Teaching An American 2 Year-Old To Kiss Like A European

2 years, 1 months.

Dear Jack,

Every night before we put you to bed, you know you have to kiss Mommy and me goodnight.

Right now, we’re helping you figure out how to do it just right.

“No tongue, Jack!”

That’s what Mommy has to remind you because you have this habit; instead of kissing us, you lick us, like you’re a puppy.

The goal is for us to kiss each other on the cheek, not the lips.

But several times now, you have leaned in to me with your mouth open like you’re about to take a big bite out of an ice cream cone.

Please know how hard it is for me not to laugh when you do that, but I know I can’t afford to as I’m trying to get you into sleep mode.

There’s this concept in my head of you and I kissing each other on the cheek as we say hello and goodbye, even as we get older.

I know that may sound a little bizarre at first; mainly because it is. Because we’re Americans living in America.

If we were in Italy or France, it probably wouldn’t be that weird.

Just picture us, 20 years from now, wearing cabbie hats as we greet each other with open arms and a classic European father-son kiss on the cheek.

(Just saying that out loud seems so un-American; like the kind of thing that Paul Rudd would do unsuccessfully in a Judd Apatow movie.)

But that’s how I imagine us; being totally comfortable with being physically affectionate.

Granted, it’s to be done with discretion; not the kind of thing to be executed in front of your friends when you’re in the 6th grade. After all, I’m no helicopter parent nor do I want to be associated with the term “attachment parenting.’

Aside from what I see as unfavorable extremes, I just want it to be normal for a dad to kiss his son hello, goodbye, and goodnight; even if it comes across as European.





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  1. by Adrianne Smith

    On December 28, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Nick! Come on man. Quit hating on us AP parents. As a regular reader I’ve noticed you ofter equate attached parents to helicopter parents. Every time you dangle this little insult carrot in front of me I bite me tongue. Not today. Perhaps we’re “extreme” but attached parents are not the same as helicopter parents. Maybe you just need to be enlightened. Questions? Feel free to ask. All for good friendly debate ofcourse! And I have a question for you: What about “attachment parenting” makes you think of public displays of affection between a parent and 6th grader? That’s just silly.

  2. by Nick Shell

    On December 28, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I bet you’re right: I just don’t know enough about the difference between helicopter and attachment parenting.