Cussing With Kids

swearing-294391_640Sneaking food.  Usually sugar.  Refusing the kids dessert, and when they are distracted, eating out of the ice cream tub while hiding  behind the fridge.  My 7 year old is on to me though, if I let him get to close, when he’ll ask alertly:  “why do you smell like chocolate?”  I usually give him some if I’m caught like this because if I’m too inept to mask a gorge then he’s not too young to share it.

Also, I swear.  Luckily, my husband swears more and unapologetically (“it’s a victim-less crime”), so I freely blame my babies’ cussing on him.  Yes, my babies cuss.  Yesterday I pulled down my youngest’s pants down to let him pee, but didn’t pull his pants away enough so he peed a little on his pants.  I had no spare pair, and anyway, if he’s going to pee in his pants, I want it to be his doing and not mine.

“Oh, shit!” said I.

“Oh, shit!” learned he.

He is not yet two.  I think this may be his fourth two-word sentence.

My older two swore as toddlers too.  And well, I might add.  “Damn” and “hell” are for the weak-kneed; I’m not referring to such sissy swearing here.  No, my kids were heavy hitters,  and when they let those cuss bombs fly, I’d observe, with a little pride, that “fuck” was always properly conjugated.

Their swearing peaked at two and three years old.  Now at 7 and 4, they’ve matured, and don’t really swear anymore because they know it’s inappropriate.  Even the utterance of “stupid” will often be followed by a quick apology.  And when I drop the full dustpan or bang my hip against the counter, they’ll give me a moment before evenly telling me, “Don’t say the F word, Mom.”

But I do. I will. Properly conjugated.

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17 thoughts on “Cussing With Kids

  1. Parents should act as a good role model. That’s what my parents always told me. We grew up in a household where cursing is not allowed. And i am glad my parents had that rule in the house. I’m not judging you. We’re not perfect. We can say a curse or two out of anger or even happiness. We cannot stop our children from cussing because eventually they will learn it from there peers. But at least the cursing wasn’t thought by the parents.

    • The reason my kids utter a quick sorry after saying something like “stupid” is because on the whole we’re very careful with words here – in terms of what they mean and how they can hurt like fists can – in that sense I think we set quite a high standard at home. But I’m not above an expletive when I smash my head getting into the car door, and I doubt that will change, even after the boys leave home…

      • I tried not to swear when my kids were little, and if it came out, and they repeated it, I had to stifle a laugh, until I got somewhere out of earshot, and had a good belly laugh from it. Sometimes I couldn’t help myself and laugh out loud. But most of the time we tried to use euphamisms. One time my husband did something and yelled out Jesus Christ! Instead of swearing ( I apologize if I offend any church goers here, it wasn’t our habit of using that word either, it was I think to avoid swearing infront of the kids) Anyway, after he said that, our daughter who was about 4 or 5 then said in a rather stern voice, DADDY! WHAT DID YOU SAY? He quickly turned and said CHEESE N RICE!!!! So that became our new acronym. We were happy with this, it wasn’t swearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain either. And she of course would stand there with one eyebrow cocked, and her hands on her hips with that in your face attitude….I thought to myself. Great, we have a Drama Queen on our hands. lol You have to laugh though when you’re around children, you never know what’s gonna happen next. I feel bad for people who either cannot have children, or choose not to. I respect their decision if they choose not to of course, but if they only knew what a sheer joy children really are. Swearing/cussing is just a part of growing up, and if it’s not you that’s doing it, they’re going to hear it from other sources, it’s unavoidable. My daughter who is now 20, cusses quite a bit, I can’t say much cause she’s an adult, the only thing I ask is that she doesn’t use the F bomb in front of her brother. Though he’s 18, he’s also autistic, and he won’t know that it’s not a very nice word, and other choice words that can get you in a lot of hot water are not even mentioned when he is at home. Or away from home for that matter. I love your post though, I love to read stories about children who have cussed and how their parents/caretakers handle the situation. Good for you. 🙂

    • Yes, parents should act as good role models but you know what we are human before we are parents. To be a good parent it’s not about if you swear or not — it’s if you have the ability yo accept responsibility and the humility to apologize and admit when you’re wrong.

      There are many parents who utter nary a curse word who’s children grow up unloved.

      I lived in a house where yes there were colorful metaphors- in fact there was a lot of color, words and above all love. We grew up well rounded.

  2. I’m australian, and I grew up with parents that swore. My language will make sailors blush, and I find that even my parents are a little put off my it. But honestly – they are only words.

    • If there was such a thing as “only words,” then verbal abuse would have no effect. And no one would bother making laws prohibiting libel. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prvb 12:18).

      • Fair point. But as far as I am concerned, kicking your toe and screaming fuck isn’t going to kill anyone, is it? From reading this post, I didn’t see anything about swearing and verbal abuse. I saw statements referring to casual swearing. So, keeping it in context, my swearing doesn’t hurt anyone.

      • Just want to be clear: bad language IS a problem I have. Which is probably why I’m commenting on it–a struggle near and dear. I’m not sitting here thinking, “Hey I don’t do this stuff, so it should be easy for everyone else.”

        As far as the harm goes… I find that the habits we form are what kick in when we’re stressed. And if I’m stressed because of something my 3.5yo daughter is doing, then my habit of screaming obscenities kicks in; and, even though they aren’t directed at her, she can’t tell the difference. It’s not killing her, but my thoughtlessness for how my words affect her does cause her distress.

        Just something to think about. I didn’t think about it much until I had small sensitive kids.

      • With verbal abuse it’s not the words chosen, but the intention behind them that is violent and offensive. I could string together a litany of swear words after hitting my thumb with a hammer and do no harm, but the statement “you are useless and good for nothing” is full of harmless words that would hurt someone for sure. Don’t make liken swearing to verbal abuse. They are not inherently the same.

      • Both verbal abuse and cursing demonstrate the inherent power of words. A string of curse words DOES harm those both speaker and hearer. It shows what is in the heart of the speaker, which does not include respect for those who can hear or self control. If I let that be my go to exclamation for something like physical pain, then that habit will kick in for other things as well. And when it’s my kids irritating me past my limit, will I have fostered another habit in myself that I can turn to in a time of crisis? Because habit will take over whether I like it or not.

      • How? How does it harm anyone? Words only have the power WE give them. Who decided what words are bad and what words are good? How does it hurt someone or myself if I shout “shit” instead of “crap” or “pickle”? The intention is the energy that is carried, not the organization of sounds. The idea that someone decided that a word is a curse is RIDICULOUS. The only bad words I know of are ones intended to hurt.

    • Yanniesaurus, you read my post the way I intended it to be – it’s about casual and occasional cussing which I consider not ideal but basically harmless. My swearing is never directed at my kids, and I swear less because of them. I am careful about what I say to my children generally and how I say it, because I believe wholeheartedly that words are powerful and can both heal and harm. But that’s not what I was thinking about when writing this post, so it’s interesting to see a deeper discussion about language with sourdoughkaty. Thank you both for commenting.

    • I’m a New Zealander and I also grew up with parents who swore. When I went away for University my language would improve while away but get worse when I went home for the holidays. Swearing was just part of everyday life so upset no one. But then again we swore at things and mistakes never at people, we were in big trouble if we called people names.
      Words only have the power that we give them.

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