This family is at war over relatives lip-kissing each other. Who’s in the wrong?

Pascal Broze/Getty
Pascal Broze/Getty

It’s always been true that some families are more physically affectionate than others. But what happens when some family members want to be touchy-feely, while others want to draw boundaries against that? One family asks Reddit for advice after a “kissing on the lips” situation has caused major conflict.

“The family has split over my wife’s brother wanting to lip kiss our 2 year old daughter every time her sees her,” a dad wrote on Reddit’s Parenting forum. “My wife complained to her mother about it and her mother accused her of being “disgusting” and wouldn’t intervene. Are we crazy or is there any excuse for this behaviour? We have had to cut all ties with them over it.”

In a later edit, the dad added more context: “Yes this family has been a lip kissing one and that is what has complicated the outcome. My wife did ask him to stop but he didn’t and because she didn’t want to create waves in the family she went to her mother to get some influence from her. This is when she was called ‘disgusting’. Although some people practise lip kissing I don’t think a child should have it thrust upon them especially so when they are too young to understand it properly.”

He also added, “The family seems to have taken it as offensive act to want him to stop which has broken the family because they couldn’t respect our wishes. Personally I think it is a disgusting thing to have to be forced into especially if you are a child and that is what we asked them to respect. They saw otherwise and among other things (this has been a long affair) called my wife an a**hole as though that should make her realise she has done something wrong. I’m at a loss for how self assured and concerned some people are. For the record my daughter was visibly uncomfortable with it although they argued we were seeing things.”

In the comments, people were on the parents’ side when it comes to kissing on the lips, but wanted him and his wife to stick up for their daughter’s boundaries — not depend on any other family members to do it for them.

“Why did your wife complain to her mother? One of you (the parents) needs to directly tell BIL ‘don’t kiss her on the lips,'” one of the top comments reads.

“I would never kiss someone else’s kid on the face, especially not the mouth. Why aren’t yall telling him directly? There is no reason to involve the mother. Tell him straight up,” another comment adds.

Another top comment adds, “It’s not even about it being sexual. It’s a gross way to spread germs and while obviously children cannot always consent to the touch of responsible adults, they should not be forced to kiss anyone. It’s an unnecessary invasion of personal space.”

Amen to that. In the age of COVID and RSV, lip kissing should be a boundary we all set.

And then there’s this comment, which is extremely pragmatic about the whole situation: “It’s not weird to do it necessarily, but it’s also not weird to not be ok with it.”

At the end of the day, every person is allowed to set their own boundaries. But kids don’t inherently know how to do that — or how to safely enforce them, so it’s up to their parents to teach them and help.