I have a comondrum (that’s obviously what a conundrum on Monday is called). Is it wrong to swear around your kids?
For as much as I worry about how every single thing I do may or may not be affecting my kids, there’s one thing that I’ve never been very worried about: Swearing.
If you asked my dad, he’d tell you I talk like a sailor with a tone of disgust. If you asked anyone who really knew me, they’d probably agree. I don’t see anything wrong with swearing. I wasn’t raised to swear but over time I’ve grown a fondness for authenticity and for me, that includes a lot of colorful words. Seth and I both swear openly around the kids and I don’t see anything wrong with it.
When we were in Chicago last weekend, Seth and I got a text from my parents who were watching the boys. In the text my Dad asked who had been saying “God dammit” around Matty:
At the time, we were in a Lyft on the way to a wedding with one of my best friends and her boyfriend; Seth and I laughed while we shared the exchange with them. All four us got into a conversation about kids swearing. I took the stance that, in my personal opinion, telling someone to “shut up” was way worse than saying “God dammit”. To me, “shut up” is one of the rudest and most inconsiderate things a person could say to another. It is one of my biggest pet peeves – there are so many nicer ways to ask someone to be quiet. I would much rather my kid say “God dammit” or “shit” of “fuck” when he falls down or bounces out of an air mattress than be the kid who is telling other kids to shut up. It’s the difference between being a kid with a parent who has liberal views on swearing and a kid with mean parents. Not everyone agreed with me – but when it comes to parenting, what does anyone agree on?
To be honest, for all of the colorful language my kids have been privy to they’ve hardly ever used the words themselves. The “god dammit” text was actually the first time I’d ever known of Matty swearing on his own accord and not simply repeating something he’d just heard. The topic came up again over the weekend when Matty was overheard in the car freely (and hilariously) using the F word.
“Are you fucking kidding me? … I’m fucking kidding you.”
I could not stop laughing but Seth was disappointed. He was worried it made him (or maybe us?) seem trashy. I laughed it off but corrected Matty nonetheless.
“Matty, only adults can say things like that.”
“NO. I WILL say it.”
Seth and I discussed it briefly again as we drove out of town. I held my stance that as long as it’s not mean spirited, I don’t really care. I’d rather have a foul-mouthed, sweet-hearted, kind child than a little asshole who treats other people like shit but draws the line at “god dammit”. And obviously it’s possible to have both a proper and kind child but I’m just not super invested in “proper” right now. I want my kids to know the difference between right and wrong, yes – but I guess I’m just not sold that swearing is technically wrong. I mean, I swear often and I read this year that the more you swear the more honest you are, so it can’t be that bad — right?