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Parents Showing Affection in Front of Kids

by Eliza Martinez

If you shy away from showing affection when your kids are around, you might be doing them a disservice. Clearly, you want to keep physical affection appropriate, but letting your children know that their parents love each other is beneficial in several ways. So, go ahead and kiss your partner when you each get home or hold hands in the grocery store. Your kids will thank you now and later.

Benefits

Showing affection when your kids are around strengthens the love you have for each other, but it also reassures your children, according to Margaret Heldring, president of the Society for Family Psychology. Most kids fear their parents separating and it makes them feel better and safer when Mom and Dad make it clear that they love one another. An affectionate parental relationship also models how such relationships should look as children get older and enter their own romantic partnerships. If you want your children to grow up and have happy, healthy marriages, show them what that looks like.

Appropriate Affection

You don't want to go overboard on affectionate words and actions when your kids are around. This might make them uncomfortable and introduce them to parts of your personal life that you don't want to share. Holding hands, hugs and short kisses are effective, but aren't overtly sexual. Watch the words you say to each other, too. You don't want to say something private and then have to field questions about what it means, or worse, have your child repeat it at school or a friend's house.

Alternate Forms of Affection

Hugs and kisses are forms of parental affection, but you don't have to be restricted to that. Show affection in other ways, too. The more your children see the love between you and your partner, the better able they will be to find a healthy and happy partnership when they get older. Leave each other appropriate love notes, make each other a fancy meal, schedule regular date nights and say nice things to each other. All of these little acts of affection are appropriate in front of your kids and might not make them tell you to quit being gross, like holding hands might.

Considerations

Displaying affection to each other at home is acceptable in kid-friendly ways, but you might want to hold off in public. Holding hands is usually fine, but if you kiss and hug each other in an overtly sexual manner or extremely frequently, you risk embarrassing your children and might not get the approval of others. Also, you want to model to your children that different forms of affection have a time and place.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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