Opinion | Nick Osborne

Tom Brady has people debating: Is it OK to kiss your kids on the lips?

Tom Brady with his son after the Patriots won Super Bowl LI.
Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff/File 2017
Tom Brady with his son after the Patriots won Super Bowl LI.

Tom Brady’s latest transgression? Affection.

In a scene from Episode 3 of “Tom vs. Time,” the Patriots quarterback got a kiss on the lips not once but twice from his young son. The second of the two lingered just a bit too much for some viewers. “Kiss controversy,” declared the CBS New York chyron. “Too long,” griped a New Yorker interviewed in the segment.

To hear a few of the reactions, the Brady moment was on par with SNL’s “Kissing Family” sketch, in which Paul Rudd brings Vanessa Bayer home for Christmas and proceeds to excessively smooch his relatives. Raspberries are blown. Every family member gets in on the exaggerated, awkward action.


And so, another brief moment is taken out of context and spun into controversy. Showing a 30-second clip of Brady shirtless, in mid-massage, could well increase the cringe level of a father-son kiss for viewers. That is, if you ignore multiple other scenes of Brady shirtless, working out, and getting massages, in the same episode.

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This isn’t the first time Brady has come under fire for his affectionate ways. After winning the Super Bowl last year, Brady landed a smoocheroo on both of his parents’ lips — and was subsequently widely mocked.

The kisses should be also considered within the Brady family dynamic. Episode 4 of the same series gets into the quarterback’s family life. Brady tussles with his son; they share hugs and travel the world. And Brady talks about getting to spend time with his kids, who are growing up all the while as his career marches onward. Of course it’s definitely easier to work around career barriers when you’re fabulously wealthy, but at least the stress of trying to make time for your family is something relatable.

Seeing young Tom in Episode 4 with his mom and dad, who clearly loved their son, is a refreshing reminder of how parental support and encouragement can help their kids succeed. Photos of Brady’s dorky outfits as a kid are followed by Tom flanked by his beaming parents. They plainly love each other. And yeah, they have kissed one another.

The throughline from Brady’s parents to his children is highlighted in one Episode 4 moment: “You know, like how your kids are fragile? Well, your parents reach a certain point in their life when you see more of a fragility in them. Now it’s your turn to support their emotions and their needs.”


What human wouldn’t fervently want to share love and affection with the fragile, all-too-mortal loved ones around us? Even if one is not making a documentary about one’s own race against time, the fleeting moments that we share are already too closed off by stress and pain to waste them.

Many folks are fine with the toxic masculinity 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. 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.

To be clear: a multimillionaire like Brady, building a media and fitness empire for his post-football career, deserves scrutiny and criticism. But father-son affection? Come on.

Follow Nick Osborne on Twitter @nxosborne.