Should I Kiss my Sons?

photo (13)Sorry about this, but I’m going to have a rant. I know this blog is supposed to be light-hearted; five minutes mild amusement in the middle of a stressful day and all that. But I need to have a rant.

And the rant is about kissing. Specifically, men kissing their sons.

I went into town on Saturday. Popped in to Ben before I went. Quietly, obviously. Can’t disturb a man when he’s killing aliens. “See you later,” I said. “Just going into town.” And I bent down and kissed the top of his head. “Love you lots,” I said and went.

I came home and did some work online. And somehow I stumbled across an article on a site called Babble. It’s something to do with Disney, so you’d assume a few people read it. Its basic premise was simple: American men stop kissing their sons – as the article put it, ‘by the time the kid is barely old enough to pee in the potty.’

I can honestly say that I’ve simply never thought about kissing my sons. I do it all the time. But the more I thought about the post, the stronger my feelings became. And the next time Ben came downstairs to re-fuel (I didn’t have to wait long) I kissed him again.

Ah, you say. That’s all very nice – but it doesn’t count. It’s in the privacy of your own home.

Fair point. Then again I gave him a lift to school the other day. Drove into the school car park. Put my arm round him, pulled him towards me, kissed him on the top of his head. “See you at teatime,” I said. “Have good day. Love you.”

Tom? He’s a bit more reticent than Ben but hell, he’s an engineer. He doesn’t really do emotion. He does equations with that big, squiggly F at the front of them.

But if he walked into my office right now I’d simply stand up and hug him without thinking. I might kiss him as well – and I’d do that without thinking. Tough to kiss him on the top of his head though – damn it, he’s taller than me.

Let me tell you what else I’m prepared to do with my sons. Cry.

Three years ago Tom applied to Cambridge University. This was the little boy I’d taken to nursery, the child I’d read stories with, the teenager who’d caused us to march up to school and explain that no, he wasn’t falling behind – he was so far in front he was bored to tears.

So when he got his offer letter I hugged him, I kissed him and I burst into tears. What else was I going to do?

What about my Dad? I know he loved me. Now I’m a Dad I know he loved me to the ends of the earth. Did he ever say ‘I love you?’ No, of course he didn’t. Because his generation didn’t do that.

At the end of my second year at university I went to Germany to see my girlfriend. Dad took me to the railway station. It was the first time I’d been away on my own. Suddenly we both realised we had to say goodbye. Significant goodbye. We’d never done it before. Of course we didn’t hug. We shook hands. I’d like to think ‘shall I hug him’ ran through my Dad’s mind. I know it didn’t.

But our generation of Dads is lucky enough to be able to say ‘I love you’ to our sons, to hug them without thinking about it – and yes, to kiss them. It’s a precious gift. Don’t you dare waste it…

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and moderately humorous to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. If you buy from this is the link




  1. says:

    I would have been a better person if Daddy had hugged, cuddled and kissed me!

  2. Somehow I missed this post the first time around, but anyway, I still kiss my big 19-yr-old son on the head. Usually when he’s on the sofa. I can stand behind him, reach down, hug him & plant a fatherly kiss on his head. Still feels natural for both of us. I don’t think I could plant a smacker on his face. That would be awkward now. That’s reserved for GFs. But top of the head, that’s MY territory. I have a flag planted there. 🙂

    • Good for you, Alastair. Yep, I’m in top of the head territory most of the time as well. I do the standing up hug though – although it’s getting difficult now even the youngest is a couple of inches taller than me. Just hope they all return the favour when I’m in the Writer’s Block Home for Retired Bloggers…

  3. What a fabulous post. My son is 3 but I intend to keep hugging and kissing him and letting him know I love him, I love that you a like this with your sons 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Laura. Remember when my youngest was three and he clutched my hand as I took him to nursery. Couple of weeks later and he’s in the middle of GCSEs. But I still hug him and kiss when I drop him off at school. Can’t help it! Same with eldest who is 21 now: massive hug when I collect him from university. Thanks again – enjoy your weekend 🙂

  4. Love the post. Definitely keep kissing your sons!
    Also, I know many American men who kiss their sons. Maybe it’s more regional. Not sure… but here in South Florida everyone kisses!


    • Thanks for the comment: as it says, the post was originally inspired by reading an American Dad’s lament so maybe you’re right, maybe it is regional. Have to say gazing out of my window at the rain this morning South Florida sounds a remarkably attractive place to be… Have a great weekend 🙂

  5. Cindie | Parenthood Moments ( says:

    Yes! You should NEVER stop kissing your son! Maybe not on the lips when they are older, lol, but always show them how much you love them!

    Love your blog!


    • Thanks, Cindie – glad you like the blog: always worry how my humour will ‘translate’ to the US. And don’t worry – still kiss my youngest son when I drop him off at school. Kudos to him for being really cool about it. Thanks for the comment.

  6. My FIL kisses all of his kids, they embrace every time they see each other, no matter how long (or little) has passed. Three sons aged between 28 and 32 and a daughter who is 18. I felt really awkward about it as I come from a family who is very much the opposite, now when I see my brothers and family I have to stop myself from the hug and kisses because they’d think I’m a complete loony!

    • I seriously hope I never stop that – or telling my kids that I love them. When my son – who’s 21, doing engineering and not naturally demonstrative – ends a phone call with ‘love you’ I suspect I may not have been a complete disaster as a Dad…

  7. This world needs as much love as it can get. Keep kissing, keep hugging, treasure every minute. You never know whats round the corner. Every morning when I take my 2 little monsters to school I am there shouting “ENJOY YOURSELF (In school haha), LOVE YOU, EAT ALL YOUR DINNER, PLAY NICE, SEE YOU LATER, BYEEEEEE KIDS” and I wouldnt have it any other way. My kids know they are loved 🙂

    • …And just keep on doing it. Dropped Ben off at school this morning. Still kissed him, still told him I loved him. 17 in October but I’m damned if I’m going to stop. And he told me he loved me – can’t be a better way to start the day.

  8. American dad here, just read both articles. I kiss my son and daughter everyday whenever leaving or greeting them. My father was not very affectionate growing up so I have made a conscious effort to be affectionate with my kids especially my son. I don’t see other fathers kissing their sons, but I don’t give it a second thought. I assume that my son doesn’t either because he has never made any attempts to avoid my kiss at home or in public. I wish more dads were openly affectionate with their sons. It would make such a huge difference in their self confidence and in the way they threat each other.

    • Thanks for the reply, Eric and really glad the blog has some readers in the US. Funnily enough I was thinking about that post when I dropped my son off at school last week. He’s 16 now but I leaned over and kissed the top of his head just like always. He has no problem with it at all – like you say, if more dads did it maybe their sons would behave differently. Like all dads I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but kissing my sons is one thing I’ve emphatically got right. Thanks again.

  9. I read this with interest as my father is in his 70s now and I would never have said that he is physically demonstrative. However, without fail, he has always given my brother and I a proper hug and a kiss whenever we’ve been to visit as adults – actually I lie, he wouldn’t go near us when he had a stinking cold. But it sounds to me that I have been amazingly lucky to be brought up with this kind of attitude. In fact, the same can be said for my husband’s dad and he is almost 80.

    Needless to say our sons get hugged and kissed – but I shall treasure this knowing how rare it seems to be for my generation.

    Lovely post Mark 🙂

    • Thanks, Karen – glad you enjoyed it. The original post – where an American dad said that hugging and kissing your son was pretty much taboo over there – remains one of my more depressing reads of 2014.

  10. Just found your blog via Love All Dads. Really like this post. Like many dads of the Boomer generation mine wasnt a kisser or a hugger. I didn’t and don’t doubt that he loved me but he didnt know how to show it. So since becoming an older dad in my forties im determined to show heaps of affection to our baby boy. Good to hear someone who feels the same and still keeping it up now their sons are grown/growing up. You’ve inspired me to write about this myself.

    • Thanks for that comment – I don’t think there’s much I can add to it as you’ve pretty well said it. Good luck with the writing and I hope your son gives you the same amount of pleasure my boys have given me. Been a huge privilege to be the father of my children.

  11. Ashley Pederson says:

    My son is 14 and he tries to act like he isn’t interested in that kind of affection, but he doesn’t fight too hard if I try to grab him and hug/kiss him… he loves it! I think it is important in keeping lines of communication open. There is a great book titled, “Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day” by “Susan Newman, Ph.D” that points out the importance of these types of encounters with your children- creates memories. I mention the book because I think you would really enjoy it…It is full of ideas on how to create a warm, fun family environment children will recall happily!

    • Thanks for that: I absolutely endorse that point about communication. If we’ve done one thing right as parents (and like all parents, we made plenty of mistakes) it’s that we never stopped talking to our children and discussing things with them. If you can’t talk to your kids when they’re 7 or 8 you have absolutely no chance when they’re teenagers. Thanks again.

  12. Never stop hugging and kissing your sons.

    • Temporary stop in our house since I came back from London with the One Cold to Rule Them All… I’m having to wave at him from ten feet away I’m sneezing so much…

  13. Love and affection should be encouraged whatever the gender. Boys are so loving, my son (4 yrs) loves to give and receive kisses from both myself and his dad, it’s natural to him. We couldn’t stop kissing him even if i wanted to, he’s too delicious! Great post Mark x

  14. I think it’s excellent that you kiss your sons, Mark – this post brought a lump to my throat. I never saw my dad kiss my brothers when they were older. He was of that generation. Sad really.

    • Thanks for that. Not too sure my eldest [21] would describe it as ‘excellent’ but I’m going to keep doing it…

  15. I have and will continue to tell my girls that I love them whilst giving them the biggest of bear hugs until the day I die 🙂

  16. I think this is a beautiful post, and it made me think about my sons and also the relationship with my father and also my husband.
    My father only hugged me once. On my wedding day. I will always treasure it.
    He always hugged and kissed the boys while he was alive, and I got a peck on the cheek!
    My husband always kissed the boys, until they stopped it, probably about the time they went to college. BUT they always hug each other when they see each other now.
    My husband always kissed his grandfather, even as an adult. Strangely. I presume that this will be the case with grandchildren should we be lucky enough to have any.
    So my best guess would be that it is a generational thing, and that hopefully, it will improve as generations become more used to showing affection towards each other. We can but hope!

    • Thanks for that, Hilary. Generational seems to be right – hopefully we’re bringing up a generation of sons prepared to show their emotions. My sons hug each other as well. Maybe a little stiffly, but they do…

  17. I love this post Mark. It’s definitely a generational thing. My dad rarely hugs let alone kisses, and when he does it’s always really awkward. My husband’s parents were the same and yet we hug and kiss our kids all the time. I’ve noticed that the kids are the same with their mates. I remember being really surprised when I took my son to view 6th form colleges and he kept hugging people he came across if he hadn’t seen them for a while – even the lads. I think the world’s a better place because of it too. 🙂

    • Thanks, Diane and yes, you’re right. My children are the same. What you hope is that the boys carry that affection on when they become fathers & their own children are teenagers. How many unhappy childhoods did the British stiff upper lip create?

  18. Love this post. It’s brilliant to hear you still kiss your sons. It’s so easy to lose it and I’m determined to keep kissing mine! I hope my husband will too, although my younger son is like your eldest – he’s not keen on it!
    For some reason, I stopped kissing my mum as a teenager and I hate that. I wish I’d never stopped, but I feel unable to start again. I hate having to kiss people who are virtual strangers, yet I don’t kiss my own mum!

    • My eldest is pretty relaxed now, Sarah. When the kitchen cupboard door falls off and your Dad runs off to write about it as opposed to fixing it, you get used to him behaving a little oddly! So what’s the occasional kiss? We’ll eventually find some Greek/Italian blood in my family tree… Hope you’re enjoying half-term

  19. Never stop kissing your sons, makes me so sad to think kissing your children, irrespective of gender is questioned. Culturally, being Greek and looking at a lot of the rest of the world, men, frirnds, brothers, cousins kiss publicly and freely. You can’t have too much love. Thanks for this post x (leaving you a kiss, the irony)

  20. Brilliant, of course you should kiss your sons!!

  21. My FIL came to visit 3 years ago; he hadn’t seen my hubby in 12 months & when we dropped him off at the airport for his flight home, he just stiffly shook hands. I so wanted to say ‘FFS, at least hug him, he’s your son’

    • What do you do, Alison? It’s a generational thing isn’t it? One of the real gifts writing the column/blog has given me is a much better understanding of my relationship with my Dad. Sadly my Dad died before I had children. Really regret that: he would have absolutely adored my daughter. Oh crap, I’m getting emotional…

  22. brillinat, keep on hugging and kissing your kids and tell them “I love you” as long as they like you to do so.

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