I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a friend clap their hand over their mouth and apologize after letting a swear escape in front of my kids. I always laugh and tell them I don’t care. Because I really don’t. I think the whole idea of teaching your kids not to swear is ridiculous. People swear. Parents swear, grandparents swear and teenagers, well, they do for swearing what Nutella did for hazelnuts. (Well, until they got themselves sued.) So why on earth should we invent some tiny little life stage from the age of 2 to 12 when swearing is not permitted?! That is what some might call bullshit.
Obviously, there are places to swear and places not to swear. The behaviour, like most others, is context specific. I myself am not a huge swearer but I do love language and sometimes, there is nothing better than a few salty words thrown in for emphasis. Swear words are a tool and our job as parents is to teach our kids how to use them.
I admit that there are challenges in this approach and that I will probably get a call from the school at some point. But I will take that any day over introducing a rule into our household that everyone, including the child, knows is a load of baloney. It diminishes my authenticity, it stifles conversation about creative expression and it makes me way less cool. (Okay, I know I’m not cool in my kid’s eyes but let a girl dream for a while.)
I remember my Mom telling me when I was a teenager that swearing wasn’t a good idea. When I asked her why she told me that as a woman I was going to have a hard time being heard in life. And that swearing just gives people another excuse not to listen to what you are saying. That really resonated with me. I will help my kids learn how to use language in the most effective way possible and if that means dropping an f-bomb, so be it.
“Mom, when you drop something like water you say “Dammit!” but if you drop something big like the whole milk jug you say “Shit!” right?”
Goddamnit, I think she’s got it.