "Not during cold and flu season!" This works all year long!

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