Being affectionate with your partner is really good for your children
Whenever my husband and I have a little smooch or embrace (we are newlyweds, after all!), our two-year-old will rush over and wedge his way in between us to be in on all the love.
And while it then and there is just a sweet little snap-shot of family life, I was also delighted to read that catching us stealing a sneaky smooch might also do wonders for our children's health.
Meaning, all of us parents who can't seem to keep our hands off each other; a little good old PDA isn't going to harm the kids. Hell, it might even benefit them.
A team of researchers from Wayne State University recently surveyed 80 kids—admittedly not a huge sample—aged 10 to 17, who all have asthma and live with a parent who is either married or in a long-term relationship. The kids kept diaries for four days documenting their asthma symptoms and their moods. They also recorded the behavior they observed between their parents—things like "My mom and dad kissed today" or "Today they got in a fight."
Unlike other studies that have found kids’ health to suffer when parents fight, the interesting thing about this study is that subjects here didn’t feel sicker when their parents fought. But kids who saw signs of affection between their parents reported a reduction in asthma symptoms and better lung function.
“Parents should be aware that children respond emotionally not only to the direct interactions they have with their parents, but also to . . . interactions their parents have between each other,” said co-author Samuele Zilioli, a post-doctoral fellow at Wayne State University in a press statement. “In turn, these children’s emotional responses can affect their health.
And while the data here only covered four days, it is worth remembering that adult relationships can look very different from a child’s perspective. To a parent, a “happy marriage” might mean fairly shared responsibilities, meaningful conversation, and private intimacy. To kids, it means outward displays like hugs, kisses, and verbal endearments.
The study authors pointed out that it is not seeing their parents have an argument that is most distressing to kids, it is the not knowing if they have made up again.