A short one today, about swearing and kids. The question being: should we swear in front of our kids or not?
This dilemma raises its head from time to time in our house, usually just after one of my offspring has told a sibling he or she is a bloody shitfuckbum. Once I’ve stopped laughing, I do the whole ‘sweetie, you must NOT say words like that to people’ routine, to which the reply is always ‘well you do!’
For the record, I’ve never called anyone a bloody shitfuckbum, but that’s just splitting hairs. I do swear, quite a lot actually, because a) I find a lot of things irritating b) there are some GREAT swearwords out there and c) sometimes there’s nothing quite like a good ‘f**k!’
But when kids are lurking around everywhere, I do try to mind my language. Because however amusing it might be for a moment, there’s something just cheap and nasty about hearing the F-word coming out of a child’s mouth, and if they learn that swearing at home is OK, they’ll find it very hard to turn it off when they get outside.
Which is why you hear so many kids calling their mum a bitch in your local supermarket. Or maybe that’s just my local supermarket…
The first time we became aware of ‘toning it down in front of the kids’ was when my 2-year-old took my father down the garden, and explained very sweetly that we have to ‘Shoo away the Fuckingcat, Grandad’.
It occurred to me in that moment that I’d only ever referred to the neighbour’s moggy as the ‘F**king Cat!’ (because it shits in my garden and I find this a little but unpleasant) and so that’s what my baby thought it was called. Oooops.
This kind of thing is funny, and we all had a good chortle. Oh, isn’t it sweet. She swore! Hahaha.
But then comes the moment where you think, this isn’t so good really, is it? And then you start muttering obscenities under your breath instead like a miserable old man, until your kids ask you to speak up.
My last jokey swear moment I add only because it’s a good one:
we were sitting beside the river with our toddler one fine Cambridge day many years ago, playing a game of rhymes. As you do when you have a toddler and seven hours to kill. The idea is to say a word and then work throught the alphabet finding all the words that rhyme with that one: bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, nat etc. You get the picture…
I started. I picked the first object I saw on the water: a duck.
2-year-old Emily starts: buck, cuck, duck, f –
OK! Great, well done. Actually, let’s try another word now. OK, what can I see?
Oh look, a punt.
aunt, bunt, c-….oh dear.
Almost every parent I know swears occasionally in front of their kids, and I tend to agree with the argument that says they’re going to hear them anyway, so they might as well learn when and how to use them from you.
The important part is teaching them when NOT to use them.
Have a goodun’.