It was meant to be an innocent birthday photograph, but a pic of Victoria Beckham kissing her five-year-old daughter on the lips has sparked a global parenting debate …

Victoria shared the photo showing her and Harper in a swimming pool on Instagram with a caption that read: “Happy Birthday baby girl. We all love you so much, kisses from mummy”.

Parents have now accused Victoria of ‘sexualising’ her daughter

Kissing adults on the lips has been described in one newspaper article (that condemned Victoria’s kiss as creepy), as “the gateway to intimacy”, with the author saying that she would be horrified if her husband kissed their children on the lips.

Supporters of the Victoria/Harper kiss have said that it is completely normal for parents to kiss their children on the lips and if this is the way that families choose to express affection, then who are we to judge?

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I saw nothing wrong with the pic, and thought it was a sweet mommy/daughter moment. Until I tested it on my own daughter …

I have always been an on-the-mouth kisser. That’s what we do in our family, and what I continued to do to relatives, after I got married.

It was my husband who told me that my kissing his uncles on the lips was a bit strange – and he would prefer that I offered my cheek instead. Being a fervent asserter of my independence (and independent thought), I told him that he was being ridiculous and it was my choice to do what I felt comfortable doing.

Victoria main

But my 14-year-old daughter feels differently, apparently

She was never a lip kisser (except to her parents). Although she’s keen to be kissed by the cute body boarder at the beach, she has never allowed male relatives (besides her daddy) to kiss her on the lips.

But since she turned 14 in April this year, I, too, have gradually been offered the cheek when I try to kiss her. She prefers her dad to kiss her on the forehead too.

At first I was really hurt: this is my baby girl, who used to lie naked on my chest in the bath, and who still bathed with her dad until she was about 12. Why the sudden issue with an innocent kiss on the lips?

But the debate around the Victoria/Harper kiss has me thinking …

Perhaps we should do what makes our children comfortable, and stop when they start feeling weird about it.

If your child is happy to plant wet, sloppy kisses on your moth, enjoy it while it lasts: I refuse to believe that this means we are “sexualising” our children.

But when they no longer want to, then respect their feelings. As long as you remain close to them – and they allow hugs or kisses on the cheek (my daughter tells me she is more of a “hug” person), then you can both feel loved – and respected.

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