Kissing in front of the kids (gasp).

by mssinglemama on January 24, 2012

I know I will get blasted for this one. But, whatever, bring on the hate. This is reality, this is love and this is modern parenthood. We both put our children first and care about them more than anything in the world. What’s the most amazing of all is how much we have all fallen in love with each other.

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One of our hugs leads to a kiss.

When we open our eyes all three are staring up at us. Their heads tilted upwards and smiles spread across their faces. All of them, beaming the purest form of happiness. Collectively they look like a little cheering section for love.

I can’t grab a camera this moment will be over in a second. I just have to take it all in, studying their faces, studying his, little hands cover little mouths as they stifle giggles, “Look, they are kissing! Look!!! Heee heee.”

I’m not even surprised that we are all here because it feels like it’s been waiting for us all along.

It’s the first time they’ve actually seen us kissing. They are also seeing, for the first time, their parents absolutely and totally in love, and the beginning of a happy and fulfilling relationship.We smile and then stop and split up our hug to get back to our hide and seek game.

Later in the car, he says, “Do you know how amazing it is that our kids will get to see a relationship from the start?”

“You’re right! They’ll get to see everything.”

“Yep, the good, the bad and the awesome,” he says smiling.

“They’ll be awesome at dating.” I rest my head back in the seat, closing my eyes for a minute to imagine all three of them as adults with very realistic views about relationships. Or hoping, I suppose. But they’re off to a good start.

What makes a healthy and positive relationship for your children to witness:

  1. Love, yes, but that’s just the start.
  2. Healthy communication. Let them hear you work through dilemmas with your partner. Little dilemmas, like where to put the new fish tank the nanny bought.  Let them hear you laughing and enjoying each other. Let them see you expressing physical expression – but only if they are comfortable with that, which leads to #3
  3. Allow and ask the children to share their opinion. A great way to do this if they are young (like ours – who are 5, 5 and 7) – is asking them to draw pictures of what makes them sad, happy, angry or mad. Also, you can ask them to write their feelings in a journal. The point is to let them express themselves freely without judgement or sadness expressed from you. You are the parent, it is your job to comfort, soothe, listen and embrace whatever it is they need to say. How you respond to their feelings is up to you – but, I would do whatever it would take to make sure you are in fact, responding. Even if that means ending the relationship. This isn’t about you, it’s about them. First and foremost, and always. Also, if your boyfriend reacts negatively to any expression of feelings from your child that may be negative toward him or about an ex of yours, get rid of him.
  4. No shouting, screaming, yelling or fighting between parents or partners. This should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway – to make sure you know that’s not okay (even if your parents did it).
  5. No abuse of any kind. None. Never, ever, ever, no matter what. Another one that should go without saying, but unfortunately some of us are involved in relationships that include: physical abuse, drug abuse, or emotional abuse. When you are dating someone – find out if they have any drug, physical or emotional abuse issues in their past before you become involved. Ask them “So, are you open to therapy?” I hear so many times about men who would never go to a therapist if their life depended on it. Drop them like flies, especially if they have issues. And do it before you become attached. When you are in an abusive relationship, your child will be a victim as well.
  6. Don’t hop back and forth between boyfriends. An ex is an ex is an ex. Leave him in ex-land. I learned this the hard way last year with John. By rekindling our relationship last year, it confused Benjamin. Now he still thinks that the Mr. will be leaving one day. It’s heartbreaking that my son has baggage due to my baggage, that I wasn’t strong enough to just let that relationship end when it had.
  7. Never forget that the children are in the relationship, too. A relationship between adults shouldn’t feel forced and a relationship between children and a potential step parent shouldn’t feel forced either. For all five of us, everything is as natural as can be. We also have very similar parenting styles, which makes it a lot easier. And again, we are incredibly respectful and conscious of the children and their emotions about it all.
  8. Watch the kids. Are they acting out in school? Are they just saying they are happy, or are they really happy? A child just wants you to be happy and could put on a happy face while inside they are not. Look to behavior for hints of their true emotions.

Like you, your children will know when you find the right one–when you find the best kind of love. They’ll know it’s worth every minute of everything that came before, but protecting them from as much of that pain as possible is a must.

Do you have any opinions about the above? I know some of you will and I encourage you to share them.

Related posts:

  1. Will our kids be worse off?
  2. The dating front
  3. Single Mom S.O.S.: Can she take the kids overseas?
  4. With the kids (a contest).
  5. Must Love Kids: Tracy Paye Interview

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica January 24, 2012 at 11:41 am

There is absolutely nothing wrong with kids witnessing their parent kissing someone they are in a relationship with. Not a full on make out session, of course, but to see their mom and/or dad sharing a happy moment with someone else is not bad at all. In fact, I would almost say it’s reassuring to them.

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Beth January 24, 2012 at 11:42 am

Great advice! I believe its healthy for kids to see parents demonstrating appropriate affection. I love #3… kids definitely need a safe outlet to share their feelings. I would also add to #2 that kids should hear/see their parents apologize. It shows kids that adults can make mistakes and own up to them.

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julie January 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I love this! The marriage with my children’s father started in teen years and we never showed affection to each other through out our troubled marriage. I always wanted them to see it and now they do! Ah, amore:)

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guarros January 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm

It makes me sad that you have to think about the hate coming in on your LOVE. Dang, that sentence in it of itself is an emotional roller coaster. I think this advice is perfect advice for all parents – single, co-parenting, dating, in a relationship, married, or divorced. (ETC if there is another category?)

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Amy January 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm

You’re killing your son emotionally.

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Anna January 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hahahaha! Your infinite wisdom is astounding.

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Ali January 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm

It’s a powerful day when you recognize that your harshest judgements are a perfect reflection of your own character. Likewise, those you hate tend to mirror back to you those attributes you most hate in yourself. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a mirror, rather than hiding behind the protective veil of a comment box.

“Every time you point your finger, there are three pointing back at you.”

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Melina February 2, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Ali: What are you talking about? It’s only normal for Ms. Mama to leave an open invitation to anyone that disagrees with her choices to comment. Also, it’s wise of her to prepare them that she is standing behind her choices. Parenting is incredibly difficult. We’re on the frontline. The decisions we make and the values we instill in our children can feel sometimes black and white…life and death…right and wrong. It’s rarely ever true (except in extreme circumstances like abuse etc. that she mentions).

I think that can makes us, as a community, less kind to each other—less open to each other’s differences and methods. Because if we were open to it, then our own methods and worldviews feel threatened.

Ms. Mama took a beating in the “comments” box when she first announced her love. She isn’t hiding behind a damn thing. She’s being loud and proud.

Kudos Mama!

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mssinglemama February 3, 2012 at 7:02 am

Thanks for this Melina, very well put and so true. I hate that we judge each other so often… just because we have differences in parenting styles or beliefs. If we were all the same, what a boring world it would be!

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Karissa January 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I am in my second serious relationship since I left my son’s father. At first I was afraid to show affection with my previous boyfriend, because I did not want to confuse my son. Then I realized that he had never seen me be treated by another adult, let alone treated with love. I thought it would be good for him to see someone love me and treat me right. Unfortunately I had to end that relationship because I did not want a long-distance one. My new(ish) love is local and my son sees us hug all the time – and sometimes kiss. Almost every evening he tries to get in on our goodbye hug, and we are getting good at group hugs :)

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Carla January 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

you are a huge inspiration to me and i think your son is and will be a stable and wonderful person! to hell with the people who cannot see this. who cares!? you rock!

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Andrea January 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

This is awesome! I think it is very important for kids to see a healthy/affectionate relationship from their parent. I grew up with parents that I saw joke around with each other, help each other out, discuss issues/small argument at times, and genuinely love each other. To this day we still get family pictures where my dad is goofing off and grabbing my mom’s butt or something! I love it. :)

My daughter is now seeing me be affectionate and (gasp!) kiss someone I care deeply about. We take cues from her as to what she is ok with, but I love the fact that I can be a role model for her on what a healthy relationship involves.

Thank you so much for continuing to share your journey!

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jen January 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I remember my parents kissing and hugging in the kitchen when we were younger. Pity they don’t do that now! I think it’s good to show the love. If you get blasted for it it’s their issue not yours.

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AnneMarie January 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Key word …… PARENTS….as in marriage….as in family.

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Honey Bee Mama January 26, 2012 at 12:44 am

parents doesn’t imply marriage, or family for that matter. i refer to my mom and stepdad as my parents. just playing devil’s advocate here. please don’t be so hateful.

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Savored Life January 24, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Your posts continue to make me smile…

I’ve always been a proponent of (appropriate) public showings of affection. I love hugging & kissing on my Munkees and they love that I hug & kiss on them (not in front of their friends, of course :P ), so it’s only natural that I hug and kiss my husband as well. Now, they didn’t witness this with everyone I dated (they barely met any of them, in fact), but, if they were serious enough to MEET them (2), they saw us hug/kiss.

You’re in love. And we express this love and joy through affection. Having Benjamin SEE these displays of love/friendship/companionship (and your reaction), he knows you are Happy and Loved.

<3

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Anna January 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Is it healthy for kids to witness adults who have true love and affection for each other? Hell yes. ‘Nuff said.

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Jenn January 25, 2012 at 10:23 am

I see absolutely nothing wrong with children seeing & being involved with relationships every step of the way.

I think it would be more confusing for them as well as the guy we’re dating if we waited up to 2 months or more for them to finally meet & become involved in the relationship.

When my boyfriend & I began hanging out, it was different because we were only friends with no intention of dating after knowing eachother for 10 years & losing touch.
He met my daughter & automatically became involved in our lives.
Both my daughter & myself fell for this wonderful man, leading us to deciding to date 2 months later.

My boyfriend does not have any of his own children. I believe him being involved & meeting my daughter right away allowed him to accept me as well as my hectic life. Had he not, it may have caused problems once my hectic life was finally exposed to him.

We’re not children ourselves anymore, we are strong independant once single moms who know what we want & have better judgement than we did before.
If you feel this guy is “the one” (like I do with my guy) then follow your heart & all the best!

PS I am so sorry you have to worry about hate & rude comments. Each time I read one my heart drops for you.

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AnneMarie January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

“Modern Parenthood” BAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH Denial maybe, but nothing modern for sure.

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Stac January 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm

What are you hoping to accomplish?

I’m sorry we live in a world where women feel the need (or more importantly feel they have the right) to shame other women. What does it matter to you? It must matter very much for you to make multiply comments.

There is no dignity in trying to cut down another person.

This is just adult bullying. This makes me sad.

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stacey January 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I’m sorry you have to worry about negativity. Envy isn’t nice but its a human emotion we all go through.

I do enjoy your blog but I will admit to having feelings of envy. In my eyes you have a really privileged life. I have been a single mom for several years with zero luck on the romance or job front.

The point is those feelings are my problems, not yours. Who is anyone to judge any other life and experience but their own?

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cougarmom January 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Hey -

I really can relate to your feelings right now. I was there (at least on the romance front) less than 2 months ago. For years…. last summer I pretty much just gave up on even having a halfway decent date, never mind any kind of decent relationship, and suddenly what dropped into my life is probably the best and hottest guy ever. Sure, nothing is perfect, and who knows – this could all go down in spectacular flames – so please don’t go all envying me yet ;) Just wanted you to know that things can change very quickly.

My 2 cents worth if you want it : just love (your kids, your family, your friends, AND YOURSELF) as much as you can where you can, because that will come back to you in many ways, and the good ones will see that and respond to it.

You are a single mom, and you are awesome.

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Melina February 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Stacy,

I totally agree with cougarmom. Six months ago I had finally gotten to a place where I loved my life and my hobbies and friends and MYSELF so much that dating really started to feel like a waste of time…no one had really stood out as the kind of quality man I was seeking.

Then one week I had told myself “that’s it! No more dates. I’ll keep the ones I’ve planned, but after this week. Done. ” (i was using OK Cupid at the time)

That last date was the one where I left my apartment door, locked it behind me while sighing “ugh, another f8%*$ing date.” He turned out to be Mr. Right. We’ve been together 6 months now and I am so happy that I pinch myself frequently. My son and he are developing such a caring and special friendship.

It’s funny that it took me really loving myself and being finally happy on my own before the right fella came along. Or maybe I was just choosing better by then? who knows.

Anyway. Keep the faith and keep on keeping on. You’ll get there!!

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Jenny January 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I don’t think there is a thing wrong in the world for kids to see their parents expressing love. A big make out session? Yeah, that would be wrong. But a hug, a kiss, handholding? Why not?

As for the little, he will be okay. Everyone has baggage for one reason or another. As long as you are not blind to it, it will be fine. He will overcome. I don’t think negative life lessons are such a bad thing to learn. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses. I’ve been trying to tell myself this over and over when I hear my own little tell me he feels left out with the arrival of his new little sister 9 months ago. It’s not such a terrible thing to realize that life isn’t all about you, right? Everything in life has positives and negatives. It’s not a tragedy to learn that and Benjamin isn’t going to end up homeless, and alone because you tried to make a relationship work.

With that said, does he, or you, still have contact with John? It may help him to know that John still cares for him and is still out there, that he hasn’t disappeared. That the relationship ending between the two of you did not end his caring for the little.

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Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) January 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm

It’s interesting to me that you encourage allowing children to see affection (#1 and 3) but not conflict (#4). Both are valid feelings and parts of a relationship.

I actually favor my daughter witnessing my husband and I having disagreements, even big ones, because it shows her the true parts of relationships – how we argue, disagree, shout, feel upset or angry, and then come to a solution while still loving each other. We aim to avoid name calling, blaming, shaming, and violence in disagreements. If we make a mistake, we apologize, in earshot of our girl.

Of course there is a big distinction between conflict and uncontrolled fighting. I can see that you might have meant in #4 to not allow kids to see ugly fighting. And in the early part of a relationship, witnessing disagreements would be very confusing to a child.

But later on, after a foundation of trust has been formed, dodeling how to have a loving conflict is just as important as modeling how to be romantic.

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mssinglemama February 3, 2012 at 7:31 am

I do want them to see conflict, but not nasty “ugly” fights. Definitely… conflict is TOTALLY healthy to witness. I want them to see us argue and come to a resolution so they see how that happens. We also apologize to the kids a lot if we mess up or lose our temper. I want them to be able to apologize and admit when they are wrong, something that I am still working on myself!

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Jennifer January 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm

You are an inspiration to a lot of women. You sound like a great mother on top of it all! Don’t listen to the people that judge you, just look at how many women are willing to stick up for you!! Keep it up!

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mssinglemama February 3, 2012 at 7:29 am

I won’t listen, I promise. Thank you.

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Lucky love S January 25, 2012 at 11:44 pm

As a child development specialist, I agree with most of your points. Showing children how to express and receive love, even recover from or leave heartbreak and unhealthy relationships is one of the most important lessons you can teach them. I too would add that having your children watch you and partner have a “clean” fight (no name calling or abuse) and apologize or work through the issue is equally important. As for outlets for expressing their emotions it will rarely come out in a journal you’ll be allowed to see. Sometimes it will come out in art. It usually comes out for young children through pretend play. This is how children make sense of the world around them abd their role in their family and community. Parents need to listen, watch and TALK to their children about any big change in their lives, especially family structure.

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Honey Bee Mama January 26, 2012 at 12:48 am

so glad to hear your imput with your training and background – sounds like those of us trying to navigate these waters aren’t too far off!

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mssinglemama February 3, 2012 at 7:29 am

Thank you for this! Come back and tell us more if you can. ; )

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danielle January 26, 2012 at 11:06 am

your honesty is appreciated wholeheartedly, both by me and i am sure by these children who are learning how to navigate relationships, both familial and romantic, through you and the mr.

i think it’s sad that some still hold on to the notion that others should be criticized and crucified for their path to happiness… you love your son with your whole being and it shows… my parents, nor their parents, nor theirs were not perfect nor did they always act in such a way that we were shielded from the grittiness that is reality.

just because you don’t fall into the convenient mold of traditional motherhood and parenting doesn’t mean you are ruining anyone. thank you for keepin’ on.

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Ms. Single Mama January 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I don’t know about all of you – but I am learning SO much from all of these insightful comments. Thank you all, I have read every one of them and appreciate it all. I know – as long as we all put our kids first and are so concerned – they will probably all be just fine. ; )

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Glenda January 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

It’s ashame that you have to put a disclaimer at the top of your blog because of all the hateful comments people tend to leave.

To that I say, do what feels right for you, the Mr, Ben and the other children.

LOVE is LOVE! and I think it’s wonderful that the children see their parents are in a happy, healthy relationship.

Best Always!

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mjhighroad January 27, 2012 at 11:46 pm

The best thing for a child is a happy, confident and well adapted parent. Judging from what I see here your child has the best.

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Bear January 30, 2012 at 2:02 am

It’s easy to forget what you surely know: Whether they let on or not, you are a model for your child, every moment of every day. Children have other influences, of course, but think about how much of your own self you owe to powerful moments in which you observed your parents, perhaps when they didn’t even realize it.

So my vote is, give affection freely, love your man openly, and treat one another with compassion and kindness even when you disagree.

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angela January 31, 2012 at 12:25 am

I would just like to say that I ran across this site while searching for advice on being a single mother, and I have completly fallen in love with your lifelong adventure! You seem to be truely amazing and very kind hearted. I hope the best for you and your family. And don’t let haters get you down just always remember misery loves company! (And you don’t have time to visit) ;-)

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Rachel February 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm

I am so happy for you…love your blog and appreciate your willingness to share even though some people will hate…misery loves company and when others are happy, those who are not try to bring them down with them.
I don’t know you but it sounds like you are doing a great job. I linked you to my blog (;

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mssinglemama February 3, 2012 at 7:16 am

Thanks, Rachel – are you a single mama blogger as well? I can add you to my blog roll!

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Rachel February 26, 2012 at 6:18 am

Hey there,
I blog Single Mama stuff and art/photography stuff I dabble in when I have time. That would be great! Thanks (:

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ed February 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Just because it is modern does not mean it’s okay or that there are not long term negative consequences. My mom said when she was a kid modern meant eating canned peas and other canned delicacies. We now know better. At one point spraying DDT on food was seen as the modern method of controlling insects… we now know it causes cancer and other wonderfully modern genetically mutated children. Perhaps modern just simply means you have no idea what the ramifications are but it seems to be good in the short term? Modern means new not awesome.

As for your 8 points only 1,2 and 6 are relevant. 3, 4, 5, 7 are somewhat relevant but not everything that was written is true or correct. 8 does not = healthy.

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Sparkle April 18, 2012 at 1:23 am

Ed, I would like to point out, that none of us knows the future… our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, all modeled what came before them and we are here today aren’t we? Of course, no one is perfect and people are fully capable of making mistakes. That being said, this IS a new frontier for many.

Many of these women/men are coming out of relationships that haven’t been healthy, for themselves or their children. Now they are more watchful, paying attention to cues, signs, that gut feeling. That can be seen as a modern way of thinking. The ability to adapt. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents may have done differently. They might have stayed in the abusive or stagnant relationship. They may have had different views on how to handle love & life. (Hence the folks with viewpoints predating their births.) But the fact that many people today are trying to be open-minded, to make different choices to protect themselves & their children from wrong, signifies to me that people are evolving. And although it may not be done to perfection, it is right…

The fact that they aren’t running the other way from Love is absolutely amazing and so, so brave… It shows that even through the heartbreak, trauma, intense emotions, that people still have hope to see things done the right way. And that is purely a blessing in itself… :)

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Single Mama 2 February 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

I dated a guy, but the experiene was awful, because she can’t accept my bf. She guarded our actions whenever we show in front of her – She stop us from intimating. No matter how hard he tried to get close to her, she refused.

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anton August 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I really love this one..Looking for partners? Why don’t you try this site? http://1mate.org/

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Mary Italroz December 6, 2012 at 3:40 am

Well, kissing is never been that harsh, so I guess it’s just okay to have a kiss in front of your kids. As long as, you’re not making any moves that make it bad in their eyes, then there’s no need to worry about. I know, your kids are just aware of your love to each other, then I think they already know that kissing is just part of showing your love to your partner as couple. :)

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Jessie February 6, 2013 at 1:42 am

Hmmm..I guess, it’s just normal for those couple who are in love to each other.

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