Do you remember your carefree childhood days?
I’m not one of Enid Blyton’s characters and I didn’t enjoy lashings of ginger beer but as much as you can enjoy an idyllic childhood on a Barnsley council estate, I did.
One of the reasons for that was a sense of community.
If I fell off my bike (which I did, often) there would be a member of the public who would pick me up and make sure I was OK.
If I was playing football with a friend I would go to their house (or vice versa) for lunch and nobody would bat an eyelid.
But as we know these days, our society is increasingly fragmented with people more worried than ever about protecting their children from the evils which we seem to believe are so prevalent in our society.
If you saw a child crying in the street, how many of you would go across to find out what was the matter?
What about a lost child in a shop? Would you take them by the hand and lead them to the tills to try and find a parent?
That contact is something that is disappearing in society.
More and more people are terrified to approach a child for fear of being deemed, at best, to be a bit weird or, at worst, to be some sort of predatory paedophile.
In this situation the last thing you need is someone chipping in with something else to worry you about.
But that’s happened and this time the focus isn’t on someone else trying to damage your children but the fact that they think you may be storing up problems with your kids due to the manner of the way you physically interact with them.
To be fair to the academic concerned, she made the comments five years ago but they have recently found traction again and gone viral once more on the internet.
Dr Charlotte Reznick, a child and educational psychologist at Californian university UCLA, gave a quote to mummy blog The Stir in 2010 when Harry Connick Jr was photographed kissing his eight-year-old daughter on the lips.
At the time she said: “If you start kissing your kids on the lips, when do you stop? It gets very confusing.”
She added: “As a child gets to four or five or six and their sexual awareness comes about (and some kids have an awareness earlier – they just discover their private parts and it feels good), the kiss on the lips can be stimulating to them.”
To be honest with you I’d never considered that when I kiss my little four-year-old boy on the lips and wish him a good night that I was somehow sending him a confused sexual message.
I suppose that is mainly because, in my opinion, it’s utter nonsense.
Not content with her theory so far Dr Reznick went on: “Even if that never occurs to a child, it’s just too confusing!
“If mommy kisses daddy on the mouth and vice versa, what does that mean when I, a little girl or boy, kiss my parent on the mouth?”
Maybe it means that they love you, like mum loves dad.
The act of kissing on the lips, while personal, is hardly intimate.
Trying to make a taboo out of something innocent – or making people doubt their own actions in showing love for their children – can only exacerbate a situation where people treat others with kid gloves.
I’m happy for my little boy to give his granny, cousins, and even our good friends a peck on the lips when he says goodbye or goodnight.
There’s absolutely nothing sexual in it.
Children are wonderful for many reasons – and one of them is that they don’t have the nuance or shades of grey us adults develop in order to successfully navigate our way through each day.
How many times have you laughed when a child has said something bluntly or pointed out a discrepancy in something?
We’re happy to accept one part of their none-nuanced black and white view of the world, but another is somehow damaging and will leave them feeling conflicted?
As my son would say: “That’s just rubbish daddy.”
Out of the mouths of babes ...