When Kids Start Cuddling… With Each Other
Let me admit, my husband and I are an affectionate couple. We have no problem giving a smooch or cuddling up on the couch, whether my daughter is around or not. Personally, I think it’s healthy for her to see appropriate physical affection between two people who love each other. Might it embarrass her a couple years down the road? Sure. But I didn’t think we would have to worry about anything now. Then, I walked into the basement at my in-laws to see my daughter and her five-year old cousin holding hands and squished into a corner of the couch.
“What are you doing, guys?” I asked, as I walked up to them. “We’re cuddling, Momma,” my daughter answered, as if I was asking a blatantly obvious question. And in truth, they did look like they were cuddling. Then, my daughter leaned over and planted a big old kiss on her cousin. The two proudly proclaimed, “We’re going to get married when we get big.”
Well now. Physical affection and incest all in one delightful conversation. This was going to be fun.
As I sat down to discuss my nephew’s intentions with my three-year old daughter, I had to smile at the adorableness of this situation. These two kids, close in age, see each other almost every weekend. They have the same interests, currently Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman. They talk to each other about school and frequently ask for sleepovers. They’re friends. Of course they want a way to show their affection for another. So with this in mind, I settled down to discuss the different types of love and how we express them.
I’m not going to pretend that we had an endearing, heart-felt conversation where I perfectly articulated the difference between the love we feel for our family and the love shared between two committed adults. There was a lot of confusion. Multiple times, my daughter just proclaimed with exasperation, “But I do love him, Mom!” I would clumsily try to explain, “I know you love him darlin. And he loves you too. We’re a family and we all love each other very much. That’s important. But loving our family members is different and special. It’s not the same being married.” My nephew was old enough to realize the holes in my argument. “Uncle Scott is part of your family… And you’re married to him…”
After failing to explain the multiple levels of affection or convince the kids that they felt a certain way, I resorted to an age-old parenting stand by. “I’m sorry my dears, but getting married, that kind of love, is something that you have to decide when you’re older.” Then, we talked about the ways that we could show how much we love each other without all that canoodling on the couch. Needless to say, my daughter has drawn her cousin plenty of pictures this week to display her affaction.
It was an innocent and sweet way to prepare myself for what is sure to be more than a decade of love discussions. I wasn’t prepared to start talking about physical displays of emotion for years. But now that it’s done, I’m happy my daughter and I are beginning these talks early. I’m sure she’ll move on from her cousin and soon want to marry another young gentleman who moves her heart. Years from now, her cuddling might not be quite as adorable. At least for me, it’ll probably start to make me blush. For now, my cuddling little girl will hopefully understand that love is a very special emotion and there are multiple ways to express it.
What do you think readers? Have your kids started mirroring the physical affection they see between their parents? How do you handle smooching toddlers and cuddling pre-schoolers?