Yes I Swear In Front Of My Kids

*Warning: Adult Language Alert (If you’re eff word adverse, stop reading here). 

As a writer, I love words. All kinds of words. Even the sweary kind. Especially the sweary kind.

I try not to curse too much in front of my children, but I’m only human—a very passionate and expressive human I might add. So sometimes an “Oh for fuck’s sake” might escape my lips. I don’t think that makes me a bad parent. Words are just words unless they’re used to inflict hurt or disrespect. That’s when they’re truly offensive. Don’t even get me started on the R-Word. That’s one loaded word I never use. There’s never a positive reason to use it. 

Coarse language isn’t necessarily rude or offensive. It’s about the way words are wielded. 

Until recently my daughter has been oblivious to my salty language. My husband and I could talk about any subject in front of her without her taking much notice. 

Now she inquires with great curiosity, “Who are you talking about? Who said that? Why did they DO that?” All the questions. I love that she’s noticing, but it does pose challenges.

For example, the other day my son and I were watching a movie and a character swore. From the next room my daughter shouted, “Hey, that guy said fuck!” She burst into the room wagging a finger at us. “Fuck isn’t a good word. You’re not supposed to say fuck. I heard him say it. Fuck, I mean.” She scolded us, hands on hips, while using every opportunity to repeatedly drop little innocent F-bombs. 

I was temporarily speechless. My son and I locked eyes and tried not to laugh. Because kids using obscenities isn’t funny. (Except when it is.) I needed to approach the situation delicately and calmly. A big reaction would turn fuck into a forbidden fruit. The last thing I need is my child stuck in a curse word loop at school. 

So I soberly agreed that the F word isn’t nice. I explained that it’s actually quite rude and using that word might hurt somebody’s feelings.

“But YOU use that word mum.”

F*ck. She got me there.

(Sometimes I use an asterisk in place of the u to tone that effing word down when I’m writing or I say FOCK when I’m speaking to prove that I can be classy.) 

Anyway, I’ll need to find a new favourite curse word for the time being so I don’t confuse the message. This message right here:

As long as what you say isn’t hurtful to anyone, then no word is really off-limits.

Even “swear” words in the right circumstances. But not the F word. It’s a very adult word and not a helpful or happy word…for kids. Perimenopausal moms can use it whenever they fucking want. Otherwise our heads might actually explode. 

Avery and I had the same conversation a few months ago about “stupid.” She was convinced stupid and dumb were highly offensive. I tried to explain that the words themselves aren’t offensive. It’s how they’re used. 

She wasn’t buying it, so I tried an example. 

If you said “Littering is stupid” it’s not hurting anyone. Stupid in that case means littering is an ignorant thing to do. But if you call a person stupid, that’s personal and hurtful and it’s not okay. 

Then she asked about fat. “Fat is a bad word, right?” 

Another example… 

Calling a “thing” fat isn’t bad. It’s a way to describe something. Saying, “I had a big fat slice of delicious pie,” doesn’t hurt anyone. But saying your mom looks fat while she’s bending over to tie her shoes, that stings! LOL! 

Of course I don’t want my daughter cursing like a sailor. But, I do want her to understand that there are much worse words in the world. Like hate speech. I’d rather hear a curse word than a spiteful slur or discriminatory jab any day. 

My daughter’s special needs make her very literal. She sees things as black or white. Something is either good or bad, right or wrong. Shades of grey are elusive. So explaining why it’s okay for me or that guy on TV to use a curse word, but it’s not okay for her, is one of those grey areas. 

Since the F-bomb incident, we’re having a lot of discussions around appropriate expressive language. This kind of thing takes time and patience and lots of repetition. I said “darn” yesterday and spent ten minutes explaining how it’s different from saying damn. And then another five discussing how dammit is the same as damn, but that beaver dams are a whole other thing. 

I think she’s starting to get it. However, my apologies in advance to her teachers if she takes some of this new language out for a test run. If you hear her at lunch muttering, “Oh for fuck’s sake I forgot my spoon,” well, my bad.

I don’t encourage swearing or find it (that) amusing but this happened (below) and to be honest, I did have to fight to suppress a big FAT laugh. 

So the other night as we were driving home from activity I took a call from a friend on speaker phone. We chatted as Avery read in the backseat. In conversation my girlfriend said something like, “Holy shit did you hear about the…” when she was interrupted by a gasp and a little voice from the backseat saying, “Um, excuse me mummy, Sharon said shit.”

When the call ended she said, “Hey mum. Remember when Sharon said shit?” (Uh, that was 30 seconds ago, so yes). 

Then after a long pause she said, “Oh well, shit isn’t good, but at least she didn’t say fuck.”

Oh damn, er darn… 

Side note… my friends know me well. Check out this saucy jewelry they gave me. 🤣

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