Tuesday March 21 2017

Showing affection in front of children

Margret Tumusiime, a counsellor, says just as

Margret Tumusiime, a counsellor, says just as the adults get uncomfortable when people are getting intimate in their presence, so do children 

By Sarah Aanyu

The other day I went to visit friends and I was almost blushing. It was obvious that the two lovebirds were crazy about each other but I guess I did not see it coming when the man leaned over and pecked his wife. I guess I must have frowned because she hurriedly explained to me. “I was used to being pecked or even kissed by my husband before he leaves for work and that was our routine before we had our first child,” she shared.
She says when their son grew older, they found it quite weird to kiss in his presence, so their affection was restricted to a peck.
“There is a time my husband had just finished pecking me and my son asked him why he never does the same to him, we had to get an excuse for that moment then he decided to also start pecking him before leaving home. It is the same with the other child,” she says.

She advises parents to know the limits when it comes to being intimate in the presence of your children. Children imitate adults but if they really feel the need to, then they should find a neutral act that can be done in the presence of children.
“We are being eroded by the western culture and most of us feel we should at least adopt a thing or two forgetting that what we may presume as an innocent act may be viewed differently by others,” says Rosemary Katengeke a counsellor and teacher at Pearl Africa School, Kabalagala.

“To some parents, a child pecking another is innocent but another parent will say that that is how immorality begins in children and before the parent realise it, the children will be kissing one another and thinking it is normal,” adds Katengeke.
Irene Kayiwa, a stay-at-home mother, is opposed to parents getting intimate in the presence of her children because to her, morality comes first.
Kayiwa says she once had to tell off her cousin and boyfriend who were kissing in the presence of her four-year-old daughter. They thought it was dark and she could not see them but clearly the child was looking at them.
“These children are young but inquisitive because my daughter kept on asking me what her aunt and boyfriend were doing. That is when I looked for an excuse to make her forget the whole incident,” says Kayiwa.
People need to know their limits and it is from there that a child will uphold the respect they have for that specific person and hold them as their role models.

The counsellor’s take

Margret Tumusiime, a counsellor, says just as the adults get uncomfortable when people are getting intimate in their presence, so do children.
“Parents need to consider the child’s feeling and get to know that a child too needs respect and in this respect means they should look for appropriate places to get intimate with their partners,” says Tumusiime.
Parents need to know that children pick cues and are willing to experiment what they see. Taking precaution and not corrupting you child’s mind should be more important than a parent satisfying his or her relationship needs.
“You have heard of stories where some parents stop their children from associating with others because they fear compromising their children’s behaviours…this is one of the causes,” she says.

Ali Male, a psychologist at YWCA, says it does not matter if it is your biological child and they know that you are adults, the child may pretend not to have noticed what you have done but will speak about it with other people or children, so people will base on that to judge your child yet it is entirely the parents’ fault.
“The most important thing parents should do is to sit down the child in case they realise that she or he has knowledge on intimacy, it does not matter where they saw it from because even TVs are acting as illustrators to the child,” says Male.
From the benefits of setting a good example for a healthy, loving relationship to examples of appropriate public display of affection when your children are around, you need to know ultimately when not to cross the line.