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Swearing around Kids
My husband and I am are potty mouths. We use swear words as
adjectives (rather than explictatives) and hadn't given it much
thought... until now. Our 3-year old heard me say the S word
the other day at the park when I caught one of my twins climbing
up something she couldn't possibly climb and I ran over to save
her. My son thought it was hilarious and laughed and laughed
about it, repeating the word over and over. That night we had a
nice discussion about ''bad'' words and how it was wrong of mommy
to say that word. My husband and I continued the conversation
after the kids were alseep. My husband thinks that we should
simply tell the kids not to ever, ever use bad words. I think,
because we use them, that it would hypocritcal to do that and we
should tell them that it's not okay to say those words to other
people, but in our house it's ok. My husband thinks that's too
nuanced for a 3-year old, let alone the 17 month olds and it
would be easier to simply have a zero tolerance rule.
So...my questions is: If you have anything more than a zero
tolerance rule about swearing in your household, can you let me
know what worked for your family? THANKS!
We don't say: ''This is a bad word, you should *never* use it.'' We don't like that approach because it feels hypocritical, it heightens the weight of these words in an inappropriate way, and we aren't so into the whole bad/good thing. What is a ''bad word'', anyhow? We think its better to say ''this word could hurt someone's feelings''. That is something our son understands, and is motivating to him. It is also an accurate description of how profanity can be used, and is often viewed.
We also don't say: ''This word is ok in our house, but not outside.'' We don't like that approach bcs its too confusing, and bcs, honestly, I don't enjoy hearing my son swearing either. Plus, we as thoughtful adults don't even always make the right call on when its ok (e.g., have you ever thrown an F-bomb at work and thought, ''wow, shouldn't have said that''?) Seems unrealistic to think a 4 year old could figure this one out.
Note, on Wallace and Gromit a robot says 'Oh, knickers''. Our son saw this, and then he and his cousins kept saying ''knickers, knickers, knickers''. Hearing it, we realized that the word could be mistaken for the ''n'' word. We told him this word sounded a lot like a word that could really hurt someone's feelings, and so we didn't want to hear him say it again. And we were actually pretty stern about that. Told him he could say ''underwear'' or ''skivvies'' or something else (that's what knickers are), but that he could not say knickers. Some words have the potential to really hurt someone's feelings. I think 4 year olds get that. reforming sailor
We explained to our children that while it was fine to use those words at home, some people would be very very upset and that they should not say them in certain circumstances (daycare was the big one). And you know what? It worked! Kids are able to make those kind of distinctions quite easily. Think about it - daycare probably has different rules than home does about lots of things. To a child, language is just one more thing. So I guess we took your tack, and it has worked out fine. mother of 2 schoolage kids who are NOT pottymouths
With my girls I explain that there are thousands of words to describe things and smart people do not use curse words to do so. I explain that they will get in trouble for using these words at school and with certain adult sitter. No one wants to get into trouble, but now they get a sense of what's acceptable in polite society and what will get you sent to the principal's office.
They now laugh when they hear me (Cause Mommy's not using smart words), but do not repeat. There have literally been only two occasions, 1 per child, that I have heard them curse. I figure it was better to give REAL world lessons right up front. It's working for me, but as one friend (mother of three boys) pointed out, boys are different from girls. hg
Ultimately, I'd say curb your mouth, don't allow your kids to swear and explain to them why. It's rude, it does not allow us to reach the fullness of our language, rather using cuss words to fill in the blanks rather than being articulate and truly use our words to their fullest capacity. -- rather not be swearing
WTF = What the F#@*. A fav expression to this day between my youngest and I. She is 24 and living outa state in school. My other daughter is 28 and we seem to lack a fav expression but do not hesitate in the use of colorful language to express ourselves.
I am smiling and amused by my memories of swearing with the children, the children swearing at me, and efforts to teach them the places to and not to use this language.
I was raised in a working class home where my mom used such language. My wife was raised in a upper class home where such language was never heard. So we instructed the children that there were different rules in each grandmom’s home. This included language. I do not remember the ages and hows of all this, I just know that they learned it. And they learned that this apply in the community, homes of friends, school, etc.
One of my fav exercises was to declare “Swear Ins” They were scheduled and agreed upon by all involved. It became a fun time to let go. It could occur in the car driving or when at home, but not with others. My daughters delight in the telling of this family exercise. Calling each other names was not ok, but this did not stop one daughter calling me a d*&% head in public when she was really pissed at me.
As to the the disagreement between you and hubby on this matter. Don’t know what to say. Oh f@#$ it, agree to disagree.
Smiling – thanks for asking
Colorful Speaking Daddy
This is what we do and it works perfectly:
Certain words are considered ''grownup words''. Using them is one of the many. many things that I am allowed to do that my kids are not--like driving, staying up late, etc etc. I don't feel hypocritical about this at all, and the kids are 100% fine with it. I have never, not once, had to tell them not to use those words once we identified them as grownup words. And I don't allow visiting kids to use them either--I simply say ''In our house those are words that only grownups use, kids don't use them.'' Same thing--never had an issue after that.
I realize this might not work for every kid, but it certainly works for mine. Adults can swear, kids can't
My husband swears like a sailor and also swears he can't stop. I have been known to let the f-bomb fly on occasion myself, though not as frequently as he does.
My kids are becoming aware that these are bad words, though it's cute - they lump them in with other bad words, such as ''stupid.'' They will come tell on Dad when he's letting them rip, (usually when he's trying to fix something.) ''Mom, Dad said f---ing!''
I've let them know these are not good words for kids to say, and that we grownups shouldn't say them either. I have told them to say ''BOO!'' to Mom or Dad when we slip up. They delight in doing that. It lightens the mood too.
That being said, my son dropped one of his toys this morning and said the s-word. I chose to ignore it. I don't want to reinforce it, you know?
I'm looking forward to what other people have to say. I'm sure I could use more advice myself.
By the way, my dad was a notorious unconcsious swearer (''I don't want any g--d--- swearing in my house,'' he said) and my siblings and I seem to have turned out OK. No prison time so far. :) oops I f'n did it again
But, to respond to the person who only curses in German, a word of caution. I am Cajun and my dad and grandparents only spoke Cajun French when angry, saying something we shouldn't hear, or when they cursed. As a result, I thought all old people were angry and spoke in a different language and all I retained from my Cajun language roots were the cuss words and phrases! They are somewhat useful, but it's sad that that's all I got out of a dying folk language. cussin cajun
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