Good Parenting=Public Displays of Affection?

be good parentsI saw this picture yesterday and had to laugh, because my husband and I are totally like this. We are constantly holding hands, kissing, snuggling, and generally canoodling, at home, in front of the kids, and in public.

My best friend has a complete opposite point of view. She’s an adamant non-PDA-er. On New Year’s, when I posted a picture of my hubby and me enjoying a New Year’s kiss, she said, “Nobody needs to see that!” We had a whole discussion in which she accused me of “flagrant, high-school PDA,” and I retorted with a comment about her “childish aversion to marital affection.”

Now, just so we’re clear, she is my very best friend and I love her dearly. Comments like that are made with light-hearted affection. We see eye-to-eye on 99.7% of all issues that come up. On the rare occasions when we do disagree, at the very least I come away with a more balanced view of whatever the issue is. She challenges my thinking and sharpens me by forcing me to think about and articulate why I think or feel a certain way about something, and whether my being “right” is more important than the people it affects. This is one of the few about which we disagree. And, to be fair, there probably isn’t a “right” or a “wrong” to this. It’s going to be a matter of personal preference and comfort level for every individual.

That said, here are some of the reasons why I’m a fan of PDA.

I’ve heard this quote often, “The best thing you can do for your kids is love their mother.” There are other incarnations of the same sentiment, but the basic idea is to create stability for your kids by loving each other. So, what better way to communicate that than by being openly affectionate toward each other?

No one has a problem watching a romantic movie or TV show and seeing the hero and heroine kiss. (As a society, we tend to get an immense amount of pleasure from watching a good deal more than kissing, if I may say so.) Why is it so gauche for a married couple (and not just newlyweds–everyone expects it from them) to express physical affection? And might it be this societal pressure against PDA among long-term married couples that leads to common stereotypes, like “once you get married you never have sex”?

The comment I made on the above picture was this: “My kids aren’t old enough to gross out. Also, we do so much smooching as it is, even by the time they are old enough to be grossed out, they won’t realize it’s gross because it’s normal for them.”

Might it be possible for us, as parents, to set the bar of marriage so high, show an example of love and affection so passionate and genuine, that our children see it and strive for a relationship of equal depth?

Feel free to disagree with me. I don’t mind. But I have no intention of ceasing to engage in absurdly flagrant, high-school public displays of affection with my husband.


About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

10 comments on “Good Parenting=Public Displays of Affection?

  1. Fun post, Avily. It got me thinking but I admit to being a non-PDAer. I’ll give a quick kiss, quick back rub and lots of smiles and teasing to my hubby in front of my kids and others. But those up close and personal moments are for behind closed doors. But hey, I envy those who can openly PDA away! I hope as long as my kids see the love and respect I have for their father, they’re getting the right idea.

    • Agreed. There’s a lot of personal comfort level involved, and showing him love and respect is absolutely a vital example to set.

  2. Avily,
    This is definitely an area where you and I see eye to eye. My youngest son is 8, so he is in that awkward stage of life where he recognizes a girl is cute but won’t admit it. I will call him into the kitchen just so he can be grossed out by my wife and I kissing!

    I see the results of this affection in my oldest son (who still has your MIB movies, sadly). He gets it that affection is a way to demonstrate love. He’s told me he likes knowing we are still in love with each other after 15 years, and hopes to have the same type of marriage. Therefore, I propose the following equation:

    PDA = Parenting WIN

  3. All I can say is, “Good for you.”

  4. Last week my husband came home from work and came in and kissed me in the kitchen. To which my son (7) said, “Come on, I am not old enough to see that, it’s like PG-13!” so yes, I think we grossed him out, (and just for the record it was a decidedly PG kiss). I agree that kids needs to see affection between their parents, and know that there is love there. But affection doesn’t necessarily = PDA, and there are many different levels of PDA. I enjoy holding hands, hugging, and even some kissing in front of the kids and sometimes out in public, but I think that there still must be a sensitivity to the people around you. There are many lonely and hurting people in this world, and it can be hard when you see those overly PDA-ish couples everywhere you turn. But I do think that is very important to emulate a relationship that I want my children to have. When they are married I hope they both enjoy loving and affection relationships, but for the next 10+ years, while they are dating, I certainly don’t want them to think that to show love or affection, it needs to be in a physical way. They say the more your willing to do out in public, the more you’re willing to do in private, and as the mother of a preteen daughter and young son, I want them to have a healthy awareness when it comes to PDA in public and if its not something that I would be OK with my daughter doing in front of me with a boyfriend, I don’t think I should be doing it in front of her, even if it is her dad.

    • But it IS her dad, and I think that’s why it’s different. My kids are still young enough that they don’t yet know what sex is, but we do talk with them about what things are appropriate and not appropriate, like kissing. We talk about how it’s okay to kiss your mom and dad, and it’s okay to hug your friends and your cousins (that one we’ve actually had to discuss quite a bit, since my oldest would like to marry one of his cousins, and that cousin has tried to kiss him).
      Just because you show affection with your spouse doesn’t mean you’re teaching your kids to grope their boyfriends/girlfriends. Of course there are boundaries, and she should not feel comfortable snogging her boyfriend in front of you, but that does not mean it’s not appropriate behavior within the construct of a healthy marriage. One does not equate to the other. That’s where healthy discussions about relationships come in.

      • And thank you for commenting, by the way. I actually really love when something I post sparks a good discussion where all points of view can be articulated and mulled over in a mature way. You make some excellent points.

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