Photo by Matt Slocum/AP Photo
The field at University of Phoenix stadium was a sea of hugs and kisses Sunday night after the New England Patriots pulled off an incredible victory over the Seattle Seahawks. But one of those kisses has created quite a stir.
In the photo, 62-year-old Patriots coach Bill Belichick is kissing his 30-year-old daughter Amanda, and of course the Twitter response came fast and furious. “I hate the Seahawks even more for giving that game away because it prompted Belichick making out with his daughter,” wrote @matty_bandziel. “Take a guess. Is this Bill Belichick’s wife or daughter? (HINT: It’s his daughter, and he’s a creep),” wrote @mflynn32.
But others lauded the photo as a lovely display of family affection. “So sweet!” wrote @hicksheidi1. And @sophiamckeone writes, “Omg Bill Belichick obviously just pecked his daughter and that was a bad picture.”
The photo is sparking a conversation about whether or not the kiss was inappropriate, but experts agree that the social media firestorm is likely tainting a lovely moment. “I think this is a reach for scandal,” parenting expert and family physician Dr. Deborah Gilboa tells Yahoo Parenting. “Being able to show affection between adult parents and their adult kids is lovely, and it’s great if Bill Belichick has such a positive relationship with his daughter.”
Family therapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer agrees. “This was a moment of jubilation and joy and he is showing his affection for someone who is clearly very important to him,” Hokemeyer tells Yahoo Parenting. “It’s important that parents keep and maintain boundaries with their children, certainly, but in terms of expressing affection this feels within the realm of normal.”
Hokemeyer says kisses on the lips between adult parents and children are the norm in many cultures, and he suggests that in the U.S., it’s usually broken down by socio-economic lines. “People who are in the upper class are typically more reserved and kiss on the cheek or hug or shake hands,” he says. “They are not as demonstrative.”
Some famous names are defending the photo, too. “Every time I saw my dad later in life I would meet him at the airport and he would kiss me on the lips,” Matt Lauer said on The Today Show Tuesday morning. “Every single time.”
Both Hokemeyer and Gilboa agree that a smooch between family, no matter how old, is nothing to get worked up about as long as they have healthy boundaries and relationships. “Let’s keep this in the context of their history and relationship, the event, and the joyous celebration,” Dr. Hokemeyer says. “It was an emotional moment – and this is one quick snapshot.”