Why I Swear in Front of My Children
Swearing in front of children is not something I do for sport, but I don’t edit myself either.
Adults Can Swear
Over the holidays, I went out to dinner with a group of people my husband works with. There were around 8 couples at a long table in the banquet room of a local restaurant. Though I knew most people at dinner, I was seated at the end of the table with a group I didn’t know well. As it always goes, soon the men were talking shop and the women were trying to find common ground.
I was having more difficulty than usual connecting with one woman who I had just been introduced. I was really reaching to find a shared experience beyond our vaginas. I heard something out of the corner of my ear that offered a little explanation. Her husband mentioned to the guys that his wife had a visceral reaction to curse words; the f word made her flinch.
I wasn’t sure if I had offended her yet, but I probably would at some point since we had yet to place our drink order. As the evening progressed there was a lot of attention placed on this woman’s dislike of cursing. Her assertion made some uncomfortable. I didn’t really give a shit, I just knew she had picked the wrong dinner party to attend. I knew first hand this crowd could get pretty raunchy.
I Swear, My Kids Don’t
It’s not like I personally swear superfluously. I always have a good reason. Though my mouth can get me in trouble at times, I usually have enough sense to censor myself around those I don’t know, at PTA meetings and other people’s children.
Swearing in front of children I’ve given birth to, is a different story. All kids will hear curse words eventually. I believe they need to be taught what is acceptable and unacceptable language for children. If they hear from another source, chances are they will repeat before they are told it is inappropriate.
When my 5 year old son substituted the word nuts for testicles, I know he didn’t learn it at home. I probably bristled at this more than if he would have repeated one of my commonly used shit, piss or damns. Hearing curse words is not the same as permission to use them.
Early exposure to adult language doesn’t necessarily translate to having a teenager with a foul mouth either. Having a daughter in high school who communicates with her friends almost exclusively via text message and very monitored social media provides me an opportunity to see how she behaves when she thinks I’m not paying attention. Certainly it is only anecdotal and she does know I can check at any time, but she keeps it fairly clean. In contrast, some of the kids with parents who appear externally rigid, seem like they have taken Eminem, the language course, offered by Rosetta Stone.
When our evening ended, I realized I really had been on my best behavior because I wouldn’t purposefully offend anyone. It was also only 8:30 because it’s not very much fun to edit yourself in the presence of someone who has difficulty functioning in the real world. Though she never said if her parents swore in front of her, obviously she didn’t swear in front of her children. While it is my goal to raise courteous and respectful children too, I really hope they are the kind of people I’d want on my end of the table at a dinner party when they reach adulthood.
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