I have a potty mouth. If you’ve spent more than 30 minutes in my company and you haven’t heard swear words escape from my lips, then there’s some reason I’m on my super-duper best behavior. Don’t get me wrong — my fondness for four-letter words isn’t something I’m particularly proud of, it’s just something that is.
I have a filter when I need to have a filter. I can usually keep it clean in church, at school events, and in professional situations. (Refer back to my above comment about “super-duper best behavior.”) I can reign it in when I have to … I just usually don’t tell myself I have to. I am who I am.
I’ve seen a lot of things written on the Internet lately about cussing, in particular, how cussing relates to motherhood:
- It’s okay to cuss in front of your kids.
- It’s not okay to cuss in front of your kids.
- How to react when your kids cuss, and let me tell you, if you have a potty mouth, so will your kids. What’s that they say about apples not falling far from the tree? Totally true.
I’m not making excuses for myself or defending myself, but there are worse things in life and parenting that the occasional swear word, people. Here are three things you can do in front of your children that will harm them more than hearing their parents use some foul language on occasion.
Do your kids overhear you speculating about whether or not your neighbor’s boobs are real and how much she might have paid for them? Do you stand at your window and cluck about whose car is occupying the driveway across the street on nights when you know the husband is out of town? Is part of your mom group time spent snickering over someone’s wardrobe choice or discussing how much she paid for that ostentatious new SUV in that godawful shade of burnt orange?
If other people’s business is frequently the topic of your conversation, what does that teach your children? Think about it.
2. Tearing down someone they love
Is it tempting to be snarky in front of your kids? Be honest. Do you want to throw some verbal darts at their beloved teacher for the crazy amount of elementary school homework assignments? Do you put down your spouse, your parents, or other family members with words and gestures? Do you sigh, roll your eyes, and act put upon every time your caller ID tells you your mom is on the phone? Do you give unfiltered opinions on in-laws and stepparents, no matter who is listening?
We’re all human, but just maybe we need to be more cognizant of what our children hear from us … and I’m not talking about a couple of f-bombs.
3. Putting ourselves down
I cringe when I think of how many times I’ve been unkind to myself within earshot of my children. They’ve seem me sigh as I step on the scale, frowning at the number I saw. My expression when I look in the mirror as I “pinch an inch” of the flesh around my doughy midsection makes it clear that I don’t like what I see. Do your kids hear you say stuff like “I really suck at this?” Do you express your “I’m not good enough” feelings out loud?
There’s a line between letting your kids know you’re a normal human with normal human insecurities and allowing them to have a front row seat to you bashing yourself. It’s hard to encourage our small humans to be fierce and confident when they constantly see us belittling ourselves.
Last week while waiting in line at Target, my 5-year-old announced that the game of Angry Birds he was playing on my phone was “really pissing him off.” Apparently, the people in line around us had never heard that word before … either that or they were totally horrified at my little boy’s rather colorful language. I shrugged it off because damn … some of those little piggies can be hard to kill, right? Was it one of my proudest moments in parenting? No. Did he learn his medium-bad language from me? No doubt.
I am far from being the perfect mom, far from being the perfect anything on my very best day. I try to be cognizant of the little eyes and ears taking in every move I make and modeling their behavior after me. If I can be a secure, kind human being most of the time, I’ll call that a win. And, a few little swear words never hurt anyone.More On