Children, swearing and a rite of passage

ONE thing I very rarely do is swear in front of my kids. Don’t get me wrong, I am an expert at cursing under my breath. I am a total master of blaspheming through gritted teeth.

I am extremely gifted at muttering utter profanities behind a locked bathroom door.

In fact, I actually quite like swearing, but my children’s behaviour is sometimes negative enough on its own that I don’t need them screaming an F-bomb at me as well.

When I was a kid, my dad was trying to get me home from the park and, because I didn’t want to go, I told him to “F-off”.

Well, he certainly dragged me home after that.


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But the funny thing is, I was six years old and I had no idea what it meant.

Yet I knew not to use it again because my dad threatened to wash my mouth out with soap.

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Recently I’ve had to deal with a bit of swearing from my nine year old which, of course, means his siblings have been getting in on the act too.

They are just starting to get their heads round it and have been testing the water with such gems as “Blooming bloody thing” and “For God’s Sake”.

I’ve not been too concerned but it’s started to snowball like this:

1. My son asks “Is the S word still stupid or does it now mean s**t?”

(Thus teaching his younger brother a new word.)

2. My daughter comes home after being in the car with my husband and says “mummy, what does ducking slow down mean?”

(I’m thankful to Beyonce at volume 34 for ruining her hearing.)

3. I’m doing rhyming homework with my daughter and she writes “s**t” for rhyming with “bit” and then sniggers.

(But blimey, the teacher was asking for it.)

It all climaxed last week when my son was refusing to clean his teeth and when I started shouting, he exclaimed “You’re just a f***ing mummy!”

I had to cover my mouth to stifle the guffaw.

His dad screamed “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” but I reminded him that making a fuss about it would only make him more inclined to say it again and perhaps by not making a deal we’re taking some of the mystique out of it.

Plus – it’s given me a great story to tell.

I’m starting to relax about it all.

You can’t wrap kids up in cotton wool.

As with so many other things – drinking, dressing like tramps, fireworks – they need to learn there’s a time and a place for everything.

Of course they will be told that some people don’t like swearing and that it could get them into trouble.

They need to weigh the joy of using curse words against the repercussions, but I’m not going to put a dampener on a rite of passage.

I love words and that’s what they are. Just words.

People don’t swear because they either can’t think of a better word or lack a proper vocabulary.

Sometimes curse words can communicate emotion better than other words – anger, frustration, surprise and happiness.

A profanity can be the most perfect adjective or verb in a given situation.

In fact swearing is like hitting the horn on your car.

I have to confess I’m a little proud of my kids verbal acumen.

After all, I’m quite certain that it’s not come from me and I’m a bit smug.

It means that my kids have taken a certain word that they’ve perhaps heard in the playground, correctly identified it as a verb or an adjective and then applied it accurately, if not appropriately, in the right situation.

Gifted and talented – am I right?

Ah, proud parenting moments.

I’m recording it in their red books. It’s an experience not to be forgotten.

It needs to marked down alongside ‘crawling’ and ‘MMR’.

In fact I’m adding a learning curve.

Of course the health visitor won’t like it, but you know what - %$*#% her.

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