A few days ago, my friend tagged me in a post on facebook. The gist of the article was about parents swearing in front of their kids. I know a few people in my life who are very anti-swearing. I, however, seem to come across as one of the parents who don’t watch what they say. How does that make me feel? I am not sure about that, but one thing I do know for sure, I don’t avoid certain words or phrases for fear that my kids will repeat them. (possibly because by now, they’ve repeated all of the bad ones, so why stop now?)
It started me thinking. Does this make me a bad mom? Should I be shielding my kids from the horrible words of the world? If I curse in front of my kids, does that set them up to be wretched little humans?
And you know what I deduced? F*CK NO! My kids are great and funny and smart little humanoids, and maybe even smarter than kids who’ve never heard “fuck” or “shit”, or ever heard their mother shout her famous coined-phrased “piss and shit-sticks” when she’s forgotten something important, or had their mother or father mumble “douchebag” to the rude-ass driver on the road.
Smarter how, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you! Cuz my kids have heard all of these (and possibly worse, don’t judge me!) and they know that they’re not supposed to repeat it, and for the most part, they don’t! I think that jacks their intelligence points up a few notches, because they are a few steps ahead of kids who’ve never heard them and then begin to shout them from the rooftop at the first chance they get when they’re older.
I’ll admit – I came from a very strict and religious house (I recall getting my ass GROUNDED when I dared bring a NKOTB cassette into my house.. “hangin’ tough” was the one and only song I have ever heard, because I got busted while listening to my “secular” contraband in my room one day) So when I got old enough to be in a group of kids who used this vernacular as their regular speak, I got butterflies! A few things went through my head at my first experience with a non-religious-schoolyard encounter…
1- oh my goodness, naughty words!
2- holy shit, these kids are badasses!
3- holy shit, I just said “holy shit!” I am such a badass!
It was my first week of grade 7 (my first year of junior high) and I was blown away! We were all standing in a group by the fence (like true bad-asses) and I heard some of my new-found friends using naughty words, and my religious upbringing recoiled, and then (what I believe to be) my true identity came surging forth, and my first (of many) curse words left my tongue with ferocity and force, and I felt a surge of empowerment and sophistication (shut up, I was a stupid kid) and I have been a profanity volcano ever since.
Well, that is not entirely true, I suppose. For the looongest time, I kept up the charade of being good little church girl, for the most part, while in the presence of my family. But you can only keep your true self bottled up for so long, until the carbonation build-up gets too strong and the “real” you comes bubbling forth. Well, I think my “true self” came surging out with the purchase of my very first (and still favorite) Blink 182 cd. I remember playing it in my car and my sister calling me a heathen (she was a church girl for a lot longer than her heathen big sister) I can still see the look of shock and disgust on her face, and it still makes me giggle. She soon crossed over to the dark-side with me, though, using her first naughty word while singing along with Kid Rock in her car (she was beside herself with shock, disgust and amusement when the F word came unknowingly flying out of her mouth while singing along to her cars cd player) I laughed, and it remains one of my favorite memories to this day.
The churchy charade soon ended at home, and now I am not ashamed to say that our family gatherings bring forth some of the most filth-ridden and hysterical spewings of profanity. So, if you shy away from that sort of talk, stay away from this particular group of yahoos.
But back to my children. I have decided that swearing around my kids isn’t taboo. Swearing AT my children, abso-bloody-lutely.. Don’t be disrespectful to them; they are still people.
1- I am the parent
2- I am grown up and know right from wrong.
3- We are not equals.
4- “Do as I say, not as I do” rules in this house. Not saying I am a bad example, but I had to learn the hard way, so they don’t have to.
5- They are my kids, and while I adore them, they still have a lot to learn.
6- You shouldn’t be on the same parallel as your kids. Same level of respect, yes. But at the end of the day, you will always be older than them, and THEIR PARENT!
7- We teach them not to slam their fingers in the car door, or to pick their noses in public, so, teaching them not to repeat the shit I say should be a piece of cake, and perfectly acceptable.
8- If you don’t agree with this, don’t swear in front of my kids, and politely ask me to watch my mouth in front of yours. Respect. Goes both ways, I am not an asshole.
9- Hearing my son honk the little horn in the car-cart at Safeway and mumble “douchebag” is a memory I will always laugh about, and wouldn’t have if he hadn’t heard me and my husband doing the same thing. He was told to not say that anymore (and he hasn’t) but it was still amusing.
So all in all, I don’t believe that swearing makes people “bad”. I don’t believe that kids will grow up to be horrible people if they hear naughty words, nor do I believe it sets them up for a putrid existence. They are just words. Yes, their meaning may be a bit less scrupulous than some, but does that really breed a bunch of assholes? No. My kids still have manners and morals, they are still sweet and caring and thoughtful, they still have respect, they still know right from wrong, and they still have huge and beautiful hearts. But just to even shit out, I put them in Catholic school, so they can learn stuff that I might not necessarily be able to teach them.
But let’s be honest, most kids I know from Catholic or religious schools/backgrounds end up being the foul-mouthed naughty kids anyway (case and point, MOI!), so maybe I just gave my kids a headstart to understand the logistics of this foul-mouth society that they are about to enter.