My four-year-old is a bit prissy about a few things, most notably language. She’s told me on more than one occasion that she doesn’t “respect” swear words, and she recently refused to watch Furry Vengeance because she swore she heard a curse in the preview. Well, she didn’t swear – that’s the whole point. Like me at her age, she’s sensitive to words that sound mean and vulgar, which tells me only one thing: that she’s gonna cuss like a trucker when she grows up.
According to TIME magazine, my four-year-old is among a dying breed of children who refuse to use profanity. In fact, studies show kids are using the f-word as early as 2-years-old. (Like real scientific studies, not just empirical evidence on YouTube.) And it’s us grown-ups that are to blame.
Language researcher Timothy Jay said at the Sociolinguistics Symposium in the U.K. that “a rise of vulgarity among adults has lead children to curse at earlier ages than ever before,” adding, “We find their swearing really takes off between (ages) three and four. By the time kids go to school now, they’re saying all the words that we try to protect them from on television.”
So maybe all of the concern raised over the title of $#*! My Dad Says, premiering tonight on CBS, is moot. Why worry about exposing kids to a “bleep” when they’re hearing the real word at home? Jay told the Montreal Gazette, “two-thirds of adults with rules against swearing will themselves swear at home.” I have to admit, I love an artfully used expletive, though I do expect my daughter to understand that obscenities are for adults only. As I said, she’s avoided colorful language quite deliberately – until tonight at my mother’s house, when she said, “We better do the dishes so Grandma doesn’t get pissed.” Indeed. Grandma can’t stand it when her kitchen looks like $#*!.
Have you heard your little ones swearing? Do you swear in front of your kids but expect them not to?
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