Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Muslim Saudi lecturer and author states the following:
The Islamic ruling on this matter is as follows: “Firstly: If the hugging and kissing is like that which takes place between husband and wife when they are alone, then it is not permissible in front of the children regardless of their age. Allah says, “O you who believe! Let your slaves and slave girls, and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask your permission (before they come to your presence) on three occasions: before Fajr (morning) prayer, and while you take off your clothes for the noonday (rest), and after the `Isha’ (night) prayer. (These) three times are of privacy for you; other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending to each other. Thus Allah makes clear the Ayat (The Verses of the Qur’an prove the legality of them visiting you with permission.) And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. And when the children among you attain puberty, then let them (also) ask for permission, as those senior to them (in age). Thus Allah makes clear His Ayat (Commandments and legal obligations) for you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (An-Nur: 58-59)
Ibn Katheer said, “In this case, servants and children are commanded not to intrude upon the adults of the household at these specified times, lest the man be in a position of intimacy with his wife and so on.”
If children are obliged to seek permission lest they see something of that which takes place between a husband and his wife, then what about doing such things openly and deliberately? Look at the etiquette that was observed within the household of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the delicate way in which the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) transmitted the details of his life.
The following was narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) concerning this issue,
It was narrated from Kurayb the freed slave of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas that `Abdullah ibn `Abbas told him that he stayed overnight with Maymunah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), who was his maternal aunt. He said, ‘I laid my head on the end of the pillow and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and his wife placed their heads on the side. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) slept until midnight, or shortly before or after, then he (peace and blessings be upon him) woke and started to rub the sleep from his eyes with his hands. After that he recited the last ten verses of Aal `Imran…’ (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said, ‘This indicates that it is permissible for a man to sleep alongside his wife without being intimate with her in the presence of one of her mahrams, even if he has reached the age of discretion.’ Al-Qadi said, ‘In some versions of this hadith it says, Ibn `Abbas said, ‘One time I stayed overnight with my maternal aunt when she was menstruating. Even though the isnad (chain of transmission) of this version is not sound, it contains a very interesting idea, because Ibn `Abbas would not have asked to stay overnight when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) may have wanted to be intimate with his wife, and his father would not have sent him there unless he knew that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would have no need of being intimate with his wife – because it is well known that he would not have been intimate with her when Ibn `Abbas was there sharing the same pillow with them and was watching to see what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did. He either slept only a little or he did not sleep at all.’ (Sharh Muslim)
In addition, doing such things openly is an action that is contrary to honor and decency.
Al-Maawardi said, ‘Honor and decency denote making sure that one’s deeds befit the circumstances so that they do not appear abhorrent or blameworthy.’ (Adab ad-Dunya wad-Deen, 392.)
It is sufficient to consider the negative effects that such behavior has on the upbringing of children. If parents consider this seriously it will stop them from behaving indecently in front of them, for children are created with the natural instinct to imitate whatever their parents do. It is possible that one of them might try to copy his parents out of ignorance, and this is indeed bad enough. Moreover, it is also likely that young children will talk to others about what they have seen, and this would obviously be a cause of embarrassment and perhaps jealousy.
Secondly: If the affection that is displayed between the husband and wife is the kind that is usually shown,
like, compassion, kindness and care, this would fill the house with peace, respect and happiness, especially on occasions such as `Eid etc, and that is permissible.
Showing this kind of affection will have a positive effect on the children’s peace of mind and will make them sense that there is mutual understanding and harmony within their family. There is nothing wrong with showing this kind of affection, but without exceeding the boundaries or doing anything that is forbidden.”