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Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, brother to nine, and thoroughly but barely educated on the street, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. He lives with his son in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Should we really call them “bad words” to our kids?

By Dan Pearce |

As Noah is getting older, he’s starting to learn that there are certain words in the English language that he’s gonna get a lecture about when and if he says them. I’ll let you use your imagination as to what those words are.

Some people call them “bad words.” And I have to wonder, is that really something healthy to teach our children? That some words are “bad?”

I for one, try not to swear too much, but sometimes I enjoy saying almost every word that I would tell my son is a “bad word.” I like to put them into my writing sometimes to emphasize certain emotions or points; I like to use them to be funny during certain conversations and with the right people; And, as much as I’m working on it, there are times when they just slip out when I least expect it. Like when I see a cop’s red and blues glaring in my rearview mirror.

I used to be married to his mom, and I know for a fact that she occasionally uses some of the “bad words,” too. And, I’m 99% positive his stepdad uses the “bad words” sometimes as well. I know his grandparents do. I know some of his aunts and uncles do. In fact, there are very few adults I know who never say “bad words.” Most of them, if anything, enjoy a good cuss word here and there. I think it’s part of our human nature… to rebel against the norm when it won’t hurt anybody.

So if most of the grown-ups use “bad words,” what does that teach my kid? As he himself grows up, he’s going to hear a lot of the people he loves use a lot of the words that he has been told his entire life are bad.

Now, I’m no Einstein, but I’m pretty sure that when you teach a child that something is “bad” and they see you doing it, they will then naturally think you are “bad” for doing it. And, due to the rate of “bad words” that will be slipping out of Noah’s parent’s and his grandparent’s and his aunt’s and uncle’s and everybody else’s mouths, he’s gonna think he has a pretty damn bad family. Pardon my French.

When he gets older, he’s gonna think his friends are “bad” as they experiment and push their boundaries. He’s gonna think his siblings are “bad.” And, he’s gonna think he himself is “bad” when and if he decides that he wants to try those words out for himself.

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Dan Pearce

Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. Read bio and latest posts → Read Dan's latest posts →

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96 thoughts on “Should we really call them “bad words” to our kids?

  1. Amy B. says:

    As a writer and linguist, I don’t believe that any words are “bad” or off-limits. People can use whatever words they like, but they might also have to pay some dire consequences for the words they choose. I simply tell my kids not that words are bad, but that they are inappropriate, and I explain why.

  2. laura says:

    We actually call them grown up words. But then again, as a teacher I also emphasize that words are powerful and that choosing some words over others can be more powerful or make you appear to be more/less intelligent. I am a fabulous cusser. I try not to around my kids but they know that repeating them if I do say them will get them in trouble at this point in their young lives.
    They aren’t necessarily “bad” words but more like “bad choice” words.

  3. Alan says:

    Yes. There are bad words. I don’t want my kid dropping the F bomb.

  4. Kelly says:

    We call them swear words, and my husband can’t talk withiut them. So our five year old has been given permission to use them at home. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but he has never slipped, and he uses them mostly for humor but sometimes to express his feelings.

  5. Gabriel says:

    I actually take it a step further; I don’t think we’re responsible for other people’s emotional reaction to my words. Words mean different things to different people, based on their experience. As you said in the article, your son has been told that “heck” and “bum” are bad words too. WTF?!? I for one, support your crusade, Dan. Let’s free this worlds from the tyranny of words, once and for all!

  6. becky says:

    Granted that I don’t have kids…yet, however I do think that it would be a better idea to look at those words as adult words instead of bad words. I grew up in a house where even the word stinks was a “bad word”, so now as an adult I feel bad saying them though I will add that they are a good stress relieved at times.
    I will keep this in mind when I have kids, to make sure that I teach them that they are grown up words and not bad words.

  7. Sarah says:

    I know when that happened to me I didn’t think my folks were bad for saying ‘bad words’. I just thought that they were liars for telling me something that they did was bad, which certainly didn’t improve my opinion of them.

  8. Jina says:

    I don’t really call them “bad” words either, but then I am also a teacher. I also highlight the bad choices bit. What I do more is try to teach my kids and students to use polite words (literally I say “use polite words please”) and a polite tone of voice. This came about a few years back when every child in my class was using what I now call SpongeBob cussing. Replace any of your adult words with “barnacles” or “tarter sauce” and see how long it remains funny. After a couple months straight, I couldn’t take it anymore. I outlawed SpongeBob cussing and told the children that no the words are not bad or inappropriate by themselves, it is the way they are using them that is intolerable. So now we stress the polite words and polite tone of voice. It works.

  9. Jackie says:

    Interesting post… I am a professional writer and have two young children. I never teach than that there are “bad” words, because I do not believe there are any. Every word serves a purpose and has a time or place. What I teach them is about the appropriateness of when it is okay to use certain words and about using it in the right context. They know they are not allowed to say certain words at school, for example, or they may get in trouble there. Yet at home it is fine at times. It is more about how they use them for me…

  10. Tiffany says:

    As a teacher I am amazed by what the kids consider to be “bad” words. Just as you said words like sick, bum, dang, darn, and shoot are some of the every day words that they think are bad. Gosh is another one. And they make such a huge deal out of it. I believe if they were taught that there are grown-up words and not bad words they wouldn’t make such a big deal about it when they do hear an inappropriate word at school or elsewhere.

  11. Robyn Guillory says:

    I tend to agree with George Carlin on this one. He said, “There are no bad words. Just bad intentions.” The words themselves are just words, neither good nor bad. I do agree that certain words are inappropriate except in certain situations. Like you, I will give my son a talking-to if I hear him using those inappropriate words. I don’t like to call them “bad” though. I wouldn’t call them “grownup” either, because I would prefer that even grownups not use them. It happens sometimes though–no one is perfect–and I don’t want my son to think he is bad if he slips up when he is older.

  12. Debbie Sams says:

    I think the idea of “bad” words should be age appropriate. What little toddler has never heard or learned what “bad” is? But, do they know what “offensive” is? Once they are old enough to understand you can explain further how some words are hurtful or not polite. I grew up thinking all “those” words were bad and nobody in my family yet today curses. lol…It’s really frowned upon although I have been known to do it elsewhere. I never thought other people were bad for cursing just that they had poor manners. It was right about on the same level as chewing with your mouth open. Maybe you could consider teaching him that those words are only to be said in certain company that he knows would not be offended-such as family that he hears it from already, but that he’s not old enough to do that yet.

  13. Sarah Van Dyke says:

    There is a difference between a person saying something bad or a “bad word” and making that person “bad”. A word or action is bad not to confuse it with the person saying it as a bad person. You correct your children when they do something “bad” but that doesn’t mean they are bad. As for my thoughts on bad words, I use them when I’m angry. After I say them, I feel bad because I felt like I was being out of control with my mouth and setting a poor example for my kids. My kids are 12 and 15. I find my 15 year old cussing because I cuss and I find hearing her say bad words is disgusting. So I try to be more aware of what comes out of my mouth. My personal beliefs as a Christian also remind me not to cuss especially taking the Lord’s name in vain. The Bible says plenty about the mouth and what comes out of it…not just “bad” words. But of course I’m not perfect and sometimes I just say what the F***.

  14. Teresa says:

    I think you are doing the right thing. I mean really, the “bad words” are just words. The only thing that makes them bad are the people using them as a bad word. Although there are a few that I won’t even type because I think those derogatory words should not be said unless you are reading something etc. I even hate that music & tv has censors. Kids are going to hear the words no matter what. It’s up to the parents to teach their kids about the words, how to use them & when to use them. The more we shield our kids from these things, the more they will want to do/say them. Just teach them right from wrong.

  15. Jenny says:

    My son calls them bad words sometimes because other people have told him that but I explain to him that words aren’t bad, only the way they are used. I also refer to them sometimes as words that grown ups use. He often asks me about words and what they mean and ‘bad’ words are no different when he hears them for the first time. Just this weekend he heard a family member tell another to quit ‘bitching’ and he promptly turned to me and asked me what the word meant. I very calmly explained to him that it means complaining but it’s not a word little boys should use. There’s a particular song that I love by an independent artist that has a line about ‘F-ing things up’ and Isaiah asked me what it meant. I told him it means messing things up. He told me he doesn’t like hearing that word and now I mute the volume at that point in the song for him. I don’t want him to be sheltered and not hear words or to think he is bad if someday he chooses to use them (or hears me use them, lol).

  16. Danielle says:

    We call cuss words “grown up” words too. Our kids learn that there are a lot of things that grownups can do that they can’t, this is just one more. However, I do believe in “bad” words too, and those are banned at all times, grown up or child. Racial slurs, the “R” word, slurs about sexual orientation. None of those words are okay to me in any context, so they are “bad” in our house. You’re also more likely to get in trouble for calling someone stupid than for cussing in my house.

  17. Alan says:

    I’m sorry. Though your blog is interesting, it doesn’t automatically mean that when a kid hears a loved one say a “bad” word, that he/she will think that person is bad.

    The label “bad” might be debatable, but the reasoning behind labeling is sound. Children need to learn what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, including the words that are used. But it’s important to also teach children that if they do something that is “bad”, that doesn’t automatically make them “bad”. We all make mistakes. If we teach our children what we expect of them and set the right example, most of the time, then they will learn the proper values, or least the values that you and/or your family hold dear.

  18. Heather W. says:

    I was raised by a woman whose language could make sailors cry. :) I knew them as “words I shouldn’t use at school or in front of Grandma.” There was only 1 “bad word” (the c word) and the rest were all right as long as they were used appropriately and not gratuitously. Honestly, as a teenager I swore less than my friends who were raised being told they were bad words. With my daughter, who is 7, when she says one I just redirect her to a nicer word (“Oh *shoot*, honey) and tell her that some words are considered not nice and could hurt some people’s feelings when used. And to never use them at school because other kids could get in trouble if they repeat them. Since they don’t seem magical or mystical she doesn’t focus on them. At least so far :)

  19. Darlene Cunningham says:

    Calling them bad words actually encourages their use when a child is trying to rebel also. It’s kind of like Voldemort, fear of the word only strengthens it. I allow my children to use them in context. I don’t allow them to be used for hurtful things like name calling. I myself curse like a sailor, though, like you I am working on it.

  20. E! says:

    I understand the dissembling / double standards. However I find qualifying them as “grown up” words teaches another lesson: that being your best you is only a requirement as a child. Children are told not to curse and hit yet they see adults doing the very things they are told not to do; imo, it delivers the message that might makes right, with age comes a diminishment of morals, that being an adult is a *lesser thing. It is my personal opinion that if it is unsuitable actions for your child to see it is unsuitable for you to be performing in their presence. I have friends that curse like sailors YET they will blush in front of their parents when they curse which leads me to believe they know it inappropriate and have little respect or self-control. Perhaps its an utopian idealism but I am big on personal responsibility. That said it is for what I STRIVE and I do have moments of loss of self-control regarding language – few and far between but morally repugnant to me personally, it embarrasses me that I have allowed circumstance to lower me to less than my best self.

  21. JJinTX says:

    i dont call them bad words either, i say either adult words or ugly (more so “not nice”) words…

  22. John Dixon says:

    Words are tools, and like any tool, it is how one uses them which makes them “good” or “bad”. There is an appropriate time and place to use certain words, and teaching children when to and when not to use them is the key to their learning those times.

  23. Angela Besemer says:

    When my daughter was 4 and sitting in the front seat of the car (this was before carseats) her shoe dropped onto the running board. She exclaimed “oh dammit!” and then quickly looked at me in question as to whether she was in trouble or not. I wanted to laugh so hard but instead I told her that is probably the same thing I’d say if my shoe dropped off. I then explained that sometimes we say certain words when certain things happen but we had to be careful who we say it in front of because some people get offended when they hear these words. I told her to not say those words in front of her grandma, for example. She seemed to understand and never really had a desire to cuss (inappropriately) since.

  24. Sally says:

    I think kids only equate doing something “bad” to actually being a bad person during a certain developmental stage. Older kids know the difference. I remember as a kid thinking people who smoked cigarettes were bad because my mom told me cigarettes were bad. Then I grew up a little and could differentiate people from their actions.

  25. Erin says:

    I like Kelly allowed my 9-year-old to use the “bad” words at home, but only as long as she didn’t use them when we had company. She never really got in the habit of using them. When she was 11 she used to skip them when singing songs and I finally reminded her she could use the “bad” words as long as that were not used to be disrespectful, i.e. calling me a B**ch. She is allowed however to say I’m acting like a B**ch. By explaining the difference between disrespect and not making them taboo, they are not really a big deal to her and she seldom, if ever uses them.

  26. Autumn says:

    I think the real bad words are one like stupid, retard, loser and I would much rather hear my 4yo drop an f bomb than hear the word retard come out of her mouth.

  27. kelly says:

    I dont tell my kids that they are ”bad” words. I tell them that they are grownup words. I dont hide it from my children because they are gonna hear it somewhere. Now my daughter justs asks me if she is not sure. ”mommy can I say that word or is it a big peoples word?” Lol. But once I tought her that she had never used them and I dont get in trouble for using them either.

  28. Jeff says:

    I guess I agree that if you’re going to use those words then you shouldn’t be a hypocrite by teaching your children that they are bad. I feel that there are certain words that are not polite to say. I’ve never had occasion to use the f word. I don’t think it expresses anything intelligent. As such, I have no problem telling that to my children.

    However, I do think that it’s better to teach them that certain words are inappropriate rather than just “bad”.

  29. MamaNym says:

    I have five kids, ages 4-13. There are no bad words. There are words that are inappropriate for children to use, and frankly not so hot for adults to use most of the time. An ass is an animal – my kids use that word in that context,but know what it means in the other context. A bitch is a female dog, and having discussed dog breeding, have used it appropriately, and thus learned the negativity it conjures when used to describe a human female. We talk about the words – explain them – demystify them. None of my kids wants to use a word that means “to have sexual intercourse” when trying to express negative feelings about something or someone.
    One thing that scares me about “bad” words, is that some people think the words to describe genitalia are bad – and teach their kids that these are bad words. I have three boys and two girls. We take care of a baby boy a couple days a week and all the kids help change his diapers. The word penis is heard in our house probably on a daily basis. Words having to do with the female genitalia are heard as well, but not with as much frequency. These words are not taboo in our house, because heaven forbid one of my kids should be touched inappropriately, I want them to be able to use the proper words to describe what happened to them.
    That said, I think I may have thoroughly confused my kids as to what exactly swearing entails. They do hear it from other people, no so much from peers (no as much swearing in the homeschooling community, perhaps?), and I tend to say things like, “Son of a motherless goat!” or “Sheboygan!” or “Fungi Perfecti!” – more because I don’t want the kids I babysit to pick up the words from me than worrying about my own kids using the language.

  30. Connie says:

    In our house, we say they aren’t to be used by minors. My 13 year old is our adult-word police. Notoriously. She’ll call out non-family adults, too. Though she’s got more tact than most adults. Teen Boy (almost 15) admits that he uses those words in the company of his friends, but assures me that he never directs said words toward anyone and never uses the ‘really big ones, Mom’. He’s an honorable kid, and I’m glad he’s honest. :-)

  31. Phil says:

    I think your approach is right on, Dan. I have precisely the same feeling about these words and have been thinking about how to address the subject with my young kids. In a way, it’s a bit like burping. Sometimes it happens accidentally, sometimes on purpose, sometimes for humor, sometimes just to feel better… but there are times and places where burping is inappropriate and/or disrespectful. If it slips in one of those inappropriate situations, you give a quick appropriate apology and you move on.

    Calling words “bad” just manufactures needless guilt and shame over a societal construct that really doesn’t mean squat in the grand scheme of things.

  32. Milly says:

    I do not remember telling my children a word was bad though they disagree..I do say it’s gutter talk, profanity, and/or do not swear. My main thought about words, are there is a time and a place for things, not all are equal and speak appropriately.

  33. Cat says:

    I tell my 5 year old son that they are “adult words” and he can’t use them until he’s older. I think that teaching our kids that words (or body parts or their entire body) are “bad” that it sends the wrong message. I try to make sure that I stress that harmful actions are “bad” or “naughty” but that HE isn’t “bad” or “naughty”.

    My husband and I are trying to raise our only child with the idea that he needs to be polite and behave appropriately for the venue and for his age. I make sure that *I* apologize when I am wrong and show him that Mommy isn’t “perfect”, I also tell him when he’s made a mistake that it’s ok, accidents happen and he doesn’t have to be “perfect” or even “good” at everything. Mommy and Daddy curse and we make mistakes.

  34. Celeste says:

    No, I don’t teach them words are bad. I teach them there are words that some people don’t like to hear, so we don’t use them unless we’re by ourselves. My son and I stopped saying ‘oh my hell’ together because I said that often enough, he picked it up, and I KNOW he would get in trouble saying it elsewhere. So we had a long talk about how we don’t use those kinds of words on a regular basis because some people are offended by them, and how about we stop saying it together. We also have to have the same types of discussions about things like cigarettes, alcohol, and ‘other religious’ and atheistic beliefs. That they are grownup things, some people get offended by it, and when they are old enough, they can make their own decisions and say what they want to say.

  35. Dawn Cauthen says:

    In a related story, when my daughter was 5, she used her middle finger to point (my son had, too). I never scolded them or told them not to point that way because what they were doing was innocent. But one day my daughter came home from her after school program with a note about her using her middle finer. I asked her what had happened and she said she was pointing at something when one of the employees had taken offense and directed my daughter to the director of the school who told my daughter that that was a bad thing to do. I went to the director and explained I was quite unhappy with her making my daughter feel guilty for doing something innocent. I explained I would have preferred she contact me to allow me to teach my daughter, not push her ideas of right & wrong on her.

  36. Mike Adams says:

    I don’t know about the idea of bad words. I think my wife and I try not to make a big deal out of cuss words. We let our kids know that if they use certain words, they might offend someone…a teacher, an adult at the store and then they’ll have to pay the consequences for that. My kids don’t seem compelled to cuss thought, maybe because we never actually forbade it.

    There are certain words that I think are closer to fitting in the category of “bad words”. They would be words that are used specifically to intimidate or belittle people. They include words like: Nigger, Faggot, Cunt, Spick, Chink, Honky Fatso, etc… you get the point. I don’t tolerate that crap from my children or from their friends when they are near.

    I expect them to be respectful of others.

    thanks, Mike Adams
    http://reasonable-thought.blogspot.com/

  37. Sara says:

    I’ve made it clear to my daughter that there is a time and a place for everything. I have made a concerted effort to not curse unless the situation calls for it. I’ve also allowed for her to express her emotions using whatever words she chooses. She knows that it’s a matter of respect for those around you to not curse around adults, but that I’m not dumb or naive in thinking she doesn’t curse like a sailor around her friends. So long as she maintains the respect around adults and figures of authority and knows the time and place for words – I don’t mind. And thus far, she’s certainly watched it.

  38. Tara says:

    We talk about the intention behind swear words, so you don’t tell someone they’re a f***head but if you say something was f***ing funny that’s not hurtful or mean. And how there’s appropriate and inappropriate times and places.

  39. Madison Tracer says:

    I take issue with the faulty premise that children will associate using “bad” words with being a “bad” person. We teach them otherwise every time we discipline them for making a bad decision, but remind them they are not a bad person. Trust that they can follow that through to encompass word choices.

    Beyond that, I do believe that some words are truly “bad”. The English language is ever evolving, and we add words to it constantly. Some words were created with only one goal: to denigrate, harass, abuse, or malign some person or group of people. The “N” word (for people of color) and the “C” word (for women) spring to mind. I can foresee no situation where these words would ever be appropriate.

  40. Michelle says:

    Yes, there are bad words. I guess if you and everyone else is going to use them, then telling your kid they’re “bad” would be bad for you and those others, as you stated. I don’t agree, however, with calling them “grown up words” because children love to be like the grown ups. This increases exponentially with age (thus so many 12 and 13 year olds cursing, drinking, smoking and having sex). Referring to them as something grown ups do will make it all the more appealing. I guess I don’t have an alternative label for you though.

    In my world, we do not swear. Our friends don’t swear. Our congregation “family” members do not swear. At no time do my children ever hear swear words. (They are also homeschooled so they have yet to have the joy of hearing a peer bring their parents language to my children’s ears). I’ve never had to tell them it was a “bad” word but I would if it came up. Because it is.

  41. Jenn says:

    I totally agree with everything you’ve said- even if you do tell your children that these words are “bad,” don’t they deserve to know why? Teach them the power that words can have, that there’s a time and a place for certain words, and let them choose when to use them. If you give them that responsibility, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the decisions your children make.

  42. Emily says:

    I don’t think I put it quite like that… saying they’re “bad words”. I just tell my boys (who are at an age where they are learning all these words from friends & school!) that those are words they don’t use because they’re adult words. The same goes for “potty mouth” words… I tell them they don’t use that language because it’s rude, and if they want to talk about things like that, then they need to do it in their room or the bathroom.

    I think of it more as a realistic way to parent; kids are going to cuss at some point in their lives. However, I often reinforce that they are JUST kids, and NOT adults, so they shouldn’t be using adult language & should just focus on being kids. :)

  43. Jennifer says:

    We teach our girls that certain words are “grown up” words and that they’re not very ladylike things to say even when you are grown up. I rarely swore as a teenager, out of respect for my parents… and at 36 I still feel really disrespectful if I do. That’s what we really want to get across to our kids. That you have to be respectful of other people and it’s better to assume they’d rather not listen to swearing than that they wouldn’t mind.

  44. Megan says:

    I teach my class (I teach 4 and 5 year olds) that those words are rude words. And that if they use them, people will think that they are rude. I do also let them know that I will not tolerate rude behavior at all, and it includes those words (and fart noises made with any part of the body except the original, fake vomiting noises at the lunch table, unkind words to others, etc.)

    Rude words include all the curse words, as well as the words “stupid” “heck” and “butt.”

    Mind you, I have two kids, ages 2 and 4. THe other day, the 4 year old threw a spectacular tantrum and was put to bed early. My son (the 2 year old) looked at me when I came downstairs and asked, “Did Ellie go to bed because she a whiny butt?”

  45. Shelley says:

    If a Child’s parents use those words and you tell them the words were bad they well think their parents are bad when they aren’t. I just tell them they aren’t ok to use at school. Then I tell them if they want to use them at home that’s up to the parents. Some people just slip up.

  46. The Dirty Hippie says:

    I grew up in a home where the adults never swore around us kids. I was in my teens the first time I heard either of my parents swear. They referred to it as cussing or swearing, and it wasn’t an acceptable form of communication. Period.

    Much to my mother’s dismay, I have not taken the same stance. My kids are 5 and 3 and they’ve heard it all (surprisingly, their sailor father isn’t the one responsible for the majority of it). I love words and I’ll be damned if anyone tries to tell me some are off limits. I tell my kids they are grown up words and that they can choose what words they want to use when they are adults. Until then, manners and proper grammar are requirements. That being said, my kids have never heard any racial slurs. Because as much as I love words, I love people more. I have no need to use language which the sole purpose of is to degrade.

  47. Tee says:

    In our house I am not known for being able to choose my words wisely at certain times, thus my 3 year old daughter learned the phrase “da[ng] it” early on. It began with “dang it dog!” and progressed into using it when something was dropped or something not quite working the way she wants it to. First time I heard her use it was from 2 rooms away. I didn’t yell at her because it’s my fault she learned it in the first place, but we do remind her that it’s not something that should be said anywhere but at home. So far we have not had any reports of her swearing from pre-school or elsewhere. We don’t call them bad words, they’re just words we should try not to use because they’re not nice. We’ve come up with alternatives like Frickin frackin, sheet, darn/dang, and arse.

  48. Jennifer says:

    I agree, I teach my children they are grown-up words. My daughter knows that I know she will experiment with them as she grows up, especially when with her friends, and considering what she’ll hear at school. Both my kids know they will get in trouble if they use those words at school, and are not permitted to use them at home, though they let one slip from time to time; they don’t get punished for it, just a reminder that they aren’t allowed to speak that way yet. They know using hurtful words, like name-calling, are far worse than any swear word.

  49. Nicole says:

    For our kids, we call them “words-you-probably-would-get-sent-to-the-principal-for-saying.” Because really, that’s about all kids need to know. It’s a practical thing. Then we laugh w them about how words are just words. We talk about it in nerdy linguistic types of ways.

  50. Andrea says:

    What’s more, calling them “bad” words eventually de-sensitizes your kids to what you think is “bad” because like you said – plenty of people use them all the time. It makes the concept of bad meaningless and maybe thats a dangerous thing.

    We say those words are not polite. They are only for grown-ups and even then, they are not for polite conversation. Not just swear words, but other kinds of talk that is hateful and hurtful. My 4 year old can often be heard saying, “mom, “hate” is not really nice.” It drives her grandma nuts, but I think its a good concept to learn – that “hate” is something that is very strong and not nice and should be reserved for more than just rotten bananas or leaving the wet towel on the floor.

    I also teach Junior High and believe me you’ve not heard swearing until you walk through the quad at lunch. Some teachers hand out detentions for every F bomb, but as far as I’m concerned the kids are just trying out one of the easiest and harmless forms of rebellion. When it’s really bad I’ll call them out on it – like “this sandwhich is so fXXking good!” – I’ll say, “really you should save the f word for when you really fXXking need it – otherwise, it’s fXXking meaningless.” That usually makes the point better than detention. Kids need to learn that there are times and places for everything, and that their are different situations where different sorts of things are allowed. They are never to young to learn it.

  51. LIlStacy says:

    By putting a taboo on “bad” words, you give them their power!

  52. Missy says:

    We have never said that they are bad words. We have always told our kids that they are inappropriate words for kids to say or that they are grown-up words.
    When they get older, we will explain what the words really mean and why they are inappropriate.
    However, we don’t swear in our home and we’ve never heard the kids say a “bad word.” They get all bent out of shape when we use the word stupid.
    I’m not naive, I know they probably hear those words at school and from friends. But I think because we set the example that we don’t say them and they know they are inappropriate to us, they don’t ever say them at home; at least not yet. =)

  53. Han says:

    My son is 13 and early on I had many of the same thoughts as you, and took some time in formulating my opinions. Here’s what I have taught my kid: Words are tools and depending on how you use them, they can build or destroy. It’s important to consider your audience and be considerate of their feelings ANY time you speak. Speak truth, share emotions, but never use words as weapons.

    That’s not how I was raised. My parents taught me about bad words but what I learned as I grew is that even though my parents never cussed, they had euphemisms for expressing the same sentiments as cuss words. Where I might say “damn!”, my mother would say “rats!”. When I say “$h1t”, she might say “crap”. They were cussing in their own “harmless” way. Studies have shown, it’s healthy to use expletives rather than bottling emotions. And assigning the label of “bad” to anything, be it words or behaviors, is essentially teaching our children shame.

    Teaching our children the power of words – all of them – and teaching them respect in words and actions is critical to building character. It’s going to take a lot of effort and probably several generations to undo the harmful patterns of shame in our culture. Eliminating the concept of “bad words” is a step in the right direction.

  54. Charita says:

    Funny. I recently went back to college at the ripe age of 44. I study in the cafeteria. It never fails. There is always some kid sitting very near me screaming the f word over and over and over… It is sooo annoying! The thing is, why is it so annoying? Why is it a ‘bad’ word?

  55. Our Jo says:

    I grew up in a household where no one swore around the kids. One time I heard my dad with his mates, when he thought I wasn’t around… I still remember to this day how mortified I was to hear this outpouring of filth (as I percieved it) from my dads mouth. Until that point I thought my parents were perfect.

    Now I’m the parent. I swear around my son (he’s 13), I always have. I am absolutely determined to be a real person around him. I want him to know the real me, and love me for who I am.

    He swears a bit, but he knows it’s not a big deal. He is educated enough to realise when certain words are not appropriate.

    I honestly can’t say whether my way or my parents way is the best way.. but I do know that at the end of the day, I’m not trying to hide who I am from the person I love most in the world.

  56. generalslove says:

    i teach my kiddos that there are words that grown ups can say but that are inappropriate for kids to say. I will tell you that while those words include your average cuss words, it also includes anything that could be demeaning to say to someone (i.e. stupid, idiot, retarded, dumb, etc)… my kids will often ask me if a new word they hear sounds like something i may disapprove of…they are fairly well behaved/well spoken kiddos…i will also say that periodically we will let our teen have a free for 5 or 10 min of whatever she feels she needs to say, yell, scream in order to receive her frustration…Times for this are few and far between but does alleviate the need to shout them at other people when she is angry…

  57. Sarah Naumcheff says:

    There is no such thing as a bad word. It is the intent behind a word that is the problem. Calling a woman a b—– is just as bad as calling her ugly. But one needs to be censored and one doesn’t, even though they have the same meaning behind it. This is why I consider people who say “Gosh darn it all to heck” hypocrites for chastising people when they use the “real” words, when really they are saying the exact same thing…

  58. Donna says:

    My boys are 3 and 5, but I’ve had to have a chat about “grown up” or “adult” words. I do not believe there are any “bad” words, but there are words that are for adults only. Swearing doesn’t bother me and never has. I grew up with a sailor for a father and my husband is quite a swearer as well. Meh, they’re only words and words only have as much power as you give them.

    For instance, what do you think of the word “fanny”? I’m American, so I know the majority of you will think that it’s just an innocent word used in replacement of “butt” or “buttocks” (or “bum”) right? Well, in Australia it means something entirely different. Aussies get an enormous kick out of how often that word is used in US tv shows and just in general, because here it means vagina. So, is “fanny” a bad word? You may not think so, but some Australians would beg to differ.

    So you see, a word is a word and nothing more. For my sons, they know that there are certain words they should not use until they are a bit older and they see that not adults swear a lot, because I don’t swear very often. The thing I stress is to understand what words means to different groups of people and to respect the social mores of that group. Actually, there are only 3 words I do not tolerate because there are very few, if any, redeeming qualities in them. They are: “dumb”, “stupid” and “hate”. While I’m not a fan of banning anything, if I could ban those three words, I would.

    It’s like with anything else though…. everything in moderation.

  59. Jen says:

    We have a rating scale, there are words that are always ok (most of our everyday language), words that are questionable (butthead, damn, fart, crap etc.) these are words we hear even in cartoons, but are not a good idea to use at school or at great-grandmas house, then there are words only adults are aloud to say (I am sure you all know these. The kids won’t get in trouble in my house for using any of these words, however they will be reminded that they aren’t adults if I hear one of the adult words, and we don’t use these words in anger towards each other ever, not even adults in my house. Also we stress kind words are more powerful than any other words out there.

  60. Reverend Joseph says:

    To me it boils down to 2 things….do as I tell you not as I do
    The words are bad because they make us cras.

    Taking the Name of the Lord in vain is a whole OTHER story

  61. Amanda says:

    We use polite/impolite to describe words. So called “bad” words are impolite words in our house and we don’t want to use them because it’s not polite. Which puts them directly at odds with my daughters pleases/thank-you’s. My daughter is two-years-old and at the repeats everything stage. I like doing it this way because it gives us wriggle room for different contexts later down the road and in different settings.

  62. Melanie says:

    We call them “adult words” at our house. I get more upset about name calling than “adult words”.

    My brother and his wife tried a “one free swear word a day” thing at their house. The idea got IMMEDIATELY nixed the first day….when the children chose “mother f_____ b____” as their first choice. I couldn’t stop laughing for three days. It’s not funny. But it is.

  63. Rissa says:

    I like your approach. Because really, you’re kid will learn the words anyway. So what’s important is that they learn when, if ever, it’s okay to use those words. I see practical pitfalls to the approach, but you’d have that with any method I think, so it’s not necessarily bad. Like, kids have to be a certain age before they can understand concepts like respect. They also have to be a certain age before they can understand that other people don’t think and feel like they do. So depending on the age of the child, it might be hard for them to understand what you’re teaching them enough to follow what you say. Also, you might come across the stubborn kids who will insist they are big and grown up like mommy and daddy, or the ones who will use this knowledge that the words aren’t really bad as a justification that they’re okay to use.

    It sounds like the really well adjusted kids, like Noah, probably won’t have a problem with the process though. If it’s working for your child, then you keep doing what you’re doing. I think it’s great to teach kids positively, instead of through shame or fear or guilt, and science shows that it works better in the long term when you’re positive. So if you’ve got a kid who’s temperament allows for it, then power to you. :)

  64. caroline says:

    I’v read all the comment and I guess I’m the one parent with teens that swear like truckers, and I hate it! I didn’t call them bad words when they were little. I called them swear words or words some people use because they haven’t a larger vocabulary to draw from. Looks like it completely back fired. If the f word was a bomb my house would have blown up years ago. They use the swears if they are happy,hurt,angry,any time really. Its horrifying. I get mad and truly lose it when they swear in public and around younger children. I think it makes people sound uneducated and trashy. I’m hoping that when their older they will stop or when they are sick of me sending them to their rooms.

  65. Crista says:

    I try to not make a huge deal out of the situations but for example my 3 year old said the other day damnit and I just said oh we don’t say that it is dangit and I haven’t heard him say the other since.

  66. Amy says:

    I was raised to never cuss, and rarely ever heard my parents use any – so like it is with human nature, I wanted to cuss when I got older bc it was taboo. Fast forward to now, where I have two grown daughters, ages 17 and 24. Whereas I would never cuss around them when they were young, I no longer censor my speech now. When confronted about being a hypocrite, I tell them no, there was a specific purpose – two actually. One is, as you grow I want you to enrich your vocabulary and learn creative ways to express yourself without always resorting to a cuss word. Two is, I didn’t want them to just be in the habit of cussing bc there are times where it is offensive or inappropriate, such during a job interview. Reading some of the others’ comments, now I’m not sure if I couldn’t have introduced the words sooner along with the discussion of appropriateness and self-control…and now they both rarely cuss but when they do it’s no big deal.

  67. Jenny says:

    Well, it seems as though it is agreed that words aren’t bad but how they are used.
    How I handle this with my son is saying foul language – because then it is about intent rather than words, which we love in our house. I have also told him when he was younger, that he could use that kind of word when he grew up and became a Rock Star. I would also like to add that I think *cuss* words are over used and give a false sense of relief, when coming up with a descriptive sentence would provide a real sense of declaration.

  68. Carol says:

    I always made a distinction between swear words and genuinely “bad” words (hateful words, those designed to hurt or demean). Swear words have their place. But we had an incident where my son (then 5) was relaying in children’s chapel the time when I backed our car into our other car. The story included “and Daddy said, “‘Oh, fuck!” I started then to talk to my kids about knowing their audience. What is okay with your buddies is not necessarily okay with your teachers or other adults. They get it.

  69. Erin C says:

    I’ve always called them “adult word” to my daughter, now 14. I don’t hesitate using them at home and clean up my mouth completely at work — childcare provider. I’ve found the kids who like to use that language the most are the ones who repeat that they are “bad words”. I tell children they aren’t polite, but sometimes adults use them. I’ll note that my daughter does not, to my knowledge, curse at all. Not even to say the type of a movie, such as Jackass.

  70. Sabrina says:

    In my house, the “bad words” you speak of are not defined. My kid understands that there are some words that are inappropriate to use at places like school. She knows them, even knows what some of them mean. I did that to prove a point to her. I asked her to restate the sentence she heard without those “bad words”, and determine which sounded better. She concluded, by herself, that when people use excessive amounts of curse words that they don’t give the presence of an intelligent person. I try to avoid them myself, but we don’t use subsititues either (like shoot for the obvious). I feel that be doing that you are saying the words but trying to be covert about it. Your kid is going to hear these things, if not from you, then kids at school. I really dislike the school teaching my child that a word could be bad. I teach that some have a bad meaning or emotion attached to them. Wow, this went longer then intended. Good luck.

  71. Anonymous says:

    Taking the negative conotation away from those words could also rid the temptation to use them. Kids like to push their rules and boundaries to find out how far they can go. Its human nature to be curious and that leads to people doing things “illegal”. By illegal i just mean against to set rules. For a child that is your rules. We aren’t tempted to trying something known to be perfectly safe and legal and what not, same with kids. So maybe if they were not thought of that way….

    Just thinking, awesome food for thought, thank you.

  72. Melody says:

    I’d like to take this one step further. When we tell kids that certain words are “bad,” you can be sure that when they are rebellious teens (and all teens rebel) that is one of the first and easiest ways they will use to show their independence from the adults in their life. Most teens I know swear more than I think they should, but I think I understand. I was a rebellious young person who developed quite a “vocabulary.” It wasn’t until I heard that a certain person didn’t want to invite me to their home because of my “filthy mouth,” that I realized I was harming my own interests. I tell my kids this story, too, and warn them that using unacceptable language can become a habit so they do need to watch what they say. And, I leave it at that. : )

  73. Piper says:

    I’ve always called them “offensive” and stress they have a place and time. Kids are going to hear these words, and teaching them not to overreact to them is more effecting that reprimanding for repeating something they hear.

  74. Nichole says:

    I really don’t think kids take it that deep.. I don’t think that they see their family members (or themselves) as “bad” if they use bad language. My fiancé and myself use quite a lot of “bad words” yet somehow our two daughters (5 and 3) have never. They understand that there are just some words u don’t use, as children. I have explained that when they grow up.. They can make the choice to use them, or not. But, I really don’t think that your son is thinking that deeply about it. It’s just more of a part of life. U just don’t do it bc your told not to. Lol.

  75. Nathan says:

    Calling them bad words is misguided and gives the words in question more power than they deserve. I just say that they’re rude, because the only reason that they are considered bad is social convention. It seems to have worked well so far. I think calling them adult words is worse than useless. What kid doesn’t want to be considered grown-up? And what’s so adult about losing your cool and being rude? Giving words power by acting shocked or getting mad just adds to the appeal. Kids don’t have much power, so anything that lets them have a larger effect on the world is even more appealing than it is for adults.

  76. kdrausin says:

    I have to admit that when my son uses a “bad word” I’m a bit taken back and I usually correct him. I didn’t grow up hearing those words and was taught not to say them. Then I met my husband…

    I find it can be difficult to balance teaching my son to be himself and make sure his behavior and language is appropriate when he’s out in public or on Facebook.
    (He’s 14)

  77. MaryE says:

    Hum, this could be a little over thinking of the topic…. Kids lack the judgement to know when it’s appropriate to say or do something off color. Let me narrow that statement down a bit, my kids lack the judgement to know when it’s appropriate to do or say something off color. Hence the note that came home with my adorable, sweet, comical boy in kindergarten because he was making inappropriate gestures while practicing the graduation song. It’s that same part of their cute little brain who will see a person in a wheel chair and innocently proclaim loudly “look that person is in a wheel chair! What’s wrong with them”? Curse words are not particularly hurtful words like: stupid, idiot, jerk, ect. Curse words are not particularly rude words like: shut up. Curse words are the words that if used at school will get you in trouble. And by teaching that they are “bad” indicates that if used, a punishment is likely to follow. Yes, I use the words occasionally, but I’m an adult and the part of my brain which judges the appropriateness of the situation is fully formed. So it’s not bad for grown ups to say these words, it’s bad for children to use them, because they’re words that require some maturity. As a side note; I was 17 years old and had pushed my very virtuous father over a teenage ledge when I heard him say a curse word for the first time. My brother and I found it hilarious! I’m pretty sure he actually used it out of context, which made it that much funnier!

  78. Kim says:

    I let my now 10 year old curse in the house. Not in public, not if people are over, but in our home/our sanctuary she is safe to express herself as wanted. After the age of 4 she was able to grasp the “home-only” concept well. She almost never curses now, because it isn’t a big deal.

  79. BeckyB says:

    My 5 year old daughter flipped me off (appropriately) the other day. I told her it was not a nice thing to do & we shouldn’t do it to other people. (Inside I was giggling)… We try our best not to swear, and well, we’re only human. Cuss words pop out. We’re teaching her that cussing is not something you SHOULD do… Although I do jump all over her case when she calls a PERSON stupid… I despise that word when used against another person. The car can be stupid… but a person cannot ;-)

  80. Kristy says:

    I totally agree. I have a lot of friends with kids and it gets really frustrating to have to censor my speech when I visit any one of them. The thing is, I’m not one to use “grown up” words. But I still get in trouble. Every one of my friends has a different idea of what words are “bad”. Some won’t let me say “stupid” or “dumb”. Others have an issue with the word “crap”. No matter what I say, I can’t win. One time I even got in trouble for using the word “gosh”. I think “wow, their kids are in for a wake up call.” They call these bad words. I can only imagine how the parents of these children are going to react when their children come home speaking real grown up words. I think there is a difference between teaching your child “bad vs good” and “okay vs better”. Just my 2 cents.

  81. Smilingbird says:

    I teach my kids that some words are grown up words that are not appropriate for children to use. As the older kids grew, I taught them contextual use, hurtful use, peer pressure and using cussing to “look cool.”

    I taught them which word they were never to use because they are too potentially hurtful or disrespectful (lord’s name in vain, belittling words and sexual taunting like “gay,” for instance). Those lessons went with lessons on empathy and kindness and being “on the small side of the numbers.” I taught them that the choice was theirs as to whether they used those words in their worlds (school, etc.), and set the boundary that at home I didn’t want to hear them.

    And yes, Mommy has a potty-mouth. I use well-placed swear words with the teens to emphasize a point or get their attention. I avoid overuse and maintain the shock value to make my point. The little one knows that she’s not to use the words at all for now.

  82. Gena Brenan says:

    I am a firm believer that language is not bad unless it is used poorly. My 5 year old drops F-Bombs in conversation, but it is always appropriate. He uses the word to express how he feels about something, and he doesn’t just go around using these words to make people laugh.

    I have explained to both he and my 7 year old that I honestly don’t care what they say at home. I have also told them that teachers and administators at school are not home. They will bench them if they get caught using more colorful language. I told them it was on them to keep it in check. So far, it has worked out well, and I honestly think that by giving them the power of their words, there will be less issues down the line.

    I would much rather spend my time teaching the boys fun words like decapitate or enthusiastic than telling them that saying the F word is wrong.

  83. Ruth says:

    I have always taught my son that there are no “bad” words, but there are inappropriate times and places to use certain words. There are other words that are very hurtful to people — racial epithets, for example — and these should never be used. I didn’t think about this as philosophically as you did, Dan. I just knew from early on that Aidan was a kid who would not do well with tons of rules — he would end up being oppositional. So I chose to stick to a few very basic rules (We do not hit anyone, ever., etc.). I figured that identifying five hundred ways for him to get in trouble would not be very helpful. Thus, I told him he could use whatever words he wanted to use around me, but that if he used those words at school and got in trouble, that was his own problem. Or if he offended someone else’s mom, that was his problem. I did not have his back on that. I am happy to say that at age 13 he is not oppositional, and is a delightful, caring kid who sticks up for the underdog. He also swears like a sailor, but not at his grandparents’ house, or in school, etc. :-)

  84. Jennice says:

    I have been telling my daughter that certain word are ‘bad’. But I don’t think that they are bad, i just don’t want them coming out of my little girl’s mouth.I evemn tell her that “ladies” dont use certain words. hwne my daughter and i are alone and i hear her say something like “damn, i can’t find my Barbie, I usually let it slide because i don’t want to restrict saying what she feels at that particular moment. But I will tell her not use certain words in front of other adults.

  85. Marguerite says:

    I don’t have an issue with “bad words” as I have taught my boys that they are not acceptable in public, in fights, and just to gratuitously use them. If you drop a hammer on your foot and “shit!” pops out, it’s all good.

    I do, however, have an issue with the usage of “pardon my French”….please don’t blame your poor choice of language on the language of my ancestors.

  86. Michelle W. says:

    I guess I was lucky when I was growing up to have a Mom who was pretty open-minded about most things. She never called them “bad” words, just made it clear that they words used by grown ups.
    From time to time, when I would hear a word I didn’t know, I’d ask her about it. She’d tell me what it meant and, if it was one of “those” words. she’d add that I shouldn’t say it until I was older.
    But she never said words are bad, and she never said I couldn’t use them.

  87. Gary Pete says:

    Children learn what they live – if they hear ‘cuss’ words all the time, they’re going to repeat them.
    The problem is that they can get into trouble for saying the wrong thing at school, for example, by using ‘grown-up’ words.
    It’s important for us to be good role-models.

  88. nudegayguy says:

    My thought is at four years of age, Noah might not equate “bad words” with “bad people.” My child development knowledge lacks a bit, but that level of analysis might be beyone him at this stage. At the same time, the more he hears the “bad words,” and receives some kind of reinforcement the more likely he is to use them himself without really understanding their meaning.

  89. Peter says:

    Racial vilification is of course totally unacceptable.

    Most “bad” words were very acceptable ordinary words in earlier eras. Shakespear and Chaucer used them. They were in common daily use by “working” and “middle class” who spoke Anglo-Saxon English, whereas most of the ruling class from the 11th century sneared at Saxon words and spoke French (even German during Georgian to mid Victorian court days). During the double standard morality of the Victorian era especially, all Anglo-Saxon sexual or body function words were declared obscene by the “upper class”. Expurgated versions of Shakespear and Chaucer were published. My mother said that in her childhood in the 1910′s ‘belly’ & ‘thigh’ etc were considered very rude.

    Like George Orwell’s double-speak, these commonly used good simple words were now considered “bad” and euphemisms substituted, their Latin or French equivalents used only occasionally. The original words became swear words.

    Those euphemisms still seem to be extremely common on US public TV. During numerous visits to US over the last 45 years we have been amazed at the immaturity of many programs. In Australia, UK, NZ etc your ‘bad’ language is used on radio and standard TV (ie: all non cable TV) where it is appropriate. It shocks many visiting Americans – also that full nudity is permitted on standard TV in mature rated programs. Sex is, after all, a very natural function for adults. Fortunately we seem to depict less extreme violence than US.

    Most European languages have no sexual or body function swear words. Merde (shit) is used by everone including the French President and ministers, even on TV.

    Double-speak has been adopted by most politicians and spreading worldwide. Maybe this gradual return to simple English is what we all need. With more common usage sexual function words will once again loose shock value.

  90. dara Ickes says:

    when my daughter was young and learning all the words that are important, we stressed that there is no such thing as a bad word, only words you shouldn’t say to her Great Grandmother. She would tell us the “new” word she learned in preschool, from the store, etc and we would explain what the word truly meant, how to use it in a sentence, how to spell it. Once it became a “lesson” it was no longer fun. All words have meaning, all words have value, it is not my job to tell you that you can’t say a certain word because someone else said it was a bad word. I for one believe that a well placed F-Bomb totally makes sense as long as you know where and when to use it.

  91. Nikki says:

    We just taught our kids that there are words that people aren’t comfortable with. Just like it’s not polite to fart in the library, pick your nose in the mall, or spit in your class.They are just words though, and we don’t generally make a big fuss over it. If the kids want to say the Big Baddies then can go into the bathroom, shut the door and have at it. (“As loud as I want Mommy?” “Yes.” “Even if you can hear me.” “Yes, as long as you have the respect for others to remove yourself and go in and shut the door.” ONE of our three children took this opportunity. One night when he was about 9 or 10 he went into the bathroom and “had it”. Rather quietly.

    In the same vein we are not religious but when my oldest son took to saying Jesus’ name all the time we said all beliefs aside that’s just a silly and disrespectful practice. We then demonstrate by repeating the same thing with a neighbour’s name, my son’s name, Gramma’s name….

    It’s not about Good and Bad. It’s about respect for others and manners.

    There is only ONE word that is banned from our home. That word has done more damage to people I know than any other word. That word is “stupid”. No one IS stupid. People may lack common sense, they may not be very fast…they may be good at one thing and poor at another, but EVERYONE can learn. We do not allow name calling in this house (unless it’s something nice). I’d rather have my kids cussing up a storm than calling people idiots or poopy diaper babies.

    My daughter is still young yet, but my boys are almost 16 and 14 and while the oldest one my let out a mild expletive if he drops a glass and breaks it he is not really into cussing, and my 14 would just be too embarrassed. lol If his friend cusses HIS whole face turns red and he edges away.

  92. [...] Cursed in Front of the Kids. Sh*t. Now What? Should We Really Call Them Bad Words to our Kids? How to Stop Kids [...]

  93. wendy says:

    Whatever you choose to call the words “bad” or “inappropriate”, as a potential parent, I don’t want my kids to use swear words so freely. I just feel that there are many situations where it is inappropriate (school, public, work, etc) and not classy. Even though I swear myself, I personally feel that it is not very classy to post swear words in your FB statuses or in other public situations. I want to always use respectful and appropriate language in all above mentioned situations. This is want I want to teach my future children.

  94. C. Dawn says:

    I’m right there with you! I *very* quickly realized that while my now-14 yr old daughter’s grandparents weren’t likely to ever be caught swearing, her mother, 3 aunts, and numerous friends who are almost “aunts/uncles” were no where NEAR that reserved. I’ve got a pretty dynamic personality and I tend to express myself exuberantly.

    So she learned while very small that like alcohol & driving, there were some things reserved for grown-ups. And that just like not all grown-ups drink, not all of them swear either BUT most do at some point and that’s ok.

    Recently, we had a discussion about Foster The People’s song “Pumped Up Kicks”. She was uncomfortable with the violence references but we both were hooked on the catchy beat. So we decided to substitute “fun” & “mullet” for the two most concerning nouns.

    Yeah, she’s 14 & most days she would rather scream at or ignore me a little more than she wants to hug me. She’s exploring her own identity now and I’m sure uses some of those adult words sometimes. But references to gun violence in pop lyrics commonly sung by kids seems inappropriate to her, and she always hugs me goodnight.

    I think I’ve done ok so far conveying what things in this world are *really* worth being worried about. Sounds like you are, too. :^)

  95. Angela R says:

    I teach my children that there are “rude” words -or expletives; words that we should try to avoid in polite company because they express annoyance or anger in a way which is inappropriate in certain company i.e. school, work, or grocery stores; words that when aimed *at* someone say “I don’t think very highly of you”. We ride the bus a lot & they hear vulgarity every time. It really upsets them & some people do not respond well to polite requests to watch their language so I’ve also had to teach them that we have to ignore rude words from others in situations like that. I also always apologize when I slip up in front of them. While freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, having enough self control to try to always treat others with respect & dignity is preferable to giving in to emotional outbursts

  96. Heather S. says:

    We’ve always said there are no bad words – just some words are not always appropriate to situations – so we went for the “Big People Words” and “Little People Words” concept. But we also realized that kiddos need to express themselves (especially when frustrated!) just as much as an adult does – so we gave them other words and ideas that worked for them. Just yesterday, my (almost) 6-year-old son tripped, fell and dropped the yogurts he was carrying in the house for me and exclaimed “POOP!!!” and then looked mortified as he asked Daddy and I if it was ok for him to use that. Yup – we told him, it was and then we had a conversation about when it was appropriate and not. It’s all about situations for us – and for our kids, we’ve been fortunate that if we explain reasons of why we don’t want them to say big people words or ride their bikes without their helmets or talk to strangers or pet the dog while eating – they get it… and they realize that Mommy and Daddy aren’t just saying it to be mean. We allow them to question for understanding / clarification(not the whiny questions!) and go from there.

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