Hugging, holding hands, massaging, kissing… is it ok to do that in front of children? Is it harmful or beneficial? Where do you draw the line?
Even though I personally don’t have kids yet, the way that children are raised is a subject that interests me greatly. I have learnt a lot by analysing what my parents did when I was a child, and by watching other people interact with their young ones.
I recently went with my boyfriend and his family out of town for the day. His brother, who has a very different lifestyle to me, has a 5 year old daughter and he told us both off for being “too affectionate” around her throughout the day. He didn’t like that my boyfriend was lying on my knees or that I gave him a head massage, for example.
I remember when I went to my very first tantra festival, I saw a couple there with their 4 year old daughter. I asked them about it and they said that they don’t take her to the workshops (unless it’s a dance or music one), but they want her to be around loving people so she grows up knowing that love is beautiful and natural.
That day really got me thinking about my own childhood and how I want to raise my kids. Most of our parents suppress their love towards each other around kids and make it seem like it’s something shameful. Then we grow up thinking that it’s shameful and suppress our love towards other human being, not just in front of our kids but in general too. And so the cycle continues, and we live a life hiding our true selves and not expressing the most beautiful feeling in the world.
When I was growing up the only thing I saw between my parents was violence, and when I started discovering my body at the age of 6, my dad shouted at me and instilled a sense of shame that still exists in me on some deep level. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I began to see the beauty of connecting with others.
The same goes for our naked bodies – why are we so afraid to show ourselves naked to our kids? There’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about, we see naked statues in museums all the time and consider it art! Some may argue that it can give kids an sexual interest at a young age. Well guess what, kids already have sexual interests, whether we shame them or celebrate it is up to us!
I remember when I was 8 I used to stay over at one of my friend’s house a lot. It was totally normal to walk around naked in her house, it’s damn hot in Spain after all! Her mum did it, her little brother and so did we. Even at such a young age I saw this as something beautiful and something very freeing. In my teenage years, my stepdad would always swim naked too. He didn’t walk around like that, but if I happened to be in the pool area, he never hid away or acted weird about it.
I believe that it is partly because of these experiences that I developed a deep appreciation of the human body and believe that our sexual nature and our connection to our partners is a beautiful thing. It should be cherished and shared and not hidden away (obviously, with some boundaries). I truly wish my parents had a more loving relationship when I was growing up, maybe then I could have had a better relationship with myself and others at a later stage.