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Bad Dad Confessional: I Swear In Front Of My Kids

By jasonavant |

One of the funniest aspects of this whole “dadblogging is a new phenomenon” thing (unrelated: last month I celebrated my 6th year as a dadblogger) is this underlying assumption that we blogging dads are some sort of role model, a small but dedicated cadre of new Atticus Finches who are enlightening the rest of the dadding masses through our exemplary behavior.

What a crock of @$#%.

Here’s the reality. Last night, as befitting my New Model Dad status, I was preparing dinner for the family (nothing fancy – just some chicken baked in some leftover Thanksgiving gravy; after busting out the cooking skills on Turkey Day, I was still spent). The microwave beeped as I was putting some glasses into our dishwasher. I turned, removed the Tupperware container full of leftover stuffing, which promptly slipped out of my hand and exploded all over the floor. I clenched my jaw, bumped into the protruding top rack of the dishwasher, causing it to slam back into the machine, resulting in one of the glasses shattering into a million pieces. “Oh, FUDGE. FUDGE ME, you motherfudger!”, I snarled.

Only, like A Christmas Story‘s Ralphie, I didn’t say “fudge”. And of course the kids were sitting right there.

I wish I could tell you that this was an isolated incident, but it’s just the latest in a long series of me swearing in front of my kids. I have a mouth like a sailor; while I don’t have a very good filter, my volume control’s become much better over the past few years.  But unfortunately, my son absorbed a few of the bad words at a very early age. (Decorum prohibits me from telling my favorite “four-year-old drops the F-bomb” story; you can read it here.) Despite a couple of isolated incidents, he keeps his language clean. This is to his credit: he’s also reading chapter books these days, and he’s shown a preference for books for older kids and even adults. He’s working his way through the Harry Potter series (which contain the occasional “damn” and “hell”), the Percy Jackson series (ditto), and the Artemis Fowl books (likewise). He understands that he’s not to use the bad words he may read in books, or that he hears in his favorite movies or TV shows. This is easier in theory than it is in practice: my in-laws recently gave him a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and while I’m thrilled that he’s excited to dive into that classic work of American literature, I’m not at all sure he’s capable of processing Twain’s prolific use of the n-word.

But I figure he’s got a few more years until he’s ready for that. In the meantime, I’ll continue to not worry too much about my language. Part of parenting is teaching your kids to use good judgment and to think things through before they actually do them; so far, my son’s done pretty well in that regard. Now that my daughter’s picking up new words, I suppose I’ll need to be extra careful about the ones I use around her. On the flip side, a cute little redhaired girl cursing like a rap star? That is blogging GOLD.

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About jasonavant



Jason Avant is the founder and Managing Editor of DadCentric. He lives in San Diego county with his wife, two kids, and a dog. He presides over a vast blogging empire that includes his personal site, Pet Cobra, writes for MamaPop, and has contributed to Babble in the past.

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14 thoughts on “Bad Dad Confessional: I Swear In Front Of My Kids

  1. Greg Barbera says:

    A Lightning Thief reference! Boo yah!

  2. Trish Smith says:

    It’s funny – in our family, I’m the one who has a mouth like a sailor. It’s taken a LOT of restraint to not drop f-bombs on a regular basis in front of our 8-yr old, and I can’t say I was always successful (but one of the perks of being a stay-at-home mom is that it was usually during the day when his dad wasn’t around).

    The most awesome part of all of that is that the one time one of us cursed in front of the kid when the other parent was around was when my husband said “crap!” There’s not much better ammo than being able to say to your partner, “Yes, I know I let him have a candy bar before dinner. But at least I didn’t say ‘crap’ in front of him!” I might be petty, but damn it, I know how to save my skin!

  3. mikeadamick says:

    This is classic. I can’t tell you how many new words I’ve taught the kid. Great post!

  4. Gayle Davies says:

    Thanks for admitting Daddy bloggers should not be seen as moral models – that’s healthy. I use more foul language now that my kids are middle schoolers. They are always chastising me for it – I think they really don’t want a Mom with a potty mouth. But I revel in “being real” and the opportunity to crow to them about it. 2x in last week my 12 yo daughter said, “Jesus!” instead of her usual “Geez!” Didn’t like it.

  5. Rachel Dowling says:

    I can totally relate to this. I grew up with an exceedingly verbal and sometimes also cursing mother, and it seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in regards to how I am raising my two year old. He also has an exceptional vocabulary, and so far, knock on wood, he has not repeated the not so savory words we’ve sometimes said in front of him.

    I have a blog post about a similar subject, aka mom and road rage.

  6. Maura says:


  7. homemakerman says:


  8. Chris Routly (Daddy Doctrines) says:

    I feel really fortunate that I reined in my tongue long before we had kids, because my toddler is AMAZING at pulling out and repeating chestnuts that I’ve evidently said a lot, without knowing it. But instead of being curses, it’s things like when I greet his younger brother with a Big Bopper-esque “HELL-oh BAAAAAAAY-BAH!” or throw down a “BOO-YAAA!” after getting an answer (question?) right when we’re watching Jeopardy!.
    I am not ashamed.

  9. reilly810 says:

    This is great. I think there are far worse things in the world than swearing, and people need to get off their righteous phony high horses about it. The same people who are appalled by swearing live idly in a world where people lie, cheat, steal and abuse each other on a daily basis. But swearing! Oh my, that’s unacceptable.

    One of the funniest things I’d heard in a long time is that my 3 year old nephew was enthusiastically saying “mofo” as he trotted about the house. My sister and BIL were kind of horrified, and I couldn’t stop laughing. The shock was kind unrealistic for since I’m sure that word has slipped out of my BIL’s mouth on more than one occasion.

    Can’t wait to see what gems will come out of my kid’s mouth.

  10. Mary Beth says:

    It’s funny – it’s my husband who cusses the most around the kids but I catch myself doing it too. I don’t necessarily think it’s cool… I think cuss words are actually value-neutral… they are not inherently ‘bad’ just society says they are, and there are certainly better ways of handling or expressing stress. That’s the lesson I want my kids to learn. It’s easy to cuss in response to stress. It’s more difficult to handle it with more maturely.

  11. LADY GOO GOO GAGA says:

    Listen – there’s nothing like a good curse word – I have given up smoking, I have given up money, I have given up my social life – I have given up not being a fat person with saggy boobs – If I want to say Fuck – I think I am entitled……

  12. Clarissa R. says:

    My significant other is a stay at home dad. Some days I swear every other word out of his mouth is the F-bomb. We have tried to work on the language but my 4 year old just ignores it and walks away. Some days i think the only time she listens is if there is a swear word involved. Her first bad word according to my stepmother was “Punk.” Now mind you my dad was rolling on the floor dying because he thought it was the funniest thing. I still die when i think of my dad calling her a little pecker and she repeated him and then started screaming it. As long as you let them know what words are and are not appropriate with them, they will do just fine.

  13. Rick B. says:

    It’s good we can laugh at ourselves, because those of us who really strive to take good care of our children can often be overly critical of our parenting thus inducing even more unnecessary stress into the situation.

  14. Shannon E. says:

    Thanks to every one of you for commenting as you have. I don’t feel like such a piece of sh&t parent anymore. My 18 yr old recently ran away to her fathers and cried that my boyfriend and I cuss AT her which is not the case. Her younger 16 yr old sister was furious at her accusations after being questioned by her father if we are abusing them with our language. I’m not proud of cursing but sometimes it definetely drives a point home. At 18 in college and working we expected alot from her, keep her grades up, pay her car insurance, and help around the house. Being a typical 18 yr old who feels “she has to do everything”, cussing comes rather consistantly. Mind you I’ve gotten onto her myself for certain words especially around my 5yr old nephew and 8yr old neice. Telling her “the *&%$ing laundry she folded is damp again!” for the upteenth time because she was just in a hurry and didn’t want to wait on the dryer is not cussing AT her. I have grilled myself over the last 3 weeks about my parenting skills and what I’ve done wrong but I agree with Reilly810, there are far more worse things that I could be doing as a parent in this world. Jason, it takes a real true to life man and father to admit when you haven’t done a great job on a certain parenting task or at a parenting moment, we are only human and no one is perfect. I remind myself of that everytime I crucify myself for something I think I should’ve done differently. If we didn’t have so many parents out there feeling so guilty about what they’re doing wrong with raising there kids, there would be more kids like the older generations who dealt with what you got and moved on. There wasn’t any crying and whining about how badly your parents treated you like kids do now.

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