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Tom Brady kisses his 11-year-old son, Jack, in 'Tom Vs. Time.' (Facebook)

Kiss cam

Tom Brady kisses his son, ignites debate about parental affection and traditional masculinity

By WITW Staff on February 2, 2018

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has found himself at the center of a second controversy involving one of his children this week — as he prepares to play in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Sunday. The latest controversy stems from an episode of his Facebook Watch series Tom vs. Time. In the third episode, Brady is seen giving his 11-year-old son, Jack, a kiss. Earlier this week, Brady called into a radio station to confront broadcasters over a host who had disparaged his 5-year-old daughter.

First, watch the kiss in the clip below — and then we’ll discuss.

Viewers reacted strongly to the footage, with some pointing out that Brady was shirtless at the time of the kiss, and lying on his back receiving a massage. Others criticized the length of the kiss and the nature of it, saying it made them feel “uncomfortable.”

“Too long, like romantic long,” Parrish Watson told CBS New York. Several people on the street that CBS New York talked too echoed that sentiment.

Even experts were divided over it.

One parenting expert and the CEO of DivaMoms.com, Lyss Stern, said she saw nothing wrong with the kiss, and cautioned about parent shaming. “If you kiss your kids too much, it’s the wrong thing. If you kiss your kids too little, it’s the wrong thing. If you hug too much — people need to back off and stop parent shaming.”

Still others thought that Brady, demanding a kiss from his son in order to be able to check his fantasy football stats, is sending his child the wrong message about what’s an appropriate use of physical touch. “I don’t think affection should ever be tied in with a favor,” Carolyn Meyer-Wartels, a parenting expert and social worker, told CBS New York. “You don’t do anything with your body because someone else is insisting that you do it in order for you to get what you want,” she said, adding that advice goes for parents, too.

Brady is not the first celebrity parent to come under scrutiny for the affection show to a young child. Last October, Olivia Wilde stirred up debate when she posted a photo on social media showing herself kissing her 3-year-old son on the lips. Some criticized the photo as “gross,” but an overwhelming number of people perceived the moment as a sweet exchange between a mother and son.

But a similar exchange between a father and son seems to have struck a more sensitive chord. Why?

Tom Brady celebrates with his son, Jack, after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime to win Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

As Boston Globe columnist Nick Osborne pointed out, Brady’s show of affection toward his son may be upending the expectations of traditional masculinity. Osborne wrote that traditional masculinity is a “paradigm that shared male affection is suspect at best, and creepy at worst. The vacuum of decent, kind male role models means that young men grow up detached, out of touch with their body and with their families.”

Osborne continued, “Man-to-man communication itself relies on ossified, uncomfortable limits. Be careful you don’t go too far, young boys are reminded. Angry, abusive fathers are a cultural norm, alongside neglectful, absent ones.” Plus, Brady’s public show of affection for his son may be unorthodox for many who see it, but wholly normal for him — a tenderness passed down from his father. As Osborne notes, Brady was mocked when news cameras caught him kissing his father on the lips last year after leading the Patriots to the biggest comeback win in Super Bowl history.

Now that you’ve seen the video of the kiss and heard the arguments on both sides, what do you think?

Read the full story at The Boston Globe and CBS New York

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