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Here's Why You Shouldn't Be Afraid to Do a Little PDA In Front of Your Kids
  • You don't give hugging and kissing your child a second thought, but engaging in public displays of affection (PDA) with his dad shouldn't make you think twice either. Although your lambing with your significant other — maybe you hold hands, compliment each other openly, or even hug and kiss — becomes embarrassing for your kids as they become a tween or teen, ignore them. Experts say engaging in PDA in front of your kids might actually be helpful for them.

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    It’s OK to do PDA in front of kids

    A 2016 study, carried out by researchers from Wayne State University and published in the journal Health Psychology, found that kids who witnessed their parents being affectionate with one another experienced better lung function and a reduction of asthma symptoms.

    The researchers surveyed 80 children between the ages of 10 and 17 who all had asthma and who were all living with a parent who was either married or in a long-term relationship. Each kid was instructed to keep a diary for four days to record their asthma symptoms, their moods, and the behavior they saw between their parents.

    Samuel Zilioli, who co-authored the study, said, “Parents should be aware that their children emotionally not only to the direct interactions they have with their parents, but also to…interactions their parents have between each other. In turn, these children’s emotional responses can affect their health.”

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    How kids benefit from seeing parental PDA

    The link between asthma and PDA may be tenuous and needs more research. But witnessing parental PDA do have emotional benefits for your children. For one, when kids can see for themselves the loving relationship their parents have with one another, it helps give them a feeling of safety and security.


    “Public displays of affection are very important for kids to witness,” Bette Alkazian, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told Romper. “Knowing that their parents love each other is the foundation of them feeling safe and secure in a loving home.”

    Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, affirmed this view. She said, “Home is the best place for your kids to learn what a loving relationship looks like — and hugs and kisses are a part of that, even for parents.”

    McCready continued, “And remember that even though your kids might pretend to gag when they see you and your spouse kiss, deep down it makes them feel more secure. When Mom and Dad are happy together, it creates a happier family.”

    To some couples, PDA might seem too much or even completely inappropriate, especially when done in front of children. However, as Quartz pointed out, it is important to keep in mind that kids might have a different idea of what a health, loving relationship looks like.

    “To a parent, a ‘happy marriage’ might mean fairly shared responsibilities, meaningful conversation, and private intimacy,” the article read. “To kids, it means outward displays like hugs, kisses, and verbal endearments.”

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    Know your PDA boundaries

    As healthy as it is for kids to see you and your spouse being affectionate to one another from time to time, PDA with kids present has boundaries.If good-natured PDA turns into something of a more sexual nature, it can make everyone seeing it — especially kids — uncomfortable or even scared.

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    “Asking for private time is appropriate, affection is appropriate, but no foreplay, no blatant sexy stuff for kids,” Alkazian elaborated. “Keeping it private also models for kids that a monogamous sexual relationship should be kept between the two participants.”

    Another way to decide on what your boundaries are can be to consider: what would you not want your child to do with his or her boyfriend or girlfriend in the future?

    “Since kids take their relationship cues from us, avoid anything you wouldn’t want your teenager doing with his girlfriend,” said McCready. “Keep anything sexual — whether verbal or physical — private.”

    So, make every day Valentine’s Day for you and your partner — even if that might be a little embarrassing for your kids!

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