Bad Words Have No Shock Value Here
I have a mouth like a drunken sailor. I think I always have. But it wasn’t because my parents had potty mouths themselves. Actually that’s quite the opposite; it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I think first heard my dad drop the F bomb. He was a mechanic so I spent a lot of “under the hood” time with him helping and when he was knee deep in motor oil and car parts I would occasionally hear a choice curse word, but nothing that made me decide to repeat. Once I entered middle and high school though, it seemed like cursing and swearing was almost as much a part of a teenager’s daily life as was their wardrobe so I just followed suit.
I think my views and my husband’s views on swearing in front of our kids (who I really think has a cleaner mouth than I do oddly enough), has more to do not so much with filtering what our kids hear but more about reducing the shock value of the words. I don’t filter my mouth much at home and neither does my husband and I know a lot of people (including my channel partner Amy,) are just floored by that. In fact, I’m sure she’s dreaming of following my children with pillows and cotton to stuff in their ears but I’m fine with that.
See, in my opinion words only have shock value if you give them shock value. The husband and I have friends who not only don’t filter what their children hear but also allow them to say whatever they want so long as they used the word in the correct context. Now while I don’t go that far (and don’t necessarily agree with the way they do it), I don’t filter. But I can definitely understand why our friends felt okay with a language free for all.
If children grow up with these words as a part of their every day then by the time they are older, they aren’t shocked by them and in the case of our friends, if they are allowed to say them, then the novelty of the word wears off. Remember the first time one of your children said a word that you didn’t allow or want them to say? How did you react? Were you stunned? Did you jump into the air and proclaim, “You are not allowed to say that word!” to your child? The reaction from the child was to probably say the word even more (much to your dismay and irritation). But the moment you stopped paying attention, stopped making a big to do of it, the more likely your child was to stop.
In our case, we don’t allow our children to repeat the words that come out of our mouths. We told them when they were old enough to drink and smoke legally then they were old enough to use those words in front of us. I know my teenager is old enough to talk the way he wants in front of his friends and that’s fine with me because I did it too at his age, so long as the mouth that kisses me goodnight doesn’t curse in front of me. Maybe that sounds hypocritical but I think my children can still be exposed to language and be taught when it’s acceptable and when it isn’t and who it might be acceptable in front of; if ever my friends took issue with what I say, I would be fine with them asking me not to swear in front of them and I’m pretty good about cleaning up my language when I need to.
What about you? How do you feel about bad language and your children? Did how you grew up affect the words you use today?