A short clip of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady kissing his 11-year-old son on the lips has re-ignited a passionate debate about the age at which parents should stop, if at all.
During a Facebook docu-series called “Tom vs Time,” there is a scene where Brady’s massage is interrupted by his young son, Jack. Poking his head in, Jack asks whether he can check his fantasy team. “What do I get?” responds Tom, at which point his son gives him a quick kiss on the lips.
But as Jack turns to leave the room, Tom says: “That was like a peck.” Brady’s son then turns around to give his father a longer kiss on the lips, while the massage therapist working on Tom says: “You know Jack, everything comes with a cost, bud.”
The Super Bowl-bound star’s actions have thrown light on an issue which divides experts – as well as those on social media.
It was back in 2010 that child and educational psychologist Dr Charlotte Reznick launched the first grenade in this particularly charged debate.
“If you start kissing your kids on the lips, when do you stop? It gets very confusing,” she said during an interview. “As a child gets to 4, or 5, or 6 and their sexual awareness comes about, the kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them.
“Even if that never occurs to a child, it’s just too confusing! If mommy kisses daddy on the mouth and vice versa, what does that mean when I, a little girl or boy, kiss my parent on the mouth?”
The comments are so strong that they keep resurfacing every few months and going viral online, prompting responses from other experts who deal with childhood issues.
In 2015, Dr Fiona Martin from the Sydney Child Psychology Centre, said parents could be unnecessarily confused by the advice, and said that anything which promotes “emotional connectivity” is a good thing. The majority of experts appear to side with Dr Martin.
It’s a quagmire which various celebrities have run into in the past – and their responses have been generally defiant.
After being targeted online for kissing daughter Harper, 5, on the lips, last year, football star David Beckham responded: “I got actually criticised for kissing my daughter on the lips the other day. I kiss all my kids on the lips.”
And when Hilary Duff drew criticism for kissing her son Luca, 4, on the lips, she replied: “For anyone commenting that a kiss on the lips with my four year old is ‘inappropriate’ go ahead and click a quick unfollow with your warped minds and judgment.”
Brady’s actions, predictably, provoked varied responses on social media, with many revealing the display of affection made them uncomfortable.
One person wrote: “As someone who comes from One Of Those Kissing Families, I really wanted to be able to defend Tom Brady here, but… the kiss is pretty weird.”
Another said: “Being affectionate toward your kids isn’t weird nor is giving them a kiss. What is weird is Tom Brady calling his son back for another kiss that lasts five seconds long cause the first one was ‘just a peck.’”
However, given that Brady was spotted kissing his father on the lips after last year’s Super Bowl victory, evidence suggests that the Brady family are simply more affectionate than most.