Words are the most powerful way we have to express emotions, ideas and thoughts and information about any given thing in life. Our choice of words can determine how a conversation will go, how others perceive us and at times, even how intelligent others may believe we are.
As a parent with tweens and teens in the house, a topic of conversation that arises occasionally is; cussing. I’m a grown woman who feels glued to her desk most of the week, deals with kids arguing daily and seldom gets my own way on anything and let’s face it, I cuss. Frequently.
Most parents that I know tend to believe that children should never use swear words, and most adults (Including myself) try to refrain from using them in front of children. Albeit, I fail horribly no matter how hard I may try.
Cussing on Television
(Note: This applies to broadcast television and not cable television)
The FCC states that “Federal law prohibits obscene, indecent and profane content from being broadcast on the radio or tv between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when children are generally awake to watch television.” There is a big problem with that statement however and that is, who determines what a person considered obscene, indecent and profane?
In 1972, comedian George Carlin did a routine called “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” and while his skit was hilarious (and true) it got him arrested and even led to a 1978 Supreme Court case when a New York radio station played the segment uncensored!
GeorgeCarlin – 7 Words You Can’t Say On TV
Research on Cussing and Children
As much as many parents would love to believe, there is absolutely zero research that states cussing in front of, or even allowing a child to cuss will have a negative impact on their overall develop or on their brain.
This is of course not at all including swearing at children in an abusive or demeaning way, because used in that context, then yes cussing can(and should be) considered wrong. Cussing at a child because the adult is angry or frustrated is just a form of lashing out and those situations can be detrimental to a child.
According to RonRiggio of Psychology Today, by the time a child starts school, they already have a vocabulary that includes up to 40 swear words.
This of course can depend on the social circles the child is part of,whether the parent uses swear words at home and how many children the child may have heard swear words from at school, on the playground or even in a playgroup.
Dropping the F Bomb
When my kids were little, I never said a bad word in front of them. I worked very hard to make sure they never had to hear even a slightly bad word,much less the mother of all swear words. You know, the “F” word that even the roughest and toughest try not to say in front of their moms!
Today, I say what I want, when I want and while most of the time my words won’t necessarily include swear words…
Okay, let me be honest here. I watch how I speak depending on who I’m talking to. At my children’s school for instance, I don’t plan to throw around the F bomb when I meet with a teacher. When I’m in a discussion with a business associate, I may tend to say a cuss word here and there, but I do try to refrain on the F bombs as much as possible. Instead, I use phrases that include, “Mother truckers!” or “Fudge a Duck.” I have no idea where the fudge or the duck came into play, but they replaced the F Bomb in my house and now If ind that I’m trying to cut down on how often I blurt those phrases out.
Although I use replacement phrases now, I’ve blurted out a true F Bomb quite a few times and guess what? Not once have either of my children even uttered the F word when speaking in this home.
Allowing Kids to Cuss
Last month, my tween daughter asked me if she was allowed cuss at home.After considering her question for all of 5 seconds, I told her of course she can cuss at home.
First, let me explain something about my daughter and cussing. A few months ago, I found a pair of her ballet shoes laying in the playroom and they were covered in mud. I thought she walked outside in them and stepped in something nasty, so I blurted out, “You stepped in dog sh*t and now your ballet slippers are ruined!” She instantly replied to me, “That’s not sh*t.”Immediately, she started crying and told me repeatedly that she didn’t mean to say that word. I on the other hand, sat on the playroom floor and laughed.
For this reason alone, I told her she could say cuss words. I have no reason to think she is going to just suddenly start popping out swear words like she’s lived in a third world prison her whole life and doesn’t know how to speak any other way. It just isn’t going to happen.
Now, do I think she might one day bust out with a word that maybe one of her friends isn’t allowed to say? Sure, I expect to hear a cuss word at some point in her adolescent life. Will I punish her for saying it? Not at all.
Yes, Your Perfect Child Cusses
Once kids hit middle school, cussing may be new, unchartered territory for many of them and when they are suddenly thrust into class with older tweens and teens, peer pressure often takes over and cuss words take on a life of their own. Keep in mind that quite a few kids started cussing in elementary school, and they have now advanced to middle school where cussing is the new norm.
Naïve parents should wake up now and realize that their saintly little boy and their sweet little girl are some of the biggest users of cuss words that I have ever heard! Honestly, it’s almost shocking when you overhear a sweet little girl who stands no taller than 4’8” belt out a stream of cuss words that even I myself wouldn’t say to someone or when the cute little kid who’s mom brags about how well he sings at church tells a joke riddled with cuss words, well, I dare say she would stop bragging!
I’ve overheard my children’s friends cussing when they’ve spent the night at my house and they think I’m so far upstairs that I can’t hear them in the playroom and I hear them when they’re chatting with them via video chat, and while their parents are most likely unaware of how their little sailor girls and boys talk,I’m actually glad to hear them say a simple cuss word instead of some of the terrible things they could be saying at this age.
Using slur words is something that as a parent I won’t tolerate. To slur someone because of their race or sexual orientation is wrong on all levels. Studies have shown that children exposed to homophobic and racial slurs exhibit higher levels of anxiety and depression than children who are not exposed to slurs.
Equality and love for all is key in my home and is something that I have always taught my children.
In the End
So, while I may say that I technically “allow” my children to cuss, I prefer that they don’t bust through the classroom door at school and greet their teachers with an obligatory, “How was your d*mn weekend?” Nor do I want them to garner a reputation as a semi-feral child who has zero manners and talks like a sailor.
I’ve held discussions with my children on the topic of cussing, and they both agree that they honestly have no desire to rush out and start using every swear word known to man. When all is said and done, they prefer not to cuss,and that’s a good thing. Kids are often smarter than adults give them credit.
Now, if one of them happens to have their tiny little toe find the huge steel leg of the coffee table in the middle of the night, I’m just going to lay in bed and giggle (to myself of course) when a stream of swear words finally makes their way into the world from one of their mouths.