I heard quite a few swear words growing up, in particular the f-word as it happens to be my father’s favorite. (Hi dad! How the eff are you?) I didn’t think anything of it, because that was the environment to which I was accustomed. I thought cursing was normal.
@&$$!!! Where are my @&$#@*! keys?
I must admit that the f-word has grown to become a personal favorite of mine as well. I use it for emphasis, to put a finer point on things. To let off steam. To cope. Should I be ashamed of this, as the granddaughter of a genteel Southern belle who wouldn’t be caught dead without full makeup and a proper pedicure at the grocery store? Probably, but I’m not.
The first curse word I was allowed to say was crap. I think I was about ten or eleven years old. I was actually very excited about being able to say crap. I felt like my parents thought I was mature enough to handle it. It was like they had given me a new car or something; I had this tiny bit of freedom that I was able to manage as I saw fit. I loved it, and for the most part I used it well. It didn’t kill me, or encourage me to adopt a life of crime. It wasn’t a gateway drug to grand theft auto. So when I saw news reports last week on newly published research finding that teens who swear are more likely to engage in physical aggression, I was a bit skeptical. I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time seeing a direct link between letting loose a profanity-laced phrase or two and being violent. If that was true, pretty much everyone I know would be dangerous. I think there’s probably a big difference between kids who live in a safe, loving, well-managed home who swear, and kids who are left to their own, unsupervised devices who swear. I’m guessing the environment is the problem, not the swearing.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t swear in front of my kids now that I’m a parent. Never at them, mind you. I would never use a swear word in relation to my children. I might use it in relation to their continually missing @!$!!#@ shoes, but not at them or about them. I’m pretty sure when they grow up they’ll be as foul-mouthed as I am, though I’d like to think they’ll understand (as I believe I do) when it’s okay to use such language and when it isn’t.
I know this is a touchy subject. It’s not particularly polite to swear. It’s just that there are so many things in this world to be concerned about. I don’t want them to bully. I don’t want them to drink or use drugs or smoke. I don’t want them to lie and keep secrets from me. I want them to know how important every year of school is and that they must take it seriously and study and work hard so that they will have more opportunities in the future. I want them to know how to love and how to be kind and generous. When it comes to all the things that could go staggeringly wrong in their lives, being foul-mouthed when they are adults falls to the very bottom of my list of worries.
My stance on swearing is that there are much bigger fish to fry. I do it in front of them, and I imagine when they grow up they’ll do it as well. There are a lot of serious issues to be concerned about as a parent, and for me, this is not one of them.
Photo credit: MorgueFile/xenia
More on cursing: I Let My 4-Year-Old Swear — Why It’s Not a Bad Thing